Content is everywhere. In fact, there is an overabundance of content out there at the click of a button or the swipe of the screen. Now more than ever, with digital content on the rise, it is imperative for publishers (and their digital solutions partners) to connect content and users. That means having to understand consumer behavior, viewer engagement, and user experience to ensure targeted and successful (read: monetized) content dissemination.

And all this involves ensuring content—specifically articles, books, journals, and media assets—that is meta-tagged and enriched, made agile and adaptive for multichannel distribution, and kept future-ready for transformation and retooling into new products through different delivery formats. That is quite a tall order.

Ensuring Accessible Content

Content that is “born accessible” enhances discoverability and usability, says Mike Groth, marketing director at Cenveo Publisher Services, which has long been a champion of digital equality.

Accessible content, for instance, plays better in the Siri and Alexa era. Voice searching is exploding, and content with high-quality metadata is perfectly optimized for this phenomenon, while content that meets accessibility standards can avoid being penalized in search rankings. Groth adds that “accessibility also involves adding meaning to content via alternate text descriptions to images and non-text items, and semantic tagging—both of which capture more discoverable information than keyword searches alone.”

K–12 publishers who must comply with government mandates are well-versed in “born accessible” content, Groth adds, “but journal publishers are still waking up to the notion that properly structured and tagged content and metadata—the foundation of accessible content—provide a better product experience, improve rendering for multiple formats, and increase discoverability.” (Groth chaired a panel discussion at the SSP annual meeting in May on the importance of accessibility in scholarly publishing.)

Moreover, making content accessible provides a competitive edge over other products or companies, and it protects against having to (re-)convert static formats in the future. “The market is large. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, over 10% of students enrolled in higher education have a disability, and this includes a large and growing number of students with visual and cognitive impairments and print-based disabilities,” Groth says.

Further Improving Metadata

Metadata management is key to creating better visibility, searchability, and discoverability across the digital landscape. “The same metadata is often used multiple times to generate revenues,” says Vinay Kumar Singh, executive director and CEO of Thomson Digital. He adds, “The speed of managing content simultaneously on multiple platforms becomes essential for making content ready for all types of users at every digital platform. With our efficient workflow and delivery mechanism, we can drive the speed to achieve faster reach of the content through improved metadata management.”

Thomson Digital, and in particular DigiScape (its innovative technology wing), offers automation in metadata management and helps clients to build content-monetization strategies. “We provide innovation support and technology expertise to build solutions that can handle the business case of discoverability and content monetization,” adds Singh, whose team is now developing intelligent usage-analytics tools that will offer data drill-down capabilities to help publishers in further increasing their content reach to users, and thus better monetization.

Publishers, Singh says, are experimenting with different models of content monetization. “New technology and innovation in digital media have opened newer avenues for building various monetization models. We understand that content must be adaptive for future use, and the same must go for monetization strategy, which must also be flexible and nimble.”

“Our clients are making their content discoverable by indexing it using keywords from a structured thesaurus and providing an abstract so that the customer can make a ‘buy’ decision, and thus monetizing the content,” explains Vidur Bhogilal, vice chairman of Lumina Datamatics. “Publishers need to use machine learning for automated indexing and search-engine optimization. They can also ensure that the metadata for their content is crisp and accurate, which is certainly a plus.”

For one of Lumina Datamatics’ university clients, the team captures metadata in a semiautomated fashion and ensures 100% accuracy using custom-built validators. “We are also indexing the content with headings and subject descriptors, so that it is discoverable and relevant to the user,” Bhogilal adds. For another client, a content aggregator, the team indexes approximately 400,000 articles annually so that users can find the appropriate content from a vast collection of titles comprising various genres and languages.

“Existing projects can be tweaked to include semiautomated indexing engines based on business rules,” Bhogilal says. “This coupled with machine learning will enable us and publishers to process high volumes of content to make it discoverable. Publishers can also ensure that the content is high-quality and engaging, which in itself will ensure that it is monetized by multiple shares on social media.”

Deploying Artificial Intelligence

Discoverability is one of the best AI applications for publishers, says Uday Majithia, assistant v-p of technology, services, and presales at Impelsys. “AI tools can help discover characteristics of top-ranking content and offer real-time recommendations on how to improve content performance. Based on user behavior, AI can make content recommendations, and based on the interaction, it can recommend and implement campaign strategies. Besides, AI can also be used for other marketing-related activities, such as customer segmentation based on behavior and intent, lead prioritization, sales strategy, and retargeting.”

Semantic tagging for research content, for instance, is a powerful method for accurate content discovery, and Impelsys’s iPC platforms currently support semantic tagging, which is an AI-based operation. “For discoverability, we have widgets, a type of promotional tool that consists of smart cover art for titles that can be embedded as banner advertisements in social networking sites, blogs, and book-review pages. Widgets add to the visibility of the titles across the web,” Majithia explains.

“ViewInside is another marketing tool that we use to help publishers showcase their titles and let the readers have a glimpse of what’s in the book, eventually helping them to buy. Readers can view the table of contents and share sample content on social media and through email,” Majithia adds.

Enhancing Content for Marketing

Content plays a crucial role in marketing and reaching out to consumers across digital touchpoints, says Subrat Mohanty, CEO of HurixDigital. “We have identified this potential for content marketing and built our DigiCM360 services to help brands and companies engage with their customers on digital platforms. Our team helps enterprises drive positive business outcomes with DigiCM360 content-marketing solutions.”

HurixDigital combines social listening, analytics, and insights with compelling digital content to deliver maximum customer engagement. “Some of the biggest names in the banking, financial-services, and insurance industry have leveraged DigiCM360 solutions to augment their online presence. It is a matter of time before traditional publishers realize the benefits of digital marketing to improve reader engagement and enhance discoverability, which will then lead to improved monetization. And when that happens, HurixDigital will be well placed to offer publishers its content-marketing services.”

Emerging technologies can provide substantial benefits to publishers in terms of enhanced end-user experience, competitive advantage, and monetization, says Rahul Arora, CEO of MPS. “One of our short-term priorities is to collaborate with our customers as their trusted technology partner to help them identify and implement the latest technology innovations that make the most sense.”

The future of publishing, Arora adds, “will be more about engaging, nurturing, and monetizing the end consumer. So personalization of content is crucial, and our product-enhancement initiative is focused on driving the content strategy by using technology that can leverage audience data and recommend relevant content for consumption. Another of our initiatives is improving the mobile experience and helping publishers to transition into a mobile-first culture for successfully interacting with, and engaging consumers in, what has become the primary browsing environment.”