Show me the money

It’s very easy to get carried away by lots of pleasing looking website development plans, full of lovely new bells and whistles, but are they worth it? Successful publishing is all about asking the right questions.

By James Evelegh

Show me the money
Markus Karlsson (on the left) and Jonathan Collins of Affino.

Fancy web development plans are all well and good, but unless proper cost-benefit analysis has been done, they are worthless. Start with the KPIs, everything else is just cost.

This is one of the many takeaways I came away with from a fascinating and wide-ranging three-hour discussion in London with Affino’s Markus Karlsson and Jonathan Collins. Martin Maynard and I were interviewing them at their Fitzrovia office for a forthcoming sponsored article in InPublishing magazine.

Listening to them, I thought I would distil some of their thoughts into five tips for publishing success:

  1. Use real numbers: too many publishers rely on fantasy figures, trading on ‘pageviews’ and ‘ads served’. Bots and ad-blockers are rendering these figures meaningless. Focus instead on ‘human page views’ and ‘ads viewed’, based on first-party data and local ad-serving.
  2. Put tech at the heart of your business: without real tech expertise, it’s too easy to delude yourselves that you are further down the digital road than you really are. Employ good tech staff, pay them well and put them on six-month termination clauses. Put one of them on the board too. This might require a cultural shift in your organisation, but it’s a potential game-changer.
  3. If in doubt, automate: publishers can be a bit squeamish about automation. Google and Facebook, our biggest competitors, are not! Automation doesn’t suppress creativity; it frees up more time for it.
  4. Become audience-centric and adopt a topic mindset: traditionally, publishers are brand-centric, an understandable point of view, but this is the single biggest cause of silo-think.
  5. Check out the ‘least read’ report: we’re all keen on our most read lists, but perhaps unwilling to confront the uncomfortable truth about what is not being read. If it’s not being read, is it worth being written?