The 2022 Revenue Playbook: It’s All About Data

As publishers plan for the year ahead, they’re grappling with how to get the most mileage from their valuable content and data and how to ride the waves of changes in our industry. To get their views on the trends shaping their corner of the market, Silverchair & Hum surveyed publishing leaders to share their predictions for 2022. Here are some of the trends they expect to have the biggest impact. 


Tim Barton, CEO of Hum & President of Silverchair

The revenue playbook for 2022 is all about data, and I’d highlight two themes:

  1. The End of Guesswork’. Any publisher can quickly both improve their current business models and also generate new revenue streams by investing in unifying the data that they are already collecting (and/or can collect) as their audience interacts with their content and by then using it to make data-driven decisions.
  2. Get Data out of the Hands of the Data Scientists! Collecting and deploying data requires a modest investment in technology (a Customer Data Platform) and integrations, but it doesn’t require data scientists: tools are now available that are not only intuitive for the non-specialist but also very powerful.

How does revenue flow when you address these two themes? Publishers with commercial ad revenues can use that data immediately to increase the value of current inventory, as well as to create new inventory. Institutional sales and OA revenues can be improved by understanding and developing the vast amounts of anonymous data flowing over publishing platforms and a publisher’s other digital properties. Marketing of every type can be transformed by improved segmentation of the deeper/integrated data set. Longer term, new products and lines of business can be built around actual reader, customer, and author interests and behaviors.

Understanding the full range of data about their audience’s engagement with its past and present content will allow publishers to develop a future content strategy based on data rather than guesswork.


Will Schweitzer, Chief Product & Customer Success Officer

Looking at the global and industry trends that I think will affect scholarly and professional publishing in the coming year, I see themes around GDPR (and privacy concerns more broadly), video (and other non-traditional content types), and MarTech opportunities. But I agree with Tim that the biggest trend centers on data. 

Basically, we all need to become web analytics experts. Many publishers are managing multiple product lines across many platforms in different web domains, and we are all increasingly focused on the end user and their needs, especially given the imperatives of Open Science and Open Access. Ultimately, that means that we're all going to have to get really familiar with tools like Google Analytics. We need to know where our data is coming from, what questions we need it to answer, and how to interpret it. All this is made simpler with the recent push to unify our cross-platform data to deliver a clear picture of content, users, and channels.

In looking at Silverchair’s aggregate platform data, some specific statistics jumped out at me. First, mobile traffic now accounts for 38% of users, and those users have a higher bounce rate than desktop users. I can remember when mobile only accounted for 5-10% of traffic, but it has steadily crept up over the years. This high percentage, in conjunction with how Google and other search engines are weighting mobile performance, makes it really important to think about mobile optimization, users’ mobile journeys, and page load speed.

In general, we are also seeing a growth of email or alert referral traffic to our publisher sites and we're seeing a steadying off or even a decline of socially referred traffic. I think this is in part because our publishers are adapting their social strategies, and of course the major platforms like Facebook or Google or LinkedIn or Twitter have tweaked their algorithms. I know when I was a publisher we often thought about social media as being a primary way of connecting with younger audiences, but that certainly isn't the case today. Particularly for our publishers trying to target today's inbound undergraduate users or for those in the higher education space, this makes it critical to rethink their digital marketing strategies.

These are just a few of the insights available from platform data; the opportunities expand exponentially when you unify that data with what you might have on other content properties, CRMs, CDPs, and more.


Hannah Heckner, Director of Product Strategy, Silverchair

The biggest trends I see in our industry revolve around connections. I think that publishers will adapt to the coming death of the third-party cookie by leaning into their brand and building on the loyalty of their readers. Third-party cookies have nothing on zero-party data, and organizations with a close connection to their readers can find out through (well-executed and conservative) experiments that their readers may be more willing than assumed to offer up additional data. 

Likewise, leveraging the connections between content and data sources: either bringing content onto one platform or linking it through savvy syndication models. Consolidated user data flowing from these setups will help to keep audiences engaged and best exploit the data gleaned from user behaviors in a manner than underlines user loyalty while building stickiness.

Finally, I wonder if the connection between pieces of content is the new 'content'-- identifying relationships between research artifacts and related research is an area of growing emphasis with publishing organizations and offers a great opportunity to showcase the impact of research, a research organization, a publisher, or their underlying technology provider. 


For Additional Insights

For more insights from these and 12 other industry leaders, download the new report from Hum & Silverchair, “The Future of Publishing Technology.” Topics include appealing to younger readers, up-and-coming technology, ways to monetize content, and much more.