Wednesday, February 15, 2012

File Under "Bleedin' Obvious": Good Data Drives Sales

Nielsen Bookdata recently released a white paper/sales sheet on metadata enhancement which presents some real data on the direct link between deep accurate metadata and increased sales and long term revenue.  Unsurprisingly, the document finishes by noting that BookData provides enhanced metadata services for a fee which, assuming publishers don't have the where with all to handle this very basic activity themselves, they would be well advised to contract with Nielsen (or someone similar).

It occurs to me that there's some circuitous illogical aspect to working with a third party data enhancement provider: If, as a publisher I don't have the means to provide this deep information in the first place, how will I be able to know that the deep metadata services provided by a third party are accurate and optimal?  Nielsen will say "increased sales" and they'd be correct based on their own analysis yet it is always going to be the author, editor and marketing person at the publisher who is best placed to define and optimize their metadata.  Contracting this function out is not only likely to be sub-optimal but might also result in a staff who's experience becomes removed from the realities of market dynamics.  This is not to suggest that the third party will do a bad job but that the benefits to the publisher in doing it themselves far out weighs the benefits both in the short term and long term.

And what are the results of better metadata?  Neilsen's report is quite specific from this sample:
White Paper: The Link Between Metadata and Sales

Looking at the top selling 100,000 titles from 2011ii we analysed the volume sales for titles where either the BIC Basic or image flag was missing, and compared these with titles where one of the flags were missing and titles where both the BIC Basic and image flags were present, indicating that the BIC Basic standard was met. Figure 1.1 shows the average sales per title for these four different sets of records.

The positive impact of supplying complete BIC Basic data and an image is clear. Records without complete BIC Basic data or an image sell on average 385 copies. Adding an image sees sales per ISBN increase to 1,416, a 268% boost. Records with complete BIC Basic data but no image have average sales under 437 copies, but when we look at records with all of the necessary data and image
requirements, average sales reach 2,205. This represents an increase of 473% in comparison to those records which have neither the complete BIC Basic data elements or an image. Figure 1.2 shows a direct comparison between all records with insufficient data to meet the BIC Basic standard, and those that meet the requirements.

the average sales across all records with incomplete BIC Basic elements are 1,113 copies per title, with the complete records seeing an 98% increase in average sales.

Titles which hold all four enhanced metadata elements sell on average over 1,000 more copies than those that don’t hold any enhanced metadata, and almost 700 more copies that those that hold three out of the four enhanced metadata elements. In percentage terms, titles with three metadata elements see an average sales boost of 18%, and those with all four data elements 55% when compared to titles with no enhanced metadata elements.
In the still early days of Amazon we were always throwing out the (anic)data point that a book with a cover image was 8x more likely to sell versus one without.  Sadly we are still discussing much the same issue.

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