The value of testing has never been greater

The value of testing has never been greater

At Supadu, we know how crucial enriched metadata, keywords and accurate BISAC codes are for enhancing title visibility and driving website sales. Through one of Iobyte Solutions' dashboards, MarketView, publishers can quantifiably measure just how instrumental good quality metadata is for book sales and generate reports for each title. Dan Lubart, founder of Iobyte Solutions, speaks to Supadu about MarketView and how this can help publishers to view their performance data and recognise the importance of keywords and accurate codes.

Dan Lubart - Iobyte Solutions

When I started at HarperCollins in 2011, I was tasked with developing a strategy to manage eBook prices that was better than the ‘set it and forget it’ model that prevailed at the time.  With the advent of Agency Pricing, we had direct control over consumer prices and with that, an opportunity to test, measure, and optimize the price to best achieve our goals with each title.  

What followed was months of changing prices, measuring the impact on unit sales and revenue, and learning how to identify and exclude outliers for all sorts of reasons so the data made sense.  Over time, the model was reliably providing revenue improvements across all categories.  We also saw that the same approach could be used to optimize metadata, cover images, and almost anything else we could directly control.

Later on, we found that bringing Page Views into the model helped provide another layer of understanding.  Changing keywords or BISAC codes might drive more traffic to the page, or better conversion on the page, or both.  Search Results ranking is another tool to determine if changes are impacting the way customers discover and decide to purchase your products.  Now we would have a way to see all of these metrics together and understand what was really happening.  

At Iobyte Solutions, we have been working with Publisher clients for years, primarily with our MarketView Sales Dashboard.  MarketView brings together all of the data that drives a Publisher’s business:  Sales; Marketing; Publicity; Inventory; and Retailer Behavior.  Clients can see everything they need to know about a title in one place, or everything they need to know about the Availability Status of every product across their catalog on any specific retailer.  

What we added this year is a game changer that will put any sized publisher on even footing with any of the largest publishers in terms of ability to create, manage and analyze the performance of groups of titles relative to any change or event.  

Consider a report that shows you 200 titles that are missing a third BISAC code or violate one of several best practices for keywords or titles.  You prepare changes that will go out in the next ONIX push.  What comes next?  You have hours or days of work involved in collecting all of the performance data, organizing it in a spreadsheet, and determining what really happened.  Or not…

In MarketView, users can create a new list, paste a list of ISBNs from a spreadsheet or other report in, and add one or more events to measure change, all in under a minute.  

With a single click, you can then see the aggregate Unit Sales, Revenue, Page Views, and Inventory position of the entire list in a single chart:

Sales can be focused on any individual channel or account (such as web orders) or over all accounts. When you want to compare performance prior to and following a single event, you just select the event and the uplift/downdraft data is immediately available:

Sometimes, you have a test with a start and end.  Perhaps a price promotion where you want to see not only how the promotion changed things, but what happened after the end of the promotion.  Did sales and traffic return to previous levels or was there a sticky change?  We have found that using Pre-, Mid- and Post- periods of the same duration, based on the number of days between the two events, provides a good view of this.  Notice how this summary shows you the uplift into the active testing period, and the impact that occurs on the list once you revert back to normal.

All of this can be done by a non-technical person in minutes.  

What effect did additional keywords have?  How about bringing BISACs up to best practice standards?  Did updated covers generate enough incremental sales to justify the cost?  How about that digital advertising campaign?  How much more impact would any of these efforts have across my entire catalog?  All of these are questions that can be answered in a quantifiable way now.

These tracking lists can be used for a number of other useful purposes, but the ability to create Test and Control groups, and aggregate performance over any number of titles instantly, puts a very powerful analytical tool in the hands of any publisher, no matter how small.  

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