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Publishing Platform Selection

As publishers, media companies and information providers seek to better integrate, distribute and monetize their content, many are looking at new solutions for their core publishing platforms. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers here. As these systems are increasingly becoming the core for supporting content ingestion, enrichment, distribution and revenue generation, making the right choice has never been more important (or risky), and making the wrong choice can be disastrous. While there are myriad factors to consider, here are five that should be at the top of the list:

  1. Open/available APIs

  2. User identification

  3. Semantic enrichment

  4. Multi-platform flexibility

  5. Control

Open/available APIs: Most companies will not be able to meet all of their needs with any single platform. This means that any platform selected will need to integrate with existing or next generation systems. Good examples are in the areas of analytics, social media, and eCommerce – all critical elements. Complicating the process is the fact that content platforms are beginning to evolve into two camps, one providing monolithic, highly integrated functionality, which is great if it meets your needs, and the other that provides robust content management, but relies on APIs and “bolt-ons” for much else. Good if you need the flexibility; bad if you can’t get or build the interfaces.

User identification: Knowing who is using or buying your content is one thing; knowing the context of their purchases is even more important. This information forms the foundation for promotions, micro-campaigns, pricing strategies, and ultimately enables better service to the customer along with improved revenue opportunities. The impact is biggest for corporate or federated customers who are often only identified by IP range or organizational element. Selecting a system that allows more atomic identification is critical for enabling new revenue models, creating a customer connection, and providing enhances services and product offerings.

Semantic enrichment: Long viewed as primarily a publisher’s issue, semantic enrichment provides the enhanced ability to link, tag or relate seemingly disparate types of content, whether it be text, video, or audio into a single search, selection or product. It allows new content products to be created on the fly, and an immediate way to present customers with higher value (and higher profit) content. Platform providers often integrate semantic and taxonomic engines, but you need to ask yourself how much of it you can use out of the box, how easily can it be expanded, how long that will take, and how new content types will be identified, integrated and presented.

Multi-platform distribution: Not to be taken for granted – content platforms do not treat content equally, and as device form factors continue to change rapidly, any platform needs to have the flexibility to evolve. Knowing how your content will be presented before it is ingested is just as important as how it is tagged going into your content management platform. Fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of any platform you are evaluating to ensure it aligns with the types of content you create and distribute.

Control: Not that many years ago publishers all wanted their content management platforms hosted on premise. As cloud technologies and Software as a Service (SaaS) models advance, you need to balance the cost and support requirements of on premise solutions, with the potential cost saving and flexibility associated with hosted offerings. Cloud and SaaS models will tend to be less expensive as the provider can leverage infrastructure and staff across multiple clients. However, make sure you can retain access and control over the user interface, your own content, and that interfaces to your existing systems aren’t hindered. You’ll also need to be comfortable with the stability of the platform partner you choose. If your business is going to rely on your content platform, you’re success is increasingly tied to theirs.

As I said, there are many factors affecting the selection of a content platform, and all of them require an element of balance. That balance should be driven by strategic business needs, matched to what the technology can or cannot do. Respecting that balance and thinking through the five items above will go a long way to identifying or eliminating potential candidates, and reducing the chance of an expensive mistake

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