In 2018, the proliferation of free content online has increased the pressure on B2B publishers to produce high-value content not available elsewhere. B2B publishers have had to move on from simply being an aggregator of business-specific news to taking advantage of all channels to become established as a trusted source of informed content.
Central to becoming a trusted source is understanding the needs of your audience. Better understanding of readership significantly impact a publisher’s editorial calendar, sponsorship strategy, sales & product development and operational efficiencies. Not to mention the whole host of advantages this gives when engaging with advertisers.
The maturity of content analytics in digital publishing has narrowed the gap between editorial assumption and reader reality.
Whilst B2B print publications have had to rely primarily on periodic ABC and AAM reports, reader surveys and drawing inferences from sales performance to work out whether they are on the right path, the maturity of content analytics in digital publishing is beginning to narrow the gap between editorial assumption and reader reality.
Conventional web analytics is failing B2B publishers
Our interviews with B2B journalists and members of the Information Industry Network show an industry in flux when it comes to understanding its audience’s interests and needs digitally.
Currently, reader insight is primarily done through the proxy of content ‘engagement’. Content engagement metrics are varied and include pageview counts, unique visitor counts, followers, shares, comments counts, time spent on page, linkbacks and so forth. Each of these provide undoubtedly useful intelligence about how popular your content is but tell you little about why it is popular amongst your readership.
As a crude example, if you are a financial services news site and the article “Obama visits Europe to discuss government bond reform” experienced the highest volume of traffic, a broad-brush approach to reader insight might lead you to say, “Our readers are clearly interested in ‘Obama’ – let’s cover more news related to the US Presidency”.
In the title alone, however, there are several topics which have might have piqued your audience’s interest. Was it “Obama”, “Europe”, “government bonds”, “economic reform”, or a particular combination of some of those topics?!
The answers to this cannot be gleaned from a typical web analytics dashboard (think Google Analytics or Chartbeat, for example). Furthermore, trying to get a grasp on the content that resonates with your readership is made all the more difficult when you realise that not only is your readership fundamentally made of complex individuals with unique tastes and interests, but also that these tastes and interests are always changing. This is where Content Intelligence comes in.
What can Content Intelligence do for B2B publishers?
Content Intelligence analyzes text and automatically understands and extracts the topics – people, places, companies and concepts – contained within a piece of content. Content Intelligence then track an individual’s interaction with a piece of content and collect and draw trends about that individual’s tastes and interests.
Thus, if you were to read a series of PDF reports on Econsultancy, Content Intelligence would reveal if you were more interested in content which mentioned “marketing mix”, “Adobe” and “native advertising”, rather than articles which mention “content strategy”, “paid advertising” and “Rupert Murdoch”.
Without becoming too preoccupied with the technological aspect, the important shift for publishers to appreciate it that they can now move from broad-brush insight around readership (“This article is getting really good engagement”) to topic-level understanding of what is resonating (“This topic is really popular”).
For any B2B publisher, applying this level of intelligence to their editorial strategy would enable them to:
- Automatically tag content with topics, themes, products and people for search and categorization
- Understand the topics of interest that are most popular amongst their audience and identify the content topics that are underperforming
- Discover which content topics are over/under indexed on their site and have a real-time audit of their content archives
Despite myriad competing pressures on B2B publishers, they retain one enormously strong asset – the depth and quality of the content they already own. Much of this is impossible to source elsewhere, as well as being extremely labour-intensive to collect and process. Content Intelligence presents an opportunity for B2B publishers to take the guesswork out of their editorial strategy and gain more valuable audience insight than ever before.