Can Games Do Even More Than Lead Gen and Engagment?

Let the games begin…in new areas.

According to an excellent article by Sharon Begley in the July Smithsonian Magazine, “A growing community of scientists and engineers is borrowing the elements that make video or computer games so addictive—rewards, points, leaderboards and online collaboration—to enlist thousands of players to solve legitimate scientific mysteries.”

According to the article, a game called Superbetter helps users recover from illness and injury. Foldit “asks you to determine the 3-D shape of a protein” and actually may lead to new AIDS drugs. “So there I sat at my computer one rainy Sunday,” Begley wrote, “dragging models of amino acids with my mouse and clicking commands such as ‘wiggle’ and ‘shake’ with the determination of a gamer rescuing an imaginary princess.”

This brings gamification to a new level—to be more exploratory and active for the user. Can this translate to B2B or B2C? Should you have a section of your publication or website designed to solve a problem in your industry? Should your next webinar leave the viewer with an interesting dilemma to ponder over and contribute? The important thing to remember is that it has to be fun. Begley is happily spending her Sunday at this.

So far in the B2B and B2C realm we’ve seen games used mostly for engagement and lead generation. I wrote about the successful NJ Family Contest that Cindy Mironovich runs every year. Readers nominate their favorite doctors, dentists, speech/language therapists, and many other professionals, “who work hard to keep kids healthy.” It’s good lead generation because readers have to provide their contact information in order to nominate.

Donna Jefferson’s Chesapeake Family also runs contests throughout the year—Win Big With Chesapeake Family! (Check out the online ads she attracts.) Kiplinger continues to offer its quizzes—“The Investor Psychology Quiz or Do You Agree With Knight (Kiplinger, the head of the company)? Cablefax does a quick poll. The New Yorker continues its caption contest.

That last one probably comes closest to this new level for B2C or B2B. It’s asking readers to contribute content that may be used in the magazine. If someone on our Listserv is asking for a Conference track more suited for introverts—as they did last week—should we then convert that into a game to design the perfect such track? (In fact, the Listserv, when going well, does function somewhat in that manner already.)

“[Games are] something we’ve grown up with,” Joel Rothstein, VP, technology, strategy and innovation, Global Information Resources, for Marriott International, told us in Las Vegas last year. “We remember when we played video games in arcades when we were young, and had your initials next to the high score for whatever game of PACman or Asteroids. Now, we want those same points for being experts in our field—to make sure people know who we are and that our opinions matter. We want to build our online reputations and further our professional endeavors.”

Rothstein said it was Chairman J.W. Marriott, Jr. himself, who came up with the very first game on the Marriott website. It was called Dream Tracker and allowed users to create the vacation they wanted. It also accomplished what today’s gamification has mostly strived for: it kept people coming back to the site, engaged them, tracked what they were doing, and got families/communities involved.

Now games may get them more involved. Begley concludes: “It’s this tinkering approach, this trial and error, that is the basis of play. Beginning when we could hold a rattle, we all learned to solve problems by playing with them. Only now we can all play and contribute to science, too.” Or fill in your own blank.

To subscribe to the SIPAlert Daily, go to the SIIA website.

Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

What Channel-Specific Content Means for You

I saved a Dilbert strip from May 18. Dilbert begins by telling his female colleague: “You never answered my IM.” She responds: “You should have emailed me.”

“I did. You didn’t answer my email.”
“If it was so important you should texted me.”

They next get to phones and finally he says, “So here I am [in person].”
“It’s premature to get your hopes up.”

I thought about that when reading Real Magnet’s recent post (on their thought-leading blog Real Insights) titled The Rise of Channel-Specific Content. Every person has their favorite way of communicating these days. I may reach my nephew by texting, my best friend by email, a former work colleague on LinkedIn, an overseas friend on WhatsApp, and a sports buddy by tweeting. And does anyone talk on the phone for anything but a conference call these days? (Half that time you’re on mute.)

The idea of channel-specific content is that you are tailoring your content to fit that medium. No longer can we be satisfied to put the same message on all these different mediums—you’ll lose people. Writes Real Magnet: “Today, channel-specific content is a sound marketing practice as it shows respect for the way your audience uses the inbox, Facebook, Twitter and other channels.”

They offer three steps for adjusting to channel-specific content:

1. Understand and describe each channel. Tell your audience what they will be getting on each channel—limit the surprises. “…you may use your email list for a weekly newsletter, Twitter for customer service, and Facebook for promotions. Promoting them as such is a form of targeting, as your audience is signing up for the specific content you are providing in each. It also helps build anticipation.”

2. Use your email analytics to find the best-performing content. You’ve been measuring your open rates and click-thrus for a while now. You can do the same with your social media with engagement, retweets, likes and conversions.

3. Develop key metrics on channel engagement, not just message effectiveness. “…marketers are going to need to focus on optimizing each channel instead of each message. Develop and track a set of key metrics for each message that measures how much engagement you are driving in aggregate across the channel. For example, you might track ‘Likes per Post’ on Facebook, or ‘Mentions/RTs per Follower per Month’ on Twitter.”

Ryan Holmes, CEO of hootsuite, which automates your messages for different channels, wrote in a blog post: “Social media ushered in a new era of intimate, personalized marketing. Not surprisingly, consumers have grown less receptive to traditional ‘spray and pray’ mass marketing approaches. (Case in point: When 61,000 people were surveyed earlier this year by Forrester, fewer than a quarter said they trust email from companies.)

“To this end, the latest generation of marketing automation software is finding creative ways to bridge the gap: applying the intimacy, personalization and insights gained from social media on a mass scale…Companies that find ways to integrate social media and marketing automation effectively will be able to reach more customers and strengthen ties with existing ones in the years ahead. Companies that fail to do so risk being left behind as ‘mass’ marketing takes its place on history’s scrap heap.”

The question becomes can we be everywhere our audience is or will we have to choose the channels we do best? The quick answer would be yes, we have to try to be everywhere. Real Magnet isn’t so sure: “…marketers will begin limiting messages to the channels in which they work best, in order to make sure that every message contributes meaningfully to its channel’s engagement.”

Stay tuned.

To subscribe to the SIPAlert Daily, go to the SIIA website.

Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

Promotion – Self and Otherwise – Must Accompany Good Content

Back in May, I discovered that The New York Times in-house report on their digital prowess—or more their lack thereof—had been leaked. When I quickly read the 96-page report, I salivated at the frank analysis and actionable responses it contained. The size of the entity did not matter; the examples and advice resonated for all publishers.

Of course, I wrote about it, once in May in an unusually long piece for this space, and then once in June. So I was a bit surprised to see last week on the SIPA Listserv a post about the new discovery of the Times report and that SIPA publishers should take notice.

It got me thinking. Just writing a good story is not enough these days. There is so much noise to get through that unless you shout, tweet, friend, circle, link, and more, people may not notice. And then I recalled Chapter 2 of the Times report, titled, you guessed it, Promotion.

It begins: “At The Times, we generally like to let our work speak for itself. We’re not ones to brag. Our competitors have no such qualms, and many are doing a better job of getting their journalism in front of new readers through aggressive story promotion. They regard this as a core function of reporters and editors, and they react with amazement that the same is not true here.”

Here are 7 pieces of promotional advice that the Times report offers to publishers (and me):

1. Most successful publishers believe that journalists should be their own promoters and encouraged to engage on social media. For example, Dan Colarusso, executive editor of Reuters Digital, said, “All web editors engage on social and are also tasked with identifying related communities and seeding their content.” Some places make it a bit of a competition. I can see that—when our Web guy releases analytics here, I’m anxious to see how I rank and it makes me want to do better.

2 “Create an ‘impact tool-box’ and train an editor on each desk to use it. The toolbox would provide strategy, tactics and templates for increasing the reach of an article before and after it’s published. Over time, the editor could teach others.” The report said that these skills can be taught; ironically, the Times reporters who do it best learned from their book publishers.

3 Your promotion effort needs a leader, data and tools at their disposal. The Times experimented with a cross-departmental team to try to promote the magazine and failed without these things.

4. Whoever is handling social media for you needs to be integrated with your content creators. Having a data expert in there as well would help. “When we figured out the Facebook algorithm and that Facebook mattered more than Twitter, traffic exploded,” said Jacob Weisberg of Slate.

5. Discussions should take place before a story is published. At The Huffington Post, a story cannot be published without a photo, a search headline, a tweet and a Facebook post. Said one top Times editor: “I don’t feel like we sit down when we have a big project, a big story, and say, ‘How do we roll this out?’” Said another: “It would require an entirely different way of thinking. It would be about saying, ‘This is what is running on Sunday.’”

6. Focus more attention on the behind-the-scenes process of optimization. The Times simply added structured data, for example, and it immediately increased traffic to their food recipes from search engines by 52%.

7. Use social more for audience development than as a reporting tool. The Times found that most competitors use social as a hotbed of experimentation because platforms and user behavior change so quickly.

To subscribe to the SIPAlert Daily, go to the SIIA website.

Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

Information Industry Network – Summer Drinks Reception for B2B Information, Media and Publishing Professionals – London

The great thing about the B2B content industry is that the market dynamics is ever-changing – whether it is the development of new business model, the continual proliferation of free content, consolidation and convergence – where players become more multi-faceted, delivering outputs on multiple platforms.IIN AUG DRINKS

In addition, organisations are grappling with the challenges of how to engage better with their customers and prospects, and are chewing over issues such as what content delivery systems should be used, how to use data better for decision-making and much more.

With such a rapidly changing environment, the need to share experiences with others is always welcomed. One of the best ways to share and connect with each other is to do so with a cool refreshing, ‘relaxing’ drink or two.  The Information Industry Network is, therefore, hosting a Summer Drinks Reception on Thursday, 21st August, to facilitate B2B information, media and publishingEXCHANGE professionals in catching up with industry friends, colleagues  and acquaintances, and to strike up new business relationships – all in a delightful venue – The Minster  Exchange.   The evening will also give us a chance to inform attendees of what the Information Industry  Network (IIN) is all  about.

We open the doors to the evening’s activities at 6pm and will go on till late (Minster Exchange closes at  midnight), with the opening welcome talk and introduction scheduled for 6.20pm. Light snacks will be  provided, and guests will be given vouchers for a set number of complementary drinks.

The Minster Exchange is ideally situated in the centre of London, near Fenchurch Street, with closest underground stations being Monument or Tower Hill, and nearest overground railway station being London Fenchurch Street. For venue details click HERE

The IIN Summer Drinks Reception is for professionals working within B2B information, media or publishing organisations (entry is free for those who meet the criteria). If you are a supplier to the industry (and not a member of SIIA – which incorporates IIN, SIPA and ABM), then there is a charge of £100.00 (+ vat) to attend.

Attendance is by registration-only.  To receive registration details, please email either:IIN Logo

Patrick Angell, Executive Director, Information Industry Network: , or

Naomi Hoad, Event Coordinator, Information Industry Network:


Event Details:

Information Industry Network – Summer Drinks Reception


Thursday, 21st August, 2014 


Minster Exchange, Minster Court, Mincing Lane, EC3R 7PP

The venue is ideally situated in the centre of London, near Fenchurch Street, with closest underground stations being Monument or Tower Hill; and nearest national rail station being London Fenchurch Street.


6pm – late (opening welcome and introductions – 6.20pm)


  • Professionals from B2B information, media and publishing organisations  - FREE
  • Vendors/suppliers who are SIIA, IIN, SIPA, ABM members – FREE
  • Vendors/suppliers who are not members of SIIA, IIN, SIPA, ABM – £100.00 (+vat) per person

Dress Code:



Patrick AngellPatrick Angell is the Executive Director of the Information Industry Network. SIIA’s European division for  publishing, information and media organisations across Europe. The Information Industry Network aims to assist  members understand current issues facing them via conferences, seminars, and online events, we also assist in  helping them share experiences, build business relationships and connect with others across Europe and cross- Atlantic. Follow us on @iin_europe and visit our LinkedIn group



‘Test, Analyze Your Data and Constantly Evolve’

“Testing is fundamental to what we do,” Carola York, managing director of Jellyfish Publishing, told me a couple weeks ago. “Our mantra is test, analyse and refine. [We] test every single kind of thing—different landing pages, copy on buttons, color on call to action. Every single thing we do. We got them [to our site]; we want them to stay there.”

Doesn’t it take time to test, I asked. “That’s what we get paid for,” York responded.

On Monday it was reported that an A/B testing company in the United States called Leanplum Inc. received an investment of $4.8 million from Shasta Ventures. So York is right; testing has become big business. Leanplum has a “team loaded mostly with engineers” and much of this money will go towards marketing.

But I think that just underlines testing’s value. It still can and should be done on a smaller level, but—and this is a big but—testing does require pre-thought and follow-through to be most effective. Here are two recent examples.

At the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, Hildegunn Soldal, digital editor at their DB Medialab, said constant innovation is key. She espouses three core elements: quality content, monetizing that content, and development and design. Quoted in the World News Publishing Focus, she said, “…we have to know where we are going in this mobile world if we really want to succeed. The days of launching a product, letting it just sit there and then moving on to another product are over. Everything needs to be evaluated, developed and refined …constantly.”

Last spring, they fretted when their own mobile traffic stagnated. The staff looked at the situation to decide how to test to see what the problem was. “They changed the mobile home page design a number of times, testing it with traffic figures. Nothing changed. Then they gave the home page the same design as its tablet counterpart. That actually caused a drop in traffic,” the article reported.

“We thought, ‘OK, we have reached a peak here, this is good as it gets,’” she said. Turns out it was the download time of the mobile home page with that tablet design that took too long to load. “So they focused on the speed issue, simplified the design, and traffic jumped significantly.”

“You have to test, test, test, analyze your data and constantly evolve and innovate your offer, especially on mobile,” Soldal said.

Here’s an example that you can get something wrong in testing and still get it right. Jake Peterson from, writing on the KISSmetrics site, told how they “created two variations of the signup button text. The control version read ‘Get Started,’ and the variation [they used] was ‘Create Free Account.’”

Create Free Account beat Get Started with a 21% increase in conversions. But then they went further into analytics to reveal that “the visitors who clicked Create Free Account were less likely to complete the signup form. Furthermore, the Create Free Account clickers were also less likely to sign up for any paid plan. While the Get Started people were “much more likely to sign up for paid accounts.”

This goes along with advice I’ve heard from people recently—know before you start out what you’re testing for. If the key metric is people buying, then that’s how you set it up. Or as Peterson writes, “Be especially wary of optimizing for a single click or action. Remember, a single click usually does not provide direct value to your business. Long-term gains are always more important than short-term conversion wins.”

At the end, he emphasizes that you must monitor closely the effect of each test variation all the way through and come back to it in a few months to see where the users have proceeded to.

Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

Top Execs from Google, Penton & Randall-Reilly to Keynote Conference on Integration of Information and Media Industries – November 10-12 in Miami

BIMS BannerSIIA today announced that top digital content and B2B media executives from Google, Penton, Bloomberg and other industry-leading companies will speak at the Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS).  This new conference will focus on the continuing transformation of the information and media industries. BIMS will take place November 10-12 in Miami, Fla., and will address the four markets that are dramatically impacting the B2B media landscape: big data, marketing, digital media and advertising.

As the lines which once separated big data, marketing, digital media and advertising fade away, the Business Information & Media Summit will gather industry leaders to address challenges and opportunities in an increasingly integrated marketplace. Reflecting this, the conference will feature keynotes from:

Arundel_PatriciaUsing her expertise developing strategies that enable Fortune 500 companies to innovate across mobility, productivity and social computing, Arundel will discuss “How to Gain Competitive Advantage in the Digital Age.” As high-tech enterprises max out the value of globalization and low-cost outsourced labor, her presentation will identify new ways to achieve competitive advantage in consumer and business markets.

Kieselstein_DavidKieselstein’s keynote will draw on his experience leading the largest privately held business information services company in North America.  Kieselstein has driven a rapid transformation of Penton and with it a rapid increase in revenues and profitability by executing on a three-pronged strategy driving innovation and growth.

As president of Randall-Reilly, Reilly has made several strategic changes to help the firm complete its transformation into a top marketing services company which provides insights into specific market segments and then engages those audiences through targeted platforms. Reilly’s industry experience reflects the diversity of the Business & Information Media Summit, as he formerly served as vice president of marketing for the company and general manager of operations for Randall-Reilly’s Events.

These keynote speakers will join a roster of other senior executives who will speak at the Business Information & Media Summit:

  • Robert Passarella Business Manager for Event Driven News Feeds, Bloomberg L.P.
  • Keith White Executive Vice President & Managing Director, CQ-Roll Call Group
  • John Nicodemo Global Leader of Worldwide Data & Predictive Insights, Dun & Bradstreet (D&B)
  • Mark Howard Chief Revenue Officer, Forbes
  • Guy Cecala Chief Executive Officer, Inside Mortgage Finance
  • Wilma Jordan Founder & Chief Executive Officer, The Jordan, Edmiston Group, Inc. (JEGI)
  • Bruce Brownson Founder & Chief Executive Officer, KnowWho
  • Josh Green Chief Executive Officer, Panjiva
  • Richard Belanger Chief Information Officer, ProQuest
  • Jay Hallberg Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, Spiceworks
  • Kreg Peeler Founder & Chief Executive Officer, SpinGo
  • Adam Singolda Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Taboola

BIMS combines three former conferences – the Specialized Information Publishers Association’s Marketing Conference, the American Business Media’s Executive Forum, and InfoCommerce Group’s DataContent Conference – into one comprehensive event that examines the trends of the changing B2B media industry.

WHO:           The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA)

WHAT:         SIIA’s Business Information & Media Summit 2014 #BIMS14

WHEN:         November 10-12, 2014

WHERE:       The Fontainebleau, Miami, FL

For a complete schedule of events, visit: Updates in advance of the event are available using the conference’s Twitter hashtag: #BIMS14.

Intellectual Property Roundup

Congress Oks Bill to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking (PC Mag)
Congress approved the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, a bill that, if signed by President Obama, would reverse the Library of Congress’s decision two years ago that made cell phone unlocking illegal.

DOJ to Congress: Make Online Streaming a Felony (The Hill)
The Department of Justice is pushing Congress to increase the penalties for streaming copyright-infringing content online, so that online streaming of pirated content should receive the same consequences as illegal downloading.

House Returns to Patents (The HIll)
The House Judiciary subcommittee on intellectual property will hold a hearing this week on the state of the Patent and Trademark Office. The hearing comes after a concerted push from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte to reform the country’s patent system.

Infringement To Go: Pirate Bay Goes Mobile (Ars Technica)
The Pirate Bay has now debuted a new mobile service at, which will eventually have such features as personal RSS feeds so users can browse torrents on the go, and start the downloads at home.

UK Police Start Replacing Ads on Copyright Infringement Sites With Warnings(GigaOM)
Under a UK police initiative called Operation Creative, the police will now start replacing ads on copyright-infringing websites with official police banners that warn users that hte site is under investigation.

Keith Kupferschmid is General Counsel and SVP, Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement at SIIA. Follow Keith on Twitter at @keithkup and sign up for the Intellectual Property Roundup weekly newsletter here.

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