By Ross Benes

Here’s one more thing for small publishers to worry about: New net-neutrality rules are going to jack up the costs of doing business.

Rolling back net neutrality would relegate independent publishers to the slow lane of the internet because they’d be unable to afford access to high speeds. Large publishers with more cash can overcome this obstacle, but they’ll be hit with onerous fees and face possible competitive disadvantages from subsidiaries of internet-service providers receiving preferential treatment.

“I suspect that ISPs would create different tiers of data transmission speeds and prioritization,” said Fred Lane, an attorney who specializes in emerging technologies. ”Large corporations would be in a position to negotiate preferential treatment in ways not available to smaller content producers.”

See the full article featuring comments from CTO John Potter here: http://digiday.com/media/net-neutrality-hurt-publishers/

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By Max Willens

On Monday, The New York Times announced it had purchased The Wirecutter and its sister site, The Sweethome, for just over $30 million. The deal gives the Gray Lady a new source of income and its first taste of affiliate marketing, a revenue stream publishers have been exploring to supplement display ad revenue.

The Times is hardly the first publisher to go there. Publishers have for years been trying to get credit for the purchases they inspire on their pages and websites. Some experiments are now scuttled, like New York magazine’s Shop-A-Matic and ShopVogue.tv, but new ones are popping up all the time: In the past two months, Style.com relaunched as a commerce hub, and New York unveiled The Strategist, a web page offering product recommendations.

But these days, publishers aren’t trying e-commerce out as an experiment. Several publishers’ operations have gotten more sophisticated. Here are three ways publishers are making e-commerce into a real business.

Rewarding loyalty
Two years ago, Purch, a publisher of B2B and B2C brands that earns more than half of its revenue from e-commerce and lead generation, decided that it was overly reliant on search traffic, and that it needed to find a way to get more people to come back to its owned and operated sites.

Purch launched Perks, a loyalty site similar to another site it acquired, Active Junkie. Perks customizes its look and feel based on the site its visitors arrive from and has a loyalty program that offers cash to shoppers as a reward for buying there.

While Perks has only been live for a month, it’s already attracting the same number of daily users that Active Junkie did. “I’d much rather make $3 off you three times than $5 off you once,” said Phil Barrett, Purch’s senior vp and gm of shopper services. “Give away and build trust, and you will be rewarded.”

Read the full article here: http://digiday.com/publishers/three-ways-publishers-bringing-sophistication-e-commerce/

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By Ross Benes

Publishers have gotten data religion.

A few years ago, publishers began enlisting data scientists to help with audience building and monetization. But back in 2014, publisher data teams usually consisted of only a person or two. Since then, several publishers have expanded their number of full-time data experts. And their roles have grown too. Media data scientists are now developing apps based on machine learning, shaping content-management systems, teaming up with first-party data providers and testing augmented reality features. Here are a handful of large publishers that have increased their emphasis on data analysis.

Mashable
In 2013, Mashable brought on Haile Owusu, who has a doctorate in theoretical and mathematical physics, as its chief data scientist to work on the site’s analytics tool that predicts which articles will go viral. Since then, Mashable has hired two additional full-time data analysts and added an intern. In the past year, the data team led by Owusu has helped shape Mashable’s new CMS and its Knowledge Graph tool, which tracks how branded content on Mashable is shared through social platforms, email and text messages. The team was not affected by the round of 30 layoffs Mashable did in April. “There was a pent-up demand for insights around the performance of our content,” Owusu said.

Purch
The tech network, which publishes Top Ten Reviews and Live Science, is a different type of publisher in its data focus and commerce-heavy strategy. Purch launched its own ad tech platform, Ramp, in 2014. Since then, its number of data scientists grew from one to five. Their focus is mostly on creating recommendation models that pair content with related consumer products. “We realized how much data we had and that we needed to analyze it to know whether we were charging the right price for advertising,” said Purch CTO John Potter. With Microsoft’s HoloLens, Snapchat’s Spectacles and Google Glass in the news, Purch’s data team has been testing augmented reality features in Purch-owned shopping app ShopSavvy.

Read the full article here: http://digiday.com/publishers/newsrooms-expanding-data-teams/

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By Lucia Moses

If some publishers are cooling on Facebook Instant Articles, they’re becoming hot and heavy with Google AMP, the search engine’s answer to Instant Articles.

In February, Google rolled out AMP, which stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, on mobile search results in Google News. Publishers scrambled to adopt Google’s open-source code on their pages because search still drives close to 40 percent of referral traffic overall, and they know that as their audiences shift to mobile, having fast mobile pages can only help them get surfaced by Google’s algorithm.

“We love it,” said Ben Robinson, Thrillist’s editorial director. Thrillist is getting 15 percent of its search traffic from AMP, boosting its search traffic by more than a third, which he called “exciting,” given the company is more lifestyle than news. At news-heavy USA Today Network, AMP is generating 12 percent of all mobile page views, said Michael Kuntz, svp of digital there.

So although Instant Articles is a new channel, AMP is fast becoming the de facto mobile web, so publishers have little choice but to get on board. “You really need access to that audience,” said John Potter, CTO of Purch.

Read the full article here: http://digiday.com/publishers/publishers-excited-google-amp-traffic-wonder-revenue-will-follow/

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By Lucia Moses

It’s no longer enough for publishers to have indiscriminate scale. But measuring whether readers like your site has always been tricky. It’s hard enough to figure out where people are coming from, what they’re reading and why they leave. And metrics can be abused, as anyone who’s clicked through a multi-page online slideshow knows.

Purch is trying to change all that. Purch is a network of 15 tech sites including Top Ten Reviews, Live Science and Tom’s Guide, with product review-driven e-commerce a core part of its business. The company is trying to replace the timeworn pageview with a new reader engagement score based on how deeply a reader goes with content.

”The age-old pageview metric seems very antiquated,” Purch CEO Greg Mason said. “[The engagement score] is just a more intellectually honest way to rally around what it’s going to take to get more engagement around a brand.”

Read the full article here: http://digiday.com/publishers/pageview-antiquated-purch-trying-measure-true-reader-impact/

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