10 Requirements for Rich Content Optimization and Personalization

In today's ultracompetitive digital landscape, there isn't an online publisher or digital marketer who's not thinking about increasing advertising revenue and streamlining operations to save money, not to mention improving digital interactivity, personalization, recommendations, and content optimization to increase traffic, engagement, loyalty, e-commerce sales, and cross-selling of brands. But the question remains: How can these businesses use technology to differentiate themselves and their content packaging from other digital content providers?

Technology solutions provide many answers, but pose challenges, too, including consolidating content onto a single platform across the organization, not only for operational efficiency, but to better leverage all content and data and enable faster reaction to hot topics and events. Similarly, having a number of different systems and content archives can be an incredibly time-consuming and expensive manual process.

Additionally, how can marketers actively interpret and mine all the information they have available in a meaningful way and consolidate all publishing operations into a single platform across the organization?

A primary goal of media companies is to drive engagement between content and audience, yet these companies struggle to find the right technology to get the right content to the right people at the right time. Such an optimized mix can and does lead to increased engagement, more clicks, improved user satisfaction, incremental advertising inventory, content subscriptions, and ongoing loyalty. In the media world, content is still king, but relevance is fast becoming queen.

Delivering the right content to the right user at the right time drives engagement and business success. There is no approach available today that does this more dramatically, cost-effectively, and efficiently than unified information access.

An advanced unified information access platform can aggregate and analyze all relevant information, regardless of source or format. Following are 10 requirements for a unified information access platform that fully addresses today's digital media needs.

A unified information access platform can and must:

1. Seamlessly integrate disparate content, data sources (including databases, digital asset archives, and user profile data), and content management systems.

2. Provide a secure, high-performance data environment that scales incrementally as your requirements grow.

3. Provide enhanced search with features like predictive type ahead and disambiguation (Did you mean Paris Hilton or the Hilton Hotel in Paris?), and guard against user frustration from getting null or inaccurate results. It must provide a personalized experience through optimizing content by audience segment and be able to analyze additional data as it is added or learned.

4. Offer advanced content-analytic capabilities, such as entity extraction, key phrases, and sentiment analysis, at both the document and entity level. For example, "I love the new iPad. The resolution is just amazing, but the battery life is too short" shows both positive and negative sentiment in the same statement, so entity-level analysis is key for both social engagement and marketing insight.

5. Analyze behavioral data such as purchase history, user activity, and popularity to make relevant recommendations of additional content that might be of interest, as well as compare textual descriptions between content using metadata, topics, genres, concepts, or entities—and combine them to produce compelling results. Recommendation options should include:

  • If you like X, you'll like Y
  • Users similar to you liked X
  • Users in your social network like X
  • Show more like this

6. Enable creation of custom site sections and targeted microsites for every user in real time. It's important to note that this isn't about narrowing user experiences into filtered "personal homepages," but instead creating infinite channel opportunities across infinite topics, utilizing all of your readers' data and specific user queries, and driving long tail content engagement.

Let's say you have prebuilt sections for major global regions, but due to a major event, a specific topic or country is dominating the news that isn't on the front page. A reader could search, for example, "Italy" and immediately find a dedicated page with feature stories, videos, blogs, interactive maps, etc.

7. Include easy-to-use business rules to support features such as letting the user choose to save his custom content page or set up alerts by registering on the site—driving immediate incremental CRM data and membership/subscriber upsell. Maybe dynamic microsites and research pages are offered only to paying readers.

8. Support content spotlighting to highlight content for specific queries in the form of promotions. Examples include overriding organic search results with desired order of documents returned for a search query (such as promoting special features over single articles), removing certain documents from search result lists (such as external articles or social blogs), displaying a "Best Bets" set of links for a particular search query, displaying advertisements (image and text) for a particular search query, and redirecting end users to different Web sites for a particular search query.

9. Support a range of languages as required to serve increasingly borderless digital landscapes (including tokenization and entity and noun-phrase extraction).

10. Enable quick, accurate, affordable, and flexible content migration from legacy and archive systems via automated extract, transformation, and load processes. Reduce the fear of innovation by unlocking all your content and information assets, and unifying them in new intelligent and active indexes.

Alex Withers is the general manager of e-business at Attivio, a unified information access technology provider. He can be reached at awithers@attivio.com.

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