Trendspotting 2012: Rick Joyce

Rick Joyce
Chief Marketing Officer, Perseus Books Group

Congratulations, U.S. trade publishers – you have successfully surfed the Conversion Wave. Your frontlist and active backlist are now digital, and the remaining challenges (fixed format, complex conversions, deep backlist, out of print and reverted titles, etc.) are in sight of solution. Can publishers now relax? Nope—the next wave is already here: Digital Discovery, and it promises to offer similar disruptions, costs and opportunities.

Discovery is the next frontier for at least 5 reasons:

1) traditional marketing avenues are waning or fully optimized; 2) the entire chain of distribution-purchase-consumption is digital, and we are now wired for impulse purchases;  3) Every avenue of promotion is either born digital, or lives on digitally via coverage, amplification, archiving and/or sharing. 4) Smartphones and tablets mean that consumer attention is less captive by place and time and so can be spent in ways the consumer finds most rewarding; 5) Browsing is being reinvented and new tools for Interaction, Integration, Connection, Comments and Commerce are emerging.

So, while the goals of book discovery are fairly eternal—to get noticed, get sampled, get merchandised, get qualified, get awarded, get discussed, get bought, get read, get recommended, etc.—the means are rapidly evolving, and require attention:

  • Recommendations reinvention: recommendations that are increasingly amplified by social media, analyzed by metacritic-like scoring, and auto-generated by profile-based engines, etc.
  • Social Media Monitoring: Getting noticed means not only starting conversations (via traditional PR) but finding and analyzing relevant and influential conversations to join in real time—(via Twitter, Facebook, comments, posts, sentiment)
  • Platforms and Assets: these relevant social conversations don’t take well to ad-speak, so publishers need to have the right, more personal platforms, i.e. actual editors and authors rather than imprint Twitter handles.  And, the right bite-sized sharable assets (short excerpts, short video, value-added context, etc.) to contribute
  • Getting bought means not just being available for purchase on an e-tailer site, but coming up higher in search; so SEO and SEM techniques applied to enhanced metadata will be increasingly crucial

At Perseus, we have active efforts across all these discovery avenues, which requires leaning in with startups, inventing new tools, piloting new approaches, and coordinating across the ecosystem of author, publisher, retailer and discovery partners. Happy 2012—think of it as the Year of Discovery.