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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Publishers’ quick guide to serving up relevant—and engaging—content

April 23, 2018 | By Michel Benjamin, Director of Marketing—Lotame @micheltben

Let’s face it. A publisher’s job is never done – and it’s never easy. Regardless of the ever-evolving relationship publishers have with Facebook and other social media platforms for sharing content with the world, one thing remains clear: You either need to give readers the content they want, or they aren’t going to engage with what you’re offering.

Personalizing the content that you send to your audience can have a dramatic effect on engagement and time on site. Let’s look at three ways publishers can improve editorial strategy, increase consumer engagement and build brand loyalty by customizing the content that readers see.

Content Customization

As a publisher, your content development and editorial teams already have a pretty good sense of whether a story is best served by an article, video, audio, interactive experience or some combination of the above. They know the story and they have a good sense of the medium best suited to convey that story, but do they know the audience most likely to read – or watch or listen or explore – that story? And if they do, or they think they do, does your content dev team understand how that audience prefers to receive content? Now we’re getting into a murkier area.

Using audience data gathered from a DMP or other audience platform, you may learn that 70% of people watching videos at least three times in the last five days are men, 40% are age 25-34, and 35% are interested in sports. Armed with this knowledge, you can direct your video production team to create videos about football – or soccer, if you live in a country that’s not America. Knowing the composition of your content consumers allows you to publish (or republish) content specifically tailored to their content consumption preferences. When content is relevant, consumers will be engaged for longer and they will be more likely to return for more.

Content Personalization

While content customization helps to modify the types of content your editorial team produces, how can we ensure that the user is getting the most relevant content, in any medium, as they navigate around your digital properties? You may be able to tee up relevant content based on the current article (or video, etc) a user is reading or watching, but what percentage of your site traffic have you seen before? 25%? 50%? For the remaining users who you have no previous data on, how do you ensure the first pieces of content is something that user is likely to engage with?

In addition to making more relevant content by medium, why don’t we reduce the irrelevant content pieces? Content wouldn’t be displayed to users who are not interested, and instead would only be shown to consumer who are interested. This is where Content Personalization comes into play. By linking your digital audience data to your Content Management System’s (CMS) engine, a profile’s rich behavioral attributes can be reviewed and analyzed to ensure each piece of content is served up to each user on an individual basis. This maximizes the chances the user will click or engage – and remain on your site longer.

Now, instead of four out of 10 articles being relevant you can become even more relevant by decreasing the total number served up – it’s now four out of eight articles! It’s not perfect, but we’ve already increased from 10% relevancy to 50%. That an increase of 500%!

Content Recommendation

So now we can ensure the right content is served despite the users’ interest or demographics, but we can’t just keep showing the same article or type of article to the same user.

Content Recommendation can help solve for that. As a user browses the page, to one side or at the bottom of the article a selection of relevant articles should be offered to the reader as additional content to consume. If the user is reading an article about sports, but also have interests in finance and politics, perhaps the list of articles being recommended is one article each of sports, finance, and politics. Integrating your audience data with a content recommendation engine (either proprietary or third-party like Outbrain) will allow these relevant articles to show based on behavioral affinities.

Whichever direction you choose, one thing remains true: When content is relevant, consumers will be engaged for longer and they will be more likely to return for more. And in today’s very competitive world, saturated with blogs, articles and videos, using the insights you have on your audience to show them what they want will make them more loyal and give you a leg up on the competition. Are you ready to get started?

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