Latest news: partnership with Ten Alps
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I've just made an announcement that we've signed an agreement with Ten Alps to have them sell IngentaConnect advertising inventory on our behalf. This is an exciting development for IC's advertising programme, and allows us to add a touch of glamour to the blog with a gratuitous picture of Bob Geldof, founder of Ten Alps.
18 months on from launching our advertising programme, over half of the 11,000 e-publications we host now support ads on their publication, issue and article/chapter homepages. Major publishers like Springer, Emerald and - new addition this year - Taylor & Francis are now exploring this alternative revenue stream for their online content.
For more information:
Bridging between the blogging and scientific communities
Thursday, January 24, 2008
The comment and the subsequent discussion is worth reading. There's an interesting comment Geoff Bilder about CrossRef's forthcoming blog engine plugin; keep an eye on CrossTech for a formal announcement.
The BPR3 project is also making practical steps towards helping link up discussions in these two domains.
I've been arguing for a long time that publishers need to keep an eye what's happening in the blogging arena, as its a good test bed for exploring the transformation of discourse (scholarly or otherwise) that the Web enables.
Publishing Technology Trends: key issues in the development of publishing
Thursday, January 17, 2008
- “web transfer” – the early 1990s, when early adopters hastily and perhaps clumsily posted everything we could online
- “web synthesis” – the late 90s and early 00s; we tried to build on the web’s capabilities by making new things work
- “web catalyst” – the age we are now entering; a networked society reinventing the online experience from the bottom up
Larger publishers have been slow to come on board with the catalyst age because they are generally too distant from their users. Nonetheless, during the last year, a lot of activity has been stimulated by:
- workflow and the desire to enhance productivity for our users
- compliance issues as the industry becomes more standardised
- growing familiarity with users as we monitor what they do before and after visiting our site
- building brands in the networked environment
- helping perplexed users to filter the wealth of content with which they are inundated.
- break the schackles of the network operators; Asia and Europe are driving change in this area, though the US is still attached to inappropriate and old-fashioned standards
- embrace vertical search for the authority it can bestow upon subject-specific content
- use tag clouds to monitor rapidly changing user requirements
- create competitive advantage by positioning organisations within social and enterprise networks to support growth of sector-based communities
- capitalise on consumer power with innovative marketing and product development
- recognise the value of bundling and syndicating content to grow revenues
- insist on agile mindset, organisation and processes
- be clear on value proposition
- adopt new channels
- experiment with new revenue models
- look for cost reduction through reinvention
- assess readiness
- drive speedier time to market
- watch valuations and drive cash flow.
Publishing Technology Trends: keeping pace with online challenges
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Even now, the online revolution remains the biggest challenge facing publishers today; many have not yet scratched the surface of the digital potential of their content, while those who have made some progress are nonetheless challenged by the speed of technological evolution, which increasingly disconnects key sources of competitive advantage from their traditional core competences.
The digital challenge can be broken down into a number of elements:
- user expectations, particularly as users become more familiar with the web and other software applications
- technology shifts - and knowing which ones you need to keep up with
- rate of change, which is much quicker in the online world than in the print world
- how to monetise content; even mission-based publishers should be seeking to maximise the revenue potential of their content.
Online shopping (Amazon) and social web (Facebook, MySpace, orkut, YouTube, reddit, StumbleUpon...) sites not only encourage more users to spend more time on the web, they shape those users' expectations of how websites look and, more importantly, how they function. And users of these sites are more in our target demographic than we expect, with 53% of MySpace users and 42% of Facebook users in the 35+ category. Furthermore, a strong brand or compelling content will not protect providers from the need to innovate. Fodors, an authoritative and well-known brand founded 70 years ago, with a 10-year-old online presence and 700 global correspondents, has lost ground to Trip Advisor, a 7-year-old newcomer which can boast more traffic than its older rival. Trip Advisor is interactive and incorporates user-generated material along with practical functions (e.g. trip planning) which attract and engage users more than plain old-fashioned reviews.
Technology shifts and rate of change
The adoption curve for new technologies is increasingly steep. Three years ago, only non-adopters had heard of AJAX, but 62% of CTOs surveyed during 2007 were expecting to have it in use by the end of the year. Analysing adoption of Facebook applications tells a similar story - Funwall, introduced in Aug 2007, had 4 million users by December - and 1.5 million of those had signed up in the last 7 days alone. The converse of such quick adoption, of course, is quick abandonment when things go wrong - a minor bug in Facebook app Superpoke saw it lose hundreds of thousands of users in a few days; they migrated to a substitute application that did not have the bug.
Content delivery processes used to be binary; publishers delivered their content to consumers. But now we use multiple channels to reach users, and package content with supplementary elements which have begun to be perceived as part of the product (community and mobile features, for example). A consistent platform is required to support this level of functionality - one that allows for modules to be bolted on when new features are required. Topical features include:
- Granularity - of content, of licensing, of reporting, and so on
- Microsites - interlinked but separately-branded sites that support a publisher's house of brands
- Virtual bookshelves through which publishers can participate in the buzz around their product (author blogs and "view inside" snippets, etc.)
- Community features such as user-generated reviews and recommendations
- End user personalisation, allowing users modify their experience according to their preferences (for example, users over 36 tend to be searchers whereas those under 36 tend to be browsers)
Publishing Technology Trends: adding value to visitors
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Behavioural targetting is gaining traction in the advertising industry. Traditional online advertising values users based on their context, and favours big sites that have their own sales force and connections to networks; smaller providers simply had no way of breaking into these networks. Behavioural targetting, however, values users for themselves rather than for their context. It's the long tail of advertising; small user groups can be monetised much more successfully, enabling smaller site owners to benefit. An understanding of the user's interests enables the site owner to deliver content based on *them*, rather than on the niche interest reflected by the site they are visiting. Behavioural targetting has thus caused an attitudinal shift among agencies and advertisers; suddenly, it's not about *where* an ad is displayed, but about *who* it is displayed to. Publishers can now be rewarded for having built up a community of users.
Behavioural targetting has also extended the areas that advertisers can tap into, beyond the limitations of contextual channels. Agencies such as Tacoda, which provides software and services that support behavioural targetting, can provide comprehensive statistics that not only enable optimisation of advertising strategies but that further help publishers to understand their users, which in turn can help publishers refine web strategies from traffic management to content segmentation.
Simply, behavioural targetting works by categorising the sites within a site owner's network and noting which categories of site are visited by a user. Profiling is anonymous (using browser cookies) and no personal data is collected or stored. Browsing behaviour is monitored and the data is matched into one of many hundreds of profiles. Once the cookie (and thus, the user) has been matched to a profile, appropriate ads are displayed. Site owners have control over the types of ads displayed and can respond to any sensitivities in their userbase; they also benefit financially from contributing the data that helps to build core profiles.
Publishing Technology Trends: beyond articles
Monday, January 14, 2008
In this digital era, argues Toby Green, publishers should be doing a lot more with content than simply posting it online in static, print-inherited formats. And sure, we've made some concessions to the additional functionality offered by online publishing (e.g. interlinking articles with DOIs), but generally the content being linked is still static and two-dimensional. Users may expect scholarly articles to adhere to a fairly dry, traditional format - but we can begin to introduce data and functionality around them that have no need of such restrictions. A table within an article could link to a spreadsheet of the full dataset. This in turn could link to an entire database - giving the user the opportunity to manipulate existing data in pursuit of their own research goals. And the loop could be closed with a further link - "do you want to see analysis of this data?" - back to the original article.
The Center for Global Development is taking just such a progressive approach to its data with web services like its Commitment to Development Index. Clean, contemporary visualisation is combined with mouse-over functionality to enable users to interact easily and effectively with datasets that in their raw form would be dauntingly dense.
The appeal - and potential - of this approach is demonstrated by the success of Gapminder ("taking information that's 'dry as dust' and making it visible through animation. Making sense of the world by having fun with statistics!"), which which was snapped up by Google last March. In allowing users to quickly and easily access and compare data sets it enables powerful penetration of that data to reveal otherwise unheeded truths - for example, comparing time periods, countries and mortality rates in its simple interface highlights reduced life expectancy in post-AIDS Botswana.
A final example, Seed Magazine's Science in Silico, harnesses the greater flexibility of online publishing formats to publish messages which simply could not be communicated in traditional two-dimensional formats.
OECD is responding to this vision of multi-dimensional data as it develops its publishing platform. The organisation is also collaborating with CrossRef to expand the types of data that can be deposited to CrossRef and thus cited independently of the articles to which it relates.
Toby's session prompted a number of questions from the audience, ranging from restrictions that apply to DOI application (currently, submission to CrossRef requires metadata to be supplied in a schema designed for journals) to the business models under which additional data could be made available to users (OECD's is, effectively, free to subscribers) and the copyright/IP concerns of publishing data that has been produced within a research institution.
Publishing Technology Trends: authoritative? What's that? And who says?
Friday, January 11, 2008
We held the first event in our new Publishing Technology Trends seminar series. The venue was Shakespeare's Globe theatre, on the banks of the river Thames in London. The session we held there was designed to communicate the latest developments in information industry technology to selected publishing industry executives. I made copious notes, which I will share with you in a series of postings over the next few days. First up is a review of the session by our own Chief Technology Officer, Leigh Dodds, entitled "Authoritative? What's that? And who says?"
Sated by lunch or fascinated by the topic? For whatever reason, you could have heard a pin drop among our audience as Leigh Dodds reviewed the ways in which we ascribe authority to content, explored the potential for crossover between traditional peer review and emerging Web 2.0 systems, and considered whether we can make processes more visible to end users.
The massive amounts of information available both through conventional publishing channels and on the web make it difficult for users to find reliable information. Particularly disturbing for publishers is that users are, ultimately, more concerned with finding an answer to their question than with issues of authority. Furthermore, users often have a very different understanding of authority to publishers; consider, on the one hand, the widely-accepted Google model wherein subjective measures of popularity and relevance are a proxy for authority, and on the other, publishers’ expectation that authority denotes submission to, and acceptance by, a formal process.
Despite the well-documented cases of abuse in the last year, editorial control – and particularly peer review – remains the most effective way to filter research output ensuring that published content is the most relevant, interesting and authoritative in its field. However, this formal publishing process is subject to pressures including the costs of filtering ultimately unsuitable content (average turnaways are 80%); the time it can take for content to undergo the process; and the constant need for the new material which attracts most usage.
Web 2 publishing certainly reduces the time-to-market as the majority of processes take place post-publication. User-generated sites such as Wikipedia certainly benefit from the speed and simplicity with which pages can be created, reviewed and edited - but even Wikipedia itself does not describe the content delivered through such "creative anarchy" as authoritative. Its creator attempted to deal with some of its infamous problems in the business model for second-attempt Citizendium - which only allows editing by registered users, incorporates marks of "quality" and is managed by subject editors. The success of sites such as Postgenomic suggests that the "wisdom of crowds" approach is even more effective within a subject silo, while their ability and tendency to include related material (conference programmes and reports, blog postings) brings them closer to traditional publishing.
Nature Publishing Group attempted to combine the traditional and emerging approaches with its open peer review trial. Although ultimately unsuccessful, the project was noted for its transparency - options included making identities of authors and reviewers public, publishing reviewer comments and even allowing end users to contribute. However, this transparency may have contributed to the project's lack of popularity, as academics will naturally be wary of publicly criticising one another's work. The lack of integration with other workflows was another factor preventing this concept from catching on at Nature, but one interesting observation was that posting content online earlier in the publication process did encourage authors to make it more presentable; a transfer of responsibility for some part of the copyediting process from publisher to author.
Leigh proposed taking forward the "open" concept in terms of openly demonstrating to users that content has been reviewed in some way, for example with a kitemark for peer review. As with Creative Commons licences, this would need to combine human-readable logos with machine-readable embedded metadata. Kitemarked content could therefore by searchable (as Creative Commons content currently is). A current example which displays promise is the BPR3 scheme, which enables bloggers to mark postings containing scholarly subject matter (in order to separate them from personal postings); BPR3 is being reviewed by CrossRef, which may carry out prototype work (in which Ingenta would participate).
Leigh has bookmarked further reading material at http://del.icio.us/ldodds/charleston-2007-11; please do share your comments below.
Appointments: Rebecca Lenzini and Jeff Downing join Ingenta's business development teams
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
- Rebecca Lenzini has joined us as Director of Business Development, Publisher Services
- Jeff Downing will shortly be joining us as Manager, Library Relations
I've posted press releases about these appointments on our website (Jeff's, Becky's), if you want to read all the details. As you can probably tell, I'm very excited to be welcoming two such stellar individuals to the Ingenta team. 2008 is looking good so far!
Join our Client Management Team!
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
If you have excellent customer service skills and a head for business then drop us a line. Details (along with other current UK vacancies) can be found here:
Sweet sixteens: some new publishers for IngentaConnect
Monday, January 07, 2008
Here then, to summarise, are the 16 new clients (with links to their content for those that are already live):
- Agricultural University of Szczecin
- American Academy of Audiology
- Cork University Press
- Essential Oil Consultants SARL
- Ethis Communications
- Franz Steiner Verlag
- Hellenic Veterinary Medical Society
- Institut National d’Etudes Démographiques
- The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST)
- Institute for Transportation
- International Journal of Engineering Education
- Middle East Institute
- National Herbarium of the Netherlands
- Oxford Business Group
- Society for Underwater Technology
- The Society of Indexers
The spirit of the holidays has not entirely left me so I'll end with a Christmas-quiz-type-question: I've made a mistake in this posting. Which of our new publishers could have helped me to fix it?
Post your answers in the comments and I will pop by to confirm those who have got it right in due course.