Data. Increasingly, it’s what makes the world go round. From wearable tech devices like Fitbit to the world of fashion, it seems like every industry out there is figuring out ways to make products that collect all sorts of data about their users.
One of my favorite examples of this in the world of media is Spotify’s Discover Weekly function. It takes data about what I’ve been listening to, as well as what other users on the platform are listening to that’s similar, and aggregates it all to create a playlist for me each Monday. In other words, Spotify is taking data that indicates my tastes in music, merging it with data from other people with similar tastes, then coming up with customized playlists for me.
To be sure, I don’t like every song on my playlist, but that doesn’t matter. What matters (from Spotify’s point of view) is that I open it, check out a couple songs, and give them more data. What matters to me is that every Monday I have a convenient list of new music to check out, and 9 times out of 10 there’s at least one or two songs I wind up liking that are new to me, or I rediscover old songs I love that I’d simply forgotten about (like the Humpty Dance, remember that?).
So, what does this have to do with publishing? Glad you asked. Like every other business, the more publishers know about their customers, the better. And by that I don’t just mean the books customers buy. Books sold really only tells you one thing: how many books you sold and from which retailers (and even that isn’t always so straightforward).
But when you apply the capabilities of big data from companies like Spotify to the publishing industry, you get the kinds of insights about customer behavior that have profound implications for the future of the digital publishing. Everything from the way publisher do sales tracking and aggregation, to marketing and financial reporting, would improve.
One of the main frustrations we hear from publishers is about sales tracking and aggregation. It’s so complex. So many sales reports from different retailers. So many hours spent trying to reconcile all those reports. It would be one thing if all that work led to a clear picture of how your books were doing, but it doesn’t. The picture most publishers wind up with is blurry and not as useful as it could be.
Big data could make everything much less complex. Imagine having all those different sales reports aggregated into one report. Better yet, imagine being able to refresh that report on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Sounds pretty cool, right?
Now imagine having that daily report and being able to drill down into the details for a clear picture not only of how well your titles are selling, but in which territories, currencies and more. What was once a complex, time consuming hunt for clear data becomes as simple as clicking a button in a sales report dashboard.
Similar to sales reporting and aggregation, big data has the potential to take the complexity out of understanding your marketing ROI. Say you have a new title that you think will do well internationally. You’ve done some market research and have decided which countries to target. Great. But once the book is out, take things a step further.
How? With something like that sales reporting dashboard I mentioned before. It can show you if your marketing efforts in a given territory (or in general) are working or not. And if not, you’ll see where the book is selling and know to redirect your marketing efforts there. At the end of the day, you’ll be able to draw a direct line from marketing and promotions to book sales.
If you think I’m going to talk about how big data can do the same things for financial reporting that it can for sales reporting and marketing ROI--you’re right! Having all your financial data consolidated into one report gives you a clear picture of how your publishing business is doing financially without spending tons of time chasing down and consolidating all the different those data sources.
Want to learn more about the future of digital publishing solutions? We'd love to hear from you.
Justin Marks is a Content Marketing Manager at Vearsa. When he’s not helping publishers run and grow their eBooks business, he’s running his own small publishing company. Oh, and he loves cookies.
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