Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Disruption, development and divestment: lessons to learn from the B2C market

Richard Padley, CEO, Semantico
Richard Padley, Chairman and CEO of Semantico kicked off the Disruption, Development and Divestment seminar with a session reflecting on what publishers can learn about providing services to the end-user. How are the 'new' users actually buying and consuming content and services?

There has been a shift for publishers from Intellectual Property landlord to IP traders. (This model is drawn from an MIT study on business models).

Search exerts incredibly powerful forces on all our business. There is a whole industry of search engine optimisation. But we don't seem to spend a lot of time thinking of that. Some businesses have a focus on it, some don't. We don't have nearly enough emphasis or ownership on SEO in the industry.

When Semantico implemented SEO strategy on one product they saw 3000% increase in unique users - new and repeat. But then it flatlined - clearly Google changed the rules. What they essentially had was a freemium model, but Google decided that this could only apply to newspapers. In the end they had to change the strategy for that product to respond. Google have a thing for free content - politically as well as from search point of view.  A couple of years ago they stopped indexing content behind paywalls, except for journal articles. There is a whole range of virtuous properties of doing search right. Search is incredibly powerful and incredibly important because of that.

User experience is the manifestation through products and services of business needs and the expression of customers needs. UX runs entirely through a business. You can liken it to an iceberg: there are the elements above the water you can see (MS submission, etc). But what about those underneath? In some cases, we have incredibly byzantine routes to content (number of clicks for a Shibboleth login). We still force our users to use logins, passwords and other protocols in a way that would never happen in the B2C world.

With mobile there's a bit of 'build it and they will come' mentality. But if you are seeing low levels of usage, that will probably be because your site is not responsive and users can't use it effectively. Responsive design makes your site fluid and flexible so you can retain, branding, user experience and flow of site. Think about the proportion of users that will instantly benefit. On PDFs: are we going to build faster horses? PDFs are incredibly difficult to read on mobile. ePub3 is far superior. Again, build it and they will come.

Richard finished by considering big data asking: how scientific are we being in deterring growth areas for programme development? Exactly who are we turning away? Are we looking at analytics in a way B2C businesses do? Are we considering conversions? It's not just about sales, but also downloads - how well are you converting user journeys from Google through into actual downloads? Some of this is about being proactive rather than reactive. Also about looking at the net effect on consumers.

Richard Padley spoke at the ALPSP seminar Disruption, development and divestment held in London on Tuesday 17 March 2015.

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