Personalization to Revitalize the Publishing Industry

Why to Personalize? Companies from various industries are trying to come up with customized offerings based on unique customer preferences. Traditionally, ‘One size fits all’ was the norm and Publishing industry used to have the same content available for everyone. And customers too had concerns of privacy and security about sharing personal data. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter etc made users comfortable about sharing personal stories. Internet Giants have endless possibilities for offering individualized content, and hence users spend more time on these platforms. It is one of the major reasons why print and publishing industry is continuously losing ad revenues to them. 

Nowadays, individuals face a state of information overload because of unlimited and most often free content around, and the numerous advertising campaigns vying for his limited attention. Many publishing platforms create hundreds of stories everyday. The user wouldn’t like to spend time or effort to navigate through these to find the interesting items. Providing the most relevant content to the person becomes very crucial and it can be done through Personalization, after knowing the individual preferences. Message alerts on the new developments of a person’s interest area is another example of personalization strategy. 

Another aspect of this issue is that most customers access the internet through their mobile phones. And the number of entries that can be displayed on the screen is limited. Personalized entries will improve the engagement with the reader and the time spent on the platform. 

Types of Personalization

It can be of 2 types - Active and Passive. Active Personalization means a user selects his preferences about which he would like to receive more information. And passive Personalization is done without the knowledge of the reader and it is based on details like the location and the browsing history. Majority of companies follow the passive method for personalization. 

Because the internet giants like Facebook and Google are receiving major chunk of the ad revenues, many publishing companies are shifting to a Subscription models. Providing valuable and timely content is crucial in subscription models and hence personalization is expected by customers. So, Implementing an excellent personalization strategy would be a first step in shifting towards a subscription model. Integration among multiple channels is also important in proving a smooth individualized experience for the user.

There are many brands which have implemented different types of personalization. One good example is Huffington Post which started a recommendation system, a few years back.. ‘Suggested for you’ section featured stories that were chosen based on the interests of the reader and the previous stories read. In a short span of time,It helped Huffington Post to increase the time users spent on the website and the number of articles they were reading on average. 

Many users, especially in the young generation prefer audio and video content more than reading materials. So, many firms have started creating podcasts and short videos which attract millions of users. In the coming years, we will witness novel approaches of personalization. But, one possible downside of Personalization is that the readers might become confined to only a few selected areas of interest and they might be totally unaware of many other domains, including socially relevant ones.