New Year, New Data

A big part of what publishers need to know about their customers is what content they are using or trying to access; and how much they are doing that. There are many reasons why you could be making it a New Year’s resolution to make the most of your usage and denials data.

Having a clear view of customer activity is vital to your business. It may be to use with external analysis tools; analyse in-house for sales and marketing activities; or just to ensure you have the same picture of usage that your library customers already have.

Usage and denials data is valuable information for a number of reasons:

  • It’s vital context for understanding the value customers get for the money they pay, and a key indicator of the health of your subscriptions, and where extra revenue could be generated.
  • Being able to see a customer’s denials to your content allows you to correctly target sales efforts. Combining this with your subscription data helps ensure you only contact the right people.
  • Knowing the value your customers get from a subscription (i.e. cost per download) can help you tailor suitable renewal messages, inform pricing decisions, and see trends in annual renewals to give you a complete understanding of user behaviour.

We’re often asked about the best approach to getting hold of suitable usage and denials data from publishing platforms, and we’re happy to share our thoughts:

  • If you’re considering changing content platforms, then you’ll know that this can be an involved process, so it’s important not to overlook the data you need to be able to retrieve about your users. Remember to include a requirement for supply-back of all of your COUNTER reports for all of your customers, perhaps batched together into a ZIP file once per month. This should be fairly simple, but it’s good to get the process agreed up-front. Standard data can then be used with a range of analysis tools.
  • Even if you are not planning on changing host, it may be worth checking what the provisions are for the supply of COUNTER reports back to you, the publisher. It’s your data after all, and it may well be available, but it’s worth checking that point with your hosting provider.
  • If you discover that getting access to your COUNTER data is proving problematic (or subject to additional charges), then you might consider checking whether your hosting provider supports SUSHI (almost all of them do). SUSHI provides an established protocol for the automated harvesting of COUNTER data (see https://www.projectcounter.org/code-of-practice-sections/sushi/ for more info).

Hopefully this provides some useful food for thought for the New Year.

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