Data is content's ally, not enemy

It's human to resist change but the world of content is better off with data analytics

It’s not going away. Ever. Riding on the back of that monkey called technology, it seems like content and its marketing have been joined by debutant, data, raising concerns in a section of the global content developers’ community. This lot is worried that the forward march of technology will eventually stifle creativity.

That possibility seems remote. Creativity is the outcome of an intangible process that can never be replicated by artificial intelligence, thanks to the complexity of the human brain. Original thought is the USP of the human mind, and that’s that.

Every technology comes with pros and cons. The way ahead then is to capitalize on the positives and work within the firewalls set by the negatives. The same, the same for data.

In the content ecosystem, data analytics is refining the user-development relation by assisting on two fronts. Cold statistics is helping creators better understand their audiences, and is also unearthing new “traffic”. Once content is created, data analytics helps to spread the word in a scientific manner.

Here’s an example. In the middle of the night, writer John Doe is hit with an idea for his next novella. He jumps out of bed, and by late afternoon next, bangs out the first draft of his murder mystery. Eventually, his publisher is happy with the final draft. In an earlier world, on publication, it would have been a “spray and pray” kind of marketing, with some basic form of audience targeting. But data analytics is taking the guesswork out of content and marketing. John Doe’s marketer can now target potential customers based on their profiles, reading habits, demography, segmentation and so on. Eventually, it will mean reaching the right profile of readers, thus increasing the chances of them buying the novella instead of putting the book in front of a random group of fiction readers.

Data analytics helps content creators and their marketers figure out the Return on Investment (RoI) on their labor of love. All of this also holds true for a wide spectrum of content developers - from fiction writers, painters, journalists, content marketers, advertisers, and so on.

To go even further, data can play a critical role in determining what and when you should create next. That’s called predictive analytics. How soon will your reader be ready for the next murder mystery? What are the chances of your readers buying a new book 6 months from today? Will the book sell well at Christmas, or after the holidays? These critical decisions can now be taken by content developers and marketers even before putting pen to paper or before putting the first stroke of the brush on canvas.

Predictive analytics can also help in a major way for on-demand content companies such as OTT services, or those selling podcasts, webinars, etc.

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So, why has data suddenly started playing such a major role in the world of content? Two reasons - technology getting cheaper ensuring its mass adoption, and its inevitable fallout, the democratization of data. Data analytics is no longer for statisticians, mathematicians, data scientists or other scientists, or the C-Suite guys only, nor is the technology exorbitantly expensive anymore. Easy-to-do data models, and even easier to understand data dashboards have made this science and tech extremely human friendly.

Data analytics must be viewed as an ally, not an enemy of the content creator. Its use in the content ecosystem must be welcomed, not resisted. Like I said at the start, it is not going away.