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5 top tips - How personalisation can increase your digital revenues in 2017 - Q&A

On 20 October, Cxense chief product officer Tom Wilde delivered one of our ‘Top Tips Webinars’ where he discussed how personalisation can drive digital revenue. In this article, Tom takes you through the questions put to him during the webinar.

By Tom Wilde

Q: How do you overcome the consumer’s fear of sharing too much information about themselves?

A: It’s important to establish trust. Transparency and full disclosure on the enhancements you’ve made to your site in addition to proper labelling can make a huge difference.

Great personalisation should be seamless. It’s about actioning the data that you already have so you don’t have to ask for too many details. A negative personalisation experience can expose something about the user’s profile that they would prefer not to use – or asking for information they have already shared.

Q: How has social media changed the need for personalisation and what are the best practices for converting social visitors?

A: Social has dramatically impacted the “brand loyalty” that users have with their content sources. We’ve gone from searching the web to relevant content finding us via a number of social channels.

Clicking on an ad in one of these channels doesn’t make the user loyal to you, but it does give a solid “audience signal” that provides an opportunity to serve up relevant content that can engage and eventually turn them into a known user and a loyal subscriber.

Q: What is your position on Facebook Instant Articles and how this impacts publishers?

A: I think it’s exciting – off-site publishing models highlight the importance of actionable data. Facebook competes in the arena of data and is in the business of creating detailed audience profiles.

It’s so important for a publisher to stay competitive and develop a strategy that invests in – and manages – their data assets as aggressively as Facebook and Google.

Publishers should take advantage of that data to build a sustainable digital business model. Instant Articles are a great way to get extended audience reach and earn additional revenue. However, publishers need to be careful that they don’t do it at the expense of building audience profiles and audience data assets.

Q: How important is video in increasing user engagement?

A: We know video is the fastest growing digital content format. Millennials consume tremendous amounts of video across social sites so videos will continue to be one of the best strategies for driving engagement.

Video also monetises better than text article content does. However, producing quality video content is an investment and is an important thing for publishers to focus on.

Adding captioning is also critical to the success of driving revenue as many users watch video with the audio turned off. A good meta data and transcription strategy is vital to driving the most engagement out of video content.

Q: It’s been reported that many consumers (especially millennials) switch devices during an activity. What’s your advice on synchronizing content across multiple devices?

A: There are two strategies that address this. Firstly, let’s talk about ‘probabilistic’. This strategy determines that it is the same user across devices based on several personal signals that you can apply to that user’s profile to help prevent sending them duplicated content.

Then there’s ‘deterministic’. This is ideal because you have the user in a login state and can explicitly determine the device that they are on and add their device ID to their profile so you understand what content they like to view on which device.

This is why it’s so important to drive users to some sort of registration, even if it’s not a paid subscription, so you can deterministically map their behaviour between devices.

Q: Adblockers are becoming a huge issue in the value of the content / user relationship. Through personalisation, how can publishers address these issues?

A: Adblocking is a clear signal to publishers or marketers that the end user wants a different relationship with them. A relationship that has fewer or no ads can signal the perfect opportunity to start a dialogue on subscription services and reduce the number of ads.

Really, it’s an opportunity to share other options to the user that can help improve their experience.

Q: What do you think will be the impact of ad blocking on getting great results from onsite advertising and personalised ads?

A: The reality is that all publishers need to embrace the fact that they’re going to need to rely on more than one revenue stream from their site. It can’t just be advertising. Having a multi-faceted business model with a variety of channels / offerings is an important element of any publisher’s life today.

Q: How long would you give a specific personalisation configuration before you could trust the data?

A: I recommend assembling your content, building your data collection and audience profiles for a few weeks. Then dive into the data and see what insights you can gain. From there, assemble audience segments and a hypothesis around the marketing signals and “recipes” as part of your campaign and design some initial user experiences.

Run it again for another few weeks and get your first batch of data to see how it maps to your business goals. In about 30 days, you can optimise the campaign and see how it is working against your ROI targets.

Q: Is the homepage dead? If not, what is its role in the current digital environment and should publishers invest less in its ongoing development?

A: There is no question that the amount of traffic has fallen because of search and social. However, the homepage is where you will find your most loyal visitors.

It’s been noted that about 5% of your audience visits or bookmarks your homepage. Those users may generate up to 50% of the page views on your site. So by ignoring the homepage, you may risk mistreating some of your most valuable users.

Investing in a personalised and robust experience on the homepage is a vital piece of the loyalty equation. A loyal user will come back, but if the experience is disappointing, you may lose them forever and this could be a large percentage of your overall engagement.

Q: We see consumer anxiety and media consumption habits as barriers to personalised marketing. How can we overcome those obstacles?

A: The key to unlocking successful personalisation is to treat your digital data as one of the assets of your organisation.

It’s not just about analytics. It is actually a tangible asset that needs care, curation and investment so you can apply it across your publishing, marketing and advertising use cases. An investment in quality data and the continued augmentation and curation of that data should be a vital part of an overall digital strategy.

Cxense are world leaders in Online Personalisation for the publishing industry, founded 8 years ago by the ex-management team from FAST bought by Microsoft for 1.3 billion. Cxense work with companies such as Wall Street Journal and NBC Universal. Their vision is simple: to create the ultimate tool for website owners to know what their audience wants, and deliver on that promise.

The company grew rapidly and now tracks more than one billion user profiles on behalf of more than 350 customers globally, on more than 6000 sites, all in real-time.

“Today, we help publishers succeed in a digital world. Using audience data and advanced real-time analytics, we create hyper-relevant content recommendations (including video) and a personalized user experience that helps you increase your digital revenue and build a sustainable digital business model.”

A recording of the webinar can be viewed here.