Why Publishers Are About To Go Data Crazy

This post, by Sachin Kamdar, originally appeared on the PBS Mediashift site on 1/17/12.

The following is a guest post from Sachin Kamdar, the CEO and co-founder of Parse.ly. Currently in stealth, Parse.ly provides a new set of performance metrics, specifically tailored to publishers’ needs. Here, Kamdar explores the new age of data and how publishers will be a part of it.

We spend too much time talking about how publishers are adapting to the rise of the web, and very few moments trying to understand the unique challenges their businesses face.

Many pundits have criticized the industry’s inability to adapt their business models to a new web-first world. But it’s not the publishers that aren’t adapting — it’s their toolbelts that haven’t evolved to meet most acute needs.

The printing press is a great example of a technology that was quickly and widely adopted, and believe it or not, evolved rather quickly over the course of the last century. I’d argue that publishers are better at adapting to change than we give them credit for.

For example, we rarely ever acknowledge that Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters were into "big data" long before it became a buzzword.

And while the advances in media consumption technology for readers have been rapid, the publisher side of web technology hasn’t kept up with the pace. Publishers have been running a marathon in a pair of shoes that are four sizes too small.  

2012 will be the year that publishers get access to sophisticated, innovative technologies that are purpose-built for their needs, and this is precisely what’s going to change in the next year. Rather than publishers having to make due with the innovations in consumer technology, the ecosystem of technology vendors will realize the huge opportunity to address publishers’ needs. The result will be great news for a publishing industry that has been stunted by poor tools for too long.  

Here’s what it’s going to look like.

Social Isn’t Just For Distribution

For as long as most of us can remember, publishers have been using the likes of Twitter and Facebook to grow readership, improve content reach, and build community. As they’ve gotten more sophisticated, it has also become apparent that they need more insight into the cause and effect of social sharing. They need to move beyond just looking the part and making nice conversation.

The social web is great for distribution, but it’s also good for measuring the performance of content. 

Unfortunately, traditional measurement and analytics tools are designed for radically different business models — typically B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) companies that sell physical goods or services. The resulting metrics are tracking for leads, or sheer volume, or purchase cause and effect. But content is an entirely different game.

After years of "one size fits all" social media measurement platforms, 2012 will be the year that publishers are going to be served with a variety of completely new offerings that are purpose-built for content-centric businesses (instead of bending an all-purpose tool to their will).

Publishers need to know what exactly caused an article to go viral — was it timely content that created a new trend? The guest author and her accompanying network? A particularly influential commenter? A confluence of factors?

Publishers generally already know what happened in the past. But what about the future?



Read the rest of the post on Mediashift.