Fuse Forum: The Pursuit of Personalization – Key Takeaways

I had the good fortune of attending a recent forum organized by Fuse Media and PubExec entitled “The Pursuit of Personalization.” The forum was primarily geared towards web publishers and discussed the ins and outs of personalization. For those of you that weren’t able to make it, I’d love to share some key insights from the forum:

Denis Wilson, Editor-in-Chief at PubExec:

  • For publishers and advertisers to succeed, the industry must find ways for both ads and content to resonate on a higher level with consumers. That starts with personalization.
  • Two great examples of recent personalization efforts include Discover Weekly by Spotify and the content curation algorithm created by Netflix.

Steven Suthiana, Global Head, Digital Media & Operations at Fast Company:

  • The best way for publishers to increase their value to advertisers is by attracting high status audiences. Personalization is a big part of that.
  • Fast Company test’s content with a variety of segments and audiences in order to glean insights and improve personalization.
  • Personalization requires top-notch technology, but you can’t take out the human element. Humans are still necessary at some level for content curation.
  • Ads should be based on browsing history, but context is still really important. An IBM ad on Forbes is going to be a lot more powerful than the same ad on People.
  • Events are a great way to collect consumer data, a very valuable asset for monetization. Publishers need to be scrupulous about protecting their user data.
  • In regards to monetization, ads will always be at the core of the business, but publishers should be working towards subscription-based business models.

Tony D’Anna, CEO at PostUp:

  • PostUp provides an end-to-end email services technology for publishers.
  • Automated newsletters are a great way to engage with readers and bring them back to your site, but only when newsletters are personalized based on user data.
  • Making the offer to join a newsletter only works with it’s done at exactly the right time.
  • To see success from email, you need scale. You need to build your audience.
  • Email is a key tool for driving a subscription-based business model.

Josh Storch, Senior Director, Email & Data Operations at Haymarket Media:

  • Too many publishers are looking at short-term gains in revenue, but overlook the long-term. Bad user experiences will kill your revenues over time.
  • To increase revenues, you have to have the right consumer data. It’s what attracts good advertisers. In many ways, data is the name of the game.
  • Haymarket has found that Facebook ads are a great way to bring readers back at a relatively low cost.
  • A big industry challenge is getting editors to write based on what the data says is working, not based on what they believe is working. You need to keep your editors up-to-date about what content is working and being engaged with.
  • You have about 5 seconds to capture a user’s attention. Headlines, images, and topic choices need to be chosen based on that reality.

Michael Dugan, Advisor at Hearst Magazines:

  • With video not having enough supply, it’s important to personalize content based on the best formats for each user. That can really help with supply.
  • Content recommendation based on geographic location can be a very powerful tool.
  • Video ads need to be in the right context. Context really matters for engagement.
  • For personalization to work, it needs to be done with all content, not just ads.

Gene Bishop, VP of Technology at ALM:

  • Emails need to be personalized and not simply sent out to your entire audience. When you narrow your audience based on interests, you’ll see much higher engagement.
  • Newsletters and micro-subscriptions can work really well when personalized properly.
  • When it comes to content for professional fields such as law and consulting, email tends to work far better than social.

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