Thursday, October 11, 2007

Frankfurt Supply Chain Meeting: Random House

Fionnuala Duggan spoke of RH's internet marketing efforts: "Web2.0 and the marketing mix" and 2005 to RH. She has experience in music, newspapers and publishing so offers a broad base of experience in web 2.0 applications. She introduced her discussion by commenting on how there has been a rapid increase in 'a different type of company'. She noted Myspace, facebook, ebay, photobucket and librarything. The central tenet of these social companies is that users are "choosing to interact" with them rather than having something imposed on them.

Fionnuala noted that attention and activity is now widely dispersed across the panoply of media choices. Media is vastly more fragmented than ever before and unless you as a publisher have a strategy to hit potential consumers in the locations where they are surfing then she concludes "you haven't got an internet strategy". You need to fish where the fish are and be present where the consumers are active. The object of internet marketers is to reach out into the internet and bring back the consumers to the RH site where they can interact/engage with them.

Vehicles used include email which if closely and accurately marketed can be an "extraordinarily powerful marketing tool and has been for RH." Most of traffic for RH comes from search and while a competitive market, search is a priority for RH in navigating traffic to RH. Google booksearch is also going to be an enormously important step in the growth of books. Books will now compete with all kinds of published works and the challenge for publishers is to make books relevant within the context of all other types of printed media. So, publishers need to be far more aware of the consumer experience, the content of books, the presentation of books, etc.

She reminded the audience however, that making books available is not the same as selling them and as an example she showed a music retailer named emusic. The company is a 'long tail' retailer of music content and has been able to create a strong viable content retail operation entirely through merchandising. The company has a catalog of over 2mm tracks and has "electrified and made interesting" the long tail of music retailing.

The Random House widget has been very successful for them and is an important aspect of their desire to seed social sites like Myspace and Facebook with Random House content. Other social applications she mentioned were iLike, iBook, Bebo and librarything. As book publishers they should be trying to infiltrate these sites with their content and also be prepared to engage the resulting consumers/users in social interactions.

Lastly, having an internet presence is a lot more than having a web site. It is far more than that and while important to front list, if done correctly their activities will have far more impact on the long tail of Random House titles which provides the excitement.

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