Day 3 of BIMS Tackles AI, Editorial Trust and Marketing's Three C's

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“One of the things that has struck me is how comfortable publishers are getting with data now,” said Russell Perkins, founder and president of InfoCommerce Group. “Media companies are pushing with different levels of intensity, seeing the potential of it. [Opening keynote speaker] Debra Walton said she is seeing that on a smaller scale now, data products becoming important to customers. ‘You’ve got to keep up with us.’

“Data publishers are getting much more sophisticated. It used to be predictive analytics, now the next big thing is prescriptive analytics. 'We’re going to tell you what to do.' Data products are becoming increasingly central to customers.”

A hallmark of the Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS), which concluded yesterday in Fort Lauderdale, has been that it tells more about where the industry is going rather than where it has been. And BIMS 3.0 felt no different this week. The final morning was filled with speakers on the latest trends, from account-based marketing to new tools tracking website visitors to training and hiring for data sales—the next step in that burgeoning piece of publishing business.

Appropriately, artificial intelligence came with our morning coffee, delivered by Babak Hodjat, CEO and co-founder of Sentient, and one of the visionaries involved in the building of Siri. “AI is a collection of tools that mimic facets of intelligence that we observe in humans or in nature,” he told us.

“Everything is an AI problem. You want to optimize the decision-making that you can replace with artificial intelligence. AI is not just about modeling; it’s about being adaptive. And it’s already disrupting commerce.”

Hodiat showed us examples of shopping websites where artificial intelligence is already having an impact, as the customer clicks to narrow down his or her preferences. “It’s improving design, conversion rates, click-thrus,” said Hodjat. It remains to be seen just how quickly publishers will be able to monetize this incredible technology.

Here are more highlights from Thursday, many from a final wrap-up session that tied a nice bow on this three-day information and networking bonanza:

Document all the steps you’re taking in learning about GDPR. Even if you get something wrong along the way, it shows good faith, Slade Cutter of Witliff, Cutter, Austin told us. Try to learn about it and comply with it—even that level of justification will help.

Look at messaging. Matt Yorke, CMO of SourceMedia, asked, why shouldn’t messaging be a serious part of B2B? In fact, Joe May of Pro Farmer showed me a text alert of theirs that had just gone out, saying those alerts are very popular with their audience. (It involved hogs.) Yorke also said to check out Axios, from one of the founders of Politico. They’re doing amazing things with sponsored content in their overall presentation of newsletters.

Value the editorial trust of your readers. “We never write to please advertisers,” Greg Krehbiel of Kiplinger said in a session on tracking your website visitors. He said that one of their authors may write an article about credit scores and mention Of course, that will be totally independent of the business side. But then once that article is written, they may stick a link in to get affiliated revenue. He said it can get a little more dicey when links are changed or removed, and SEO rankings become involved.

Let the three C’s guide you. Barb Kaplowitz of Big Huge Ideas talked about her three C’s of marketing: content—that’s still king; , communications—are you sending enough notices out?; and camaraderie—the trust you develop with someone you have a relationship with. The reinforcement comes through activities with your communities. The onboarding/engagement/renewal process should be seamless—customers shouldn’t see any difference.

Build a culture of innovation, where employees are encouraged to step up and come up with new ideas. A striking example of this was Victoria Mellor recalling coming to her boss with a great idea about a business around internal communications and being shunned. But then Elizabeth Green of Brief Media saying that some of the turning points of her company came when employees came to her with fresh ideas. And she implemented them.

Measure your customers’ engagement from their home. One company has found that a key metric has become measuring if their audience is looking at their site and products from home. It shows being curious about your profession and wanting to be better. Being able to track someone engaging your content from home is a huge metric, Denise Elliott of Kiplinger said.

Monetize your readers wherever they go. The new goal is to monetize your readers not just on your digital properties but other websites too. It’s a way to sell highly targeted advertising and to bring scale to programmatic. If you can own your data, understand your data, you can monetize your audience on and off your site. Otherwise, other people will monetize your readers.

Talk to your audience when developing a new product—especially one in data. That engagement and feedback loop should be continuous and ongoing. You may find great new product ideas dropped in your lap.

Give a human face to what you’re covering. North Coast Media went as far as writing an interview with a hornet for their pest control audience. Bethany Chambers said that it humanized an aspect of the market and engaged more of their audience. What’s your Game of Thrones

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…