May 26, 2017
How can you build a better profile of your audience? This has pretty much been the publishing Holy Grail since editors first put ink to paper and tried to sell it. An audience won’t buy what it doesn’t want and this abiding principle proliferates throughout all print and digital publishing today. Those creating content, and those selling it, rely on every available information-gathering opportunity to build an accurate audience profile (from demographic information to cookies and search history). And it’s something that has become increasingly convoluted in the digital space.
Facebook in particular has leapt in popularity, experiencing 18% year-on-year growth. It has 1.94 billion monthly active users and 1.28 billion daily active users worldwide as of March this year. That’s 1.94 billion people releasing details of their lives, their characters, their interests and their opinions on a regular basis. Superficially at least, that should be a gold mine for any data collection. Except that it isn’t.
According to CNN, there are 83 million fake profiles. And according to The Social Skinny, even in 2012, every 60 seconds 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded – it would take a gargantuan team to analyze that amount of data every minute of every day which means it falls to an algorithm. Can anyone else see the problem in trying to get an algorithm to assess and predict human behavior? Then there’s the issue of someone’s online life differing according to the platform they are on. Trying to build a profile of someone from their likes on Facebook, their photos on Instagram and their online purchase of groceries isn’t easy, in many cases it can be contradictory and downright deceptive.
Yet this is all that publishers (and consequently advertisers who often fund the content) have to go on.
As Mike Butcher in Techcrunch points out “a better scenario would be a platform that could look at all your actual purchasing behavior…and which was not locked inside the big social platforms or e-commerce giants? What if it was available to all publishers and content owners, and all the data, where users were anonymized, got larger and larger as more and more publishers joined? Would this not free them of the shackles of Facebook/Amazon/Google and the like?” Yes. And its name is ‘Audiences’, editorial commerce-related content from Skimlinks.
Primarily it involves placing ‘buy links’ inside relevant content, but then Skimlinks’ new product mines this data about purchase habits and makes it available to publishers. Where ad revenue is boosted from working hand-in-hand with the editorial content, the Skimlinks’ data collection feeds back to publisher and advertiser the actual buying habits of their audience group, enabling them to build an accurate audience profile.
What’s more, it is independent of any platform or media, it collects opted-in data from sites, page views and the shopping habits of 1.5 billion cookied users. That’s a lot of data. As Butcher points out: “The publishers that opt-in to ‘Audiences’ share in the revenues from Skimlinks’ data sales, but can also access the data for their own internal ad targeting and user insights. This creates a virtuous circle: publishers create more content that drives affiliate revenue as well as creating more user interactions, which in turn drives insights into the shopping behaviors of their readers, which fuels publishers’ strategic choices about what content to publish.” So, free data, an accurate audience profile and a co-op share in $50m Skimlinks’ yearly revenue? ‘Audiences’ could well be the publisher’s new BFF.
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