Citing the growing publishing industry need for more direct marketing to consumers, the Ingram Content Group has begun rolling out its first B2C program. Ingram iD is an advertising platform developed specifically for book publishers by Ingram’s consumer marketing services department, which is directed by Kim Schutte.
The goal of Ingram iD is to provide an affordable option for publishers to promote their titles, author events, or other programs directly to consumers. In recent years, the number of sales channels has exploded, making book promotion more difficult. Publishers now need to reach consumers directly, said Phil Ollila, chief content officer at Ingram. “Social media and other data-driven online marketing is shifting the industry to think about targeting readers and book buyers directly,” he added. “Publishers’ and booksellers’ marketing to readers will be more targeted, more measurable, and more meaningful.”
To that end, Ingram has designed a system that can help publishers create the types of ads they want, place them where they want, and direct them to the audiences they want. After logging into Ingram iD, a publisher can begin to set up a campaign by entering the title or ISBN of any book Ingram carries; no metadata inputs are necessary. There are prompts that guide publishers on the best way to write headlines and body copy to take advantage of search terms favored by the major platforms. Ingram iD ads can appear on Amazon, Facebook, and Google platforms, with more options to be added, including Ingram’s own consumer websites. Publishers can also submit art, or have Ingram add art such as cover images.
The objective of Ingram iD is to make reaching readers easier, quicker, and cheaper than using one of the major platforms, said Erin Cox, senior manager of consumer sales. She noted that publishers can pay for ads by credit card.
Another unique aspect of Ingram iD is that it provides access to Ingram’s Verified Readers list, a database of several million names that the company has been collecting through its own websites and data partnerships. Within the database, Ingram currently has 44 reader audience segments—27 in fiction and 17 in nonfiction, all aligned with BISAC categories—and publishers can use that list to pick which audience, or audiences, they want to target.
Ollila called the development of Verified Reader profiles “one of Ingram’s most significant recent initiatives.” Ingram has been creating the database for several years, and Ollila believes the company has captured a significant number of different types of readers. “We’ve been testing our efficacy with these audiences since the beginning of the year and can say with confidence that, given the alternatives, our ability to reach large micro-targeted audiences that map directly to publishing categories is more effective and efficient than the other options out there.”
By filtering out nonreaders, Ingram iD lowers the cost per click for publishers. As part of an ad buy, a publisher can choose its budget for the ad and will see an estimated number of clicks and impressions prior to checkout.
Ollila stressed that Ingram is not selling books directly to consumers and that publishers decide where each ad should link. Some beta users have chosen to link directly to retail sites; some to their own websites, where they have a variety of retailer buttons; and some to other destinations such as event registration pages, he noted.
At present, Ingram iD is geared primarily to publishers, but Ollila sees other industry players such as booksellers and authors using the tool. He envisions booksellers using Ingram iD to support specific book promotions, virtual author events, and themed promotions. “They can create ads and drive traffic directly to their online store or any other site they are promoting,” he said.
For the next month or so, Ingram iD will be in a soft-launch phase, requiring publishers to contact the company before using it. By December, Ingram expects access to the advertising platform to be available directly from the company’s website.