Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga

Structural Patterns

Reflections on Art, Technology and Society

Archive for the ‘Pearson’ tag

Digital Publishing Innovation Summit, Part 2

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Following Kretchmer of LiveFyre (see the first part of this post series), Marty Schecter of Wiley presented a business plan in which the publisher is transformed into a sort of life guide. That is a life guide that attempts to influence or to maintain a presence in the consumer’s career arc – from higher education to career launch to skill maintenance and development to professional communication and outreach.

Wiley sees itself as a “knowledge service” not merely a technical education publisher. It’s mission is to innovate with the customer and it does so by working with customers through the development of their products from wireframe to demo to beta to stable distribution and then product sales.

Schecter discussed the following options as the routes to market: build a channel, partner with companies that provide a channel or acquire channels. He then provided a breakdown of product development:

  1. Proof of Concept that includes smoke tests, lead users and the setting up of a test site to gauge interest.
  2. Live Demo that includes working with critical partners and early adaptors.
  3. MVP (minimum viable product) with the lead generation through free trials.
  4. Release of a mature product, distribute updates, generate conversation and engagement.
  5. Product Expansion by developing new services, up sell and cross sell.

For Wiley, the target consumer is the individual who wishes to become a product manager. The product manager who has a technical background, a business degree and has startup experience. This is the individual who understands all the components that it takes for a product to succeed and can communicate between the various specializations from concept, design and tech to marketing to consumer.

He wrapped up by making the point that in the digital world everything starts small and must be nurtured to grow and succeed.

Following lunch, Rick Ferrie of Pearson discussed “Accessibility and Digital Publishing” and clearly pointed out that accessibility provides a competitive advantage due to an underserved global market, as illustrated in the numbers below.

Need for digital accessibility

Data reflecting the need for accessibility in applications and the web.

Ferrie explained that as books moved from print to digital, accessibility advocates expected things to get better. However, they did not (Flash has played a large role in lack of accessibility). Over the last three years aggressive advocacy has ramped up. As a response, content repositories such as NIMAC have grown and efforts such as Marrakesh Treaty have helped. However, Ferrie does not want to see repositories become permanent middlemen for the access of content. Hence content providers should provide the accessibility themselves. They may easily do so by planning accessibility as part of the product, and following standards and good coding. Accessibility is easy if it is built in during production, not as an after thought.

Following the need for digital accessibility, was a millennial speaker, Kenton Jacobson of The Blaze which he announced as the single largest WordPress site. Jacobson focused his talk on the need for comments – how The Blaze used comments to build its audience and the evolution of its comment system through audience feedback. He pointed out that votes are much more common than comments, with merely a click of a button there tends to be 10 votes to every single comment. The Blaze of course employed AJAX to implement immediate commenting tools. Votes are used to sort the content. Jacobson’s underlying point was that users understand the system differently than you do and therefore must be consulted and listened to in order to build a successful publishing tool and a happy audience.

The Blaze

The Blaze has focused on user comments to build its audience.

Site commenting slide

Comments are powerful

Digital Publishing Innovation Summit, Part 1

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It seems that a more appropriate name for the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit would be the “Digital Publishing Survival Summit.” I may be naive, but I did not expect that the driving topics of a digital publishing conference would be advertising and socialization.

Today, I attended the first day of the two-day conference “Digital Publishing Innovation Summit” featuring speakers from Gannett, Scholastic, Harper Collins, Wiley, Pearson, Conde Nast… at the Marriott East Side in Manhattan. I went expecting/hoping to hear about revolutionary ways of producing and publishing multimedia content i.e. text, image, audio, video, data visualization for multiple platforms from a single source. That is to hear about the integration of multimedia for the web, ebooks and apps from a single click. That magical editor that allows for the integration of file formats to produce rich interactive content across platforms. No such luck, clearly the best bet is HTML5/CSS/JS and the modern browser… that much I knew. Instead the speakers focused on transformations that publishers have begun to make and will continue to figure out in order to reach a diverse audience across diverse platforms.

Amongst the speakers there was a mix of old and new from long-standing publishing companies to digital native startups. I’m going to give a quick rundown of the speakers and what I took away from their presentations.

I arrived late and only caught the last ten minutes of Gannett’s David Payne – “The Hard Thing About Hard Things in Media.” I don’t think that I missed much, because the wrap up was merely about the diverse challenges that publishers face today, most of which have been widely publicized over the last decade.

I very much enjoyed Scholatic’s Heather Cassano presentation on UX and product development through “LightningLabs.” She effectively broke down 4-day design challenge in which a group of about 5 people are given a design challenge:

  • Day 1 – Brain Prep – get everyone on the same page, look at goals, review information on stakeholders, available products, analyze the problem. The first day includes “lunch time theater” in which the participants enact prototypical stakeholders. The actors reflect the skill set, attitude, behavior and needs (personas are assigned a week ahead so actors may prep). Another portion of the first day is the “Amazing Race” in which the participants spend a few minutes with various apps, use them, try to figure them out. Participants consider the UX pyramid, from the bottom up: Goals, Tone/Expression, Personality, Promise.
  • Day 2 – Prototyping and iteration using paper and stencil UX toolkit to make lots of designs. At the end of the day, the bake off presents the best idea to then make a paper functioning version.
  • Day 3 – Usability testing with 6 diverse users. She pointed out that 6 diverse users will reflect 80% of what a larger test-base would present… 6 users can represent the target. Since it’s Scholastic, the development group may go to a school on day 3 to test with groups – 4 teachers and 5 students.
  • Day 4 – Create higher-fidelity prototype and test again. Establish a roadmap for the product and future work – plan next lab, if the product is worth pursuing.

The next speaker Jim Daily of Ebuzzing & Teads is a tool. He spent several minutes talking about and demonstrating video ads. “In-read” ads that are embedded in articles, they only play with sound when moused over, they have skip buttons which will make them disappear or social buttons to share… And a second type of video ad that opens from the top with the same behavior. Not very interesting or innovative, but Jim Daily did open by pointing out that he knows how to make money. No meat, but he was quick.

Brian Perrin and Jim Hanas of Harper Collins discussed the lasting power of deep immersive reading. They pointed out that book revenues are now UP, both print and ebooks. Over the last several years there has been a difficult period of transition toward establishing ebook systems that have now begun to stabilize. They can now predict how many print and ebooks of a publication will sell and that print and ebooks work together for sales. People will pick up the hard copy to review it and later purchase the ebook. The print book acts as an ad for the ebook. What they are still working on is direct to consumer marketing and sales. Hence they have partnered with subscription services like Oyster Books and Scribd.

Jordan Kretchmer, founder and CEO of LiveFyre was very entertaining and informative. In “Taking Back Your Community: How to Build an Engaged Audience” Kretchmer made a pitch for publishers to socialize their sites and steal back their audience from FB or Twitter. He pointed out that publisher’s content is making money for the social networks – people engage and share content through FB, so he considers these viewers as “leased” viewers since they really belong to FB.

Rather than depending on the social networks for distribution of a publishers content, why don’t the publishers build their own channels that are visited directly. He pitched a socialization business plan of Content, Engagement, Identity and Monetization.

Kretchmer presented Storify and Mashable as two content builders that are making the most of the web. Cnet as a great example for user engagement. So much of engagement today depends on connectivity – who in the audience is connected to one another and why, what do they have in common? Identity – who is the user, what will drive a user to write a comment? Monetization through user generated content. Examples include Nike using images by consumer to make banner ads. Univision with T-Mobile to create a platform for user generated content around the World Cup.

As each speaker was given 30 minutes, this was only in the morning! I’ll continue into the afternoon on the next post.