“It’s the Engagement Time, Stupid!” – Is Personalisation of Content the New Black?
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September 3, 2015

“It’s the economy, stupid!” is a phrase associated with Bill Clinton‘s successful 1992 presidential campaign against sitting president George Bush. And 4 years before G.W. Bush used the phrase “Read my lips: no new taxes”. As you notice, I am a big fan of American sound bites.

So, when having a conversation with the Chief Digital Officer of one of the biggest publishing groups in Europe we came to the following conclusion:

  “Read my lips: It’s the Engagement Time, Stupid!”

“The more pageviews my site gets, the bigger my audience, the more successful my site”. Really? Everybody agreeing with the above statement should remember that Goldfish have a better attention span than you, smartphone user. This is one of the reasons more and more publishers focus on Engagement Times. To be more precise, the time returning visitors are reading on your site. News Industry is after all not that much different from any commercial company: a once-off-buyer does not bring you profit, it’s the returning customer that buys more of your products.

Sadly, nobody has the silver bullet to increase reader’s loyalty. But it is interesting to see “old” ideas and techniques are being used. Obviously, better versions of these techniques in the form of SaaS technology are offered by innovative companies. These technologies, like Natural Language Processing and Semantics, that deeply understand and categorise content are delivering amazing results.  Users want more of what they care about.

The NY Times gets an open rate of 70% on newsletters that take in account what readers are actually interested in. And the publisher is working on the next level of content recommendation, Recommend for You. A combination of deep knowledge of their valuable content and reader’s preferences.

So the above mentioned CDO and undersigned came to the following conclusions:

  1. Personalisation of news is the new black.
  2. Deep understanding of the “aboutness” of content is key.
  3. You need smart algorithms that predict your (individual) readers “next step”
  4. The editorial team needs to understand what content is relevant to your loyal reader (and not to everybody on the www).

In my next blog post I will cover #2, the “aboutness” of content. If you can not wait, just reach out to me on Linkedin.