Member Profile: Carola York, Managing Director, Jellyfish Publishing, Reigate, Surrey, UK

IIN: How is your structure set up?
We have three main business units—Jellyfish UK and Jellyfish US, plus Jellyfish Publishing which works specifically with publishers. We took on our first publishing client in 2002 and now work with a range of consumer and B2B publishers in the UK, US, Australia and South Africa, running both domestic and international campaigns for them. Across the business we have more than 180 staff in four offices: Reigate and Brighton in the UK, Baltimore in the US, and Durban in South Africa.

What kind of work does Jellyfish Publishing do?
Jellyfish Publishing is a digital marketing agency which primarily works with publishers to acquire qualified leads and paid subscriptions using a variety of digital channels. We create a dedicated microsite for each brand we work with, and then drive traffic to the site using a wide range of marketing channels—PPC search, display, email, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube etc. There are other digital marketing agencies out there, but it’s our specific publishing knowledge and expertise that sets us apart. And we offer a full digital marketing service covering SEO, social, creative (including video) and development as well as PPC search and digital display advertising, all of which supports our lead and subscription generation offering.

Why do you create microsites?
Typically, if you go to a publisher’s own website, you’ll see banner ads, free editorial content, promotions for events/awards etc., all of which can distract a prospective customer from the reason they might have initially landed on the site—ordering a subscription. So using a dedicated environment, with every page on the microsite focused on selling a subscription or encouraging the visitor to sign up as a lead, we get higher conversion rates—which generates both a higher volume and a better ROI for our clients.

How do you optimize your digital marketing campaigns?
We write new content and create specific landing pages for specific keywords. For example, for a boating publication, if we spot that there are a lot of searches around keywords such as “boat design” and “latest innovations in boat design”, we will create a landing page featuring specific content all around boat design and also explain how the publication covers this in its regular content. So we offer quite a bit of free “editorial”, but it’s designed as a teaser to encourage sign up.

And you mentioned that testing is big at Jellyfish.
Testing is fundamental to what we do. Our mantra is test, analyze and refine. We test every element involved in a campaign—different keywords, different landing pages, wording on the call to actions, colors on buttons etc. Once we have attracted a potential customer [to a site], we want them to stay and then sign up. And we’ve learnt that beautiful doesn’t always work. A designer might say that the creative needs a full overhaul, but in reality, the existing creative can work better, with just a minor tweak. What’s key is to split test and look at the results. The numbers ultimately tell.

Doesn’t it take time to do that much testing?
That’s what we get paid for. We monitor all the key statistics every single day. The closer and better you manage a campaign, the more you get out of it.

What are some reactions?
That acquisition cost is too high. How do we bring it down? Or that was a fantastic response—what can we do elsewhere like that? We’re constantly looking at how we can optimize campaigns to get the best results.

I see that you do some blogging.
We try to do a few a month, and it’s the members of our team who are hands-on running the digital campaigns who write the blogs. We don’t have a dedicated person blogging. But unless we have something worthwhile to share—new initiatives from Google, a new area we’ve tested and want to let publishers know about—we don’t blog for the sake of it. We’re not a publisher but an agency wanting to share best practices, good ideas, case studies and things we’ve tested.

How do you view the Information Industry Network?
It’s been good so far. It’s trying to be different. SIPA has some history here, but we’re in the early days of create the brand, understand what it is we’re trying to do, and how we can help and support publishers. The emphasis is on learning, connecting and sharing.

8 Lessons Learned from Profitable Free to Paid Model

“We recently had a nice training with journalists and an SEO instructor,” Helmut Graf, CEO of VNR Business Media, in Bonn, Germany, recalled at the end of the recent session he presented at SIPA 2014, Free to Paid and Everything In Between. (The audio with slides is available to members.)

“During the lunch break, a young journalist approached me and said, ‘Helmut, SEO means just good writing?’” Graf’s voice went up an octave or two in excitement. “I said yes, he got it. A good article doesn’t need any SEO—well, probably some adjustment [is needed…] and you have to add some keywords.”

Graf appeared with his colleague, Nam Kha Pham, to talk about their very successful free content site As Graf tells the story, they needed to find new customers for VNR’s 200-newsletter business and were impressed by what was doing, even visiting them in New York. They wondered if something similar could be done in the German market.

It could and about 5 years later they have 54,000 content pages and 500 experts writing across 200 topics (B2B and B2C). That brought in more than 3 million unique visitors last year, 36,000 top 10 rankings in Google search and $2.3 million for VNR—67% of that internally through conversions to paid subscriptions and 33% through external sources—banner ads and the like.

Here are 8 lessons learned:

1. Build it right and they will come. From the beginning, the focus was on strong content in areas VNR represents. The subscribers and online ads (and Google Ad Sense euros) followed. “We were surprised when the German market discovered us,” Graf said. “That was not our [original] intention. We just wanted to create content linked to products and product areas we are interested in.”

2. If you can do it cheaply… They are able to pay writers just $28 an article. “They write for reputation,” Graf said. “They get traffic back to their website” and full search optimization of their 500 words. “These are a new style of authors. They understand that by becoming an author they can create a face for that subject. A lawyer may discover that [through this and] social marketing he becomes a known specialist in labor law—or an insurance person who may [specialize in] liability for small programmers. That can be a huge field.”

3. Focus on areas where you are strong in. Nam said that in the health market he lets the writers write what they want, but in technology and financial, he is more likely to give them keywords to focus on.

4. Use exit floaters. “As they’re leaving the site [after getting free information], people want to say thank you,” Graf said. “I’m always surprised when I’m [on other websites], there isn’t an exit floater, and they don’t ask for your email. You lose 1/3 of subscribers that way. In direct marketing, you have to follow small little details. We learned this from a previous SIPA session.” Pham also said that his Facebook fans went from 2,500 to 7,000.

5. Cleanse your lists. “We have a policy if someone doesn’t open an email in 30 days, we eliminate [him or her] from our list,” Graf said. “It’s an ongoing process. We don’t delete those names but take them off our active list so our open rates aren’t influenced by old names. You have to know the cleaning process.”

6. Be aggressive early. With new free subscribers, they had two choices: put them on a special welcome list or just on the regular subscriber list. Graf said that after getting advice from Agora, they put them on the welcome list. He calls it a trigger process. “That list is specifically designed to convert this hot name into [a paid] order. Within the first 30 days, we make 50-60% of our revenues. After a couple months they get tired. It’s important to be very aggressive at the beginning.”

7. Do external sales. Graf said that even Amazon told them that they were crazy not to do more for external revenue. Now the 30-40% external revenues allow them to invest more in new technologies. Needless to say, they are much more aggressive in reaching out.

8. A penny saved… sent about 200 million emails last year, earning an average of a penny from each email. Graf salivates at the prospects of doubling that—“double a penny means a huge impact.” To do that, he knows he will have to increase traffic even more to at least 4 million unique visitors. He will also try to save on emails sent. They can save $20,000 by going from .004 cents to .003 cents for every email sent.

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.

Intellectual Property Roundup

IP News

U.S.Court Grants Order to Wipe Pirate Sites from the Internet (Torrent Freak)
A U.S. federal court in Oregon has granted a broad injunction against several streaming sites that offer pirated content. Among other things, the copyright holder may order hosting companies to shut down the sites’ servers, ask registrars to take away domain names, and have all search results removed from Google and other search engines.

Oracle Bests Rimini Street in Latest Lawsuit Ruling (ZDNet)
A federal judge has backed Oracle’s position against third-party support vendor Rimini Street in rulings over defamation claims and copyright theft.

FTC Proposed Patent Troll Study Gets Go-Ahead From OMB (Mobile Payments Today)
The Federal Trade Commission received approval from the Office of Management and Budget for its proposed study on patent assertion entities, or “patent trolls.” The purpose of the proposed survey is “…to examine cutting-edge competition and consumer protection topics that may have a significant effect on the U.S. economy.”

Anti-Piracy Outfit Wants to Hijack Browsers Until Fine Paid (Torrent Freak)
Rightscorp revealed its new plan to fight and monetize piracy – by continuing to work with ISPs to block web access in order to compel infringers to pay the fine.

Analysis: Monkey in the Middle of Selfie Copyright Dispute (Intellectual Property Watch)
The recent case of a monkey selfie that went viral on the web raised thorny issues of ownership between a photographer and Wikimedia. In this article, two attorneys sort out the relevant copyright law.

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.

Using Crowdsourcing and Focus Groups to Gauge Audience

Should niche publishers be using more crowdsourcing and focus groups? In the UK, HarperCollins’ Authonomy site has more than 100,000 registered users and more than 15,000 manuscripts uploaded to be evaluated. Each month, HarperCollins editors read the five that have received the highest marks. But, according to Alexandra Alter’s recent New York Times article, only 15 of the novels have been published.

“We know there are some best sellers in there,” said Rachel Faulkner, a HarperCollins editor. “We just need to stir the pot a bit and get the best ones to rise to the top.”

In the U.S., two sites are building a good argument for letting groups or “crowds” have their say. Swoon Reads, a new young-adult imprint of Macmillan Publishing, uses crowdsourcing to select the titles they publish. “The fans and the readers are more in touch with what can sell,” said Jean Feiwel, senior VP of the Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, who developed the idea in 2012. “They’re more at the pulse of these things than any of us can be.”

The Swoon Reads site has 10,000 registered users. Those users rate the novels from 1 to 5 hearts and vote on audiobook narrators (after hearing clips), book covers and the cities the authors will visit. On the site now there’s a book titled 5:48 by Chloe Cheng that has received 62 comments and five hearts. Then there’s the Swoonworthy choices that you can preorder—it even gives you the “Manuscript Status” like “In copyediting.”

The head of that Macmillan publishing group calls this “X Factor or American Idol meets publishing.” Sandy Hall, the featured author in the article, said, “Having it tested online, you can really tailor it to what people want to read. It gives you a little more confidence.” Alter also points out that the well-known author Walter Isaacson has posted a chapter from his new book The Innovators on the website Medium to get readers’ reactions.

Of course, testing is already a huge part of the B2B equation, but that’s impersonal. And many of us tend to sit back and wait for the analytics. I wrote about the Google News Publisher Center last week and was happy to see many hits on that link. But is that the best way to find out what members are interested in?

The second article came from my Rutgers Alumni Magazine and focused on Kevin Goetz, CEO of Screen Engine, an entertainment market-research firm that’s a leader in conducting test screenings. According to Allan Hoffman’s article, hundreds of movies a year are screened by Goetz in their early form before test audiences—and then 20 people stick around for a focus group. He then meets with the producer or director—might be a James Cameron (Titanic), Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) or Ron Howard—to deliver the verdict.

“People have worked years on this movie, and in one evening an audience response can just speak the truth,” Goetz said. “…I have to act not only as a researcher, but also, in many ways, more like a friend, consigliere, confessor, priest, and doctor. I have to give a diagnosis and prognosis.”

Obviously, these are entertainment entities, so focus groups are more than happy to partake. But with more niche publishers conducting live events, I wonder if they should be trying to get key audience members together for a chat session. What could you be doing more of to get in their everyday workflow? What’s their biggest need? How do they interact with your information and events?

Goetz gives his clients a 40-page report within 24 hours of a screening. Immediacy is so coveted these days. “I try to guide the filmmaker to arrive at the right answer,” he said. We talk so much about engagement—usage reports are becoming more standard—but that’s more responding to what we do. In these instances, the idea is to go to the audience first and then shape the product to their wishes.

Are we willing to cede that control? Let’s see—Goetz recently made a six-figure gift to Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts. He has been successful because the films he screens have turned out successful.

If you have tried focus groups, please let me know at

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.

Big Data–An Orwellian dystopia or a Jetsonian utopia?

 Big data is a term often met with one of two emotions, great suspicion or hyperbolic optimism. Neither sentiment encompasses the reality of what big data has to offer. Few other topics are debated with such frequency both within and outside of the beltway. Numerous policy luncheons are convened with panelists ranging from devout data analytics worshipers to data atheists. As Stephen Pratt of Wired put it:

“We are at a crossroads in the fundamental role and use of these data. Are we creating an Orwellian dystopia or a Jetsonian utopia?”

This is the central question. What is the nature of big data? Privacy advocates, some policymakers, parents and others are of the Orwellian persuasion.  To this group the word ‘data’ sparks fears of privacy invasion, heightened government control, commercial manipulation, and discrimination.

Even the White House has participated in the discussion with the President tasking the Administration with a 90-day review that culminated in the report “Big Data: Seizing Opportunities Preserving Values.” What they found is that virtually all companies are good actors and of the numerous harms listed all but two were hypotheticals. The Center for Data Innovation’s Daniel Castro and Travis Korte have a good analysis of the harms in their article “A Catalog of Every ‘Harm’ in the White House Big Data Report.”

In the Jetsonian camp, are people like Chris Anderson who exaggerates the power of data in his 2008 article, “The End of Theory: the Data Deluge makes the Scientific Method Obsolete.” Anderson makes the claim that with the advent of big data and the systems for processing it, there is no need to search for causal relationships between two correlated variables; “correlation is enough.”

The problem with Anderson’s position is that the outcomes are half-baked. It is true that big data, via statistical algorithms, illuminates millions of patterns that would be impossible to identify otherwise. And while finding those patterns or correlations is important, your stats teacher was right; correlation does not equal causation. Take for example this BuzzFeed post “The 10 Most Bizarre Correlations.” One of the less colorful relationships BuzzFeed found, although no less absurd, is the link between the decline in market share for Internet Explorer and the drop in the national murder rate. In Anderson’s world there is no room to consider the validity of found correlations because there is no need to actually understand what is going on behind statistically significant relationships.

Clearly, big data has not antiquated the scientific theory, in many ways it reinforces its necessity. We need careful analysis through understanding of the specific facts in a scientific field and construction of tested and validated models to sift through the millions of spurious correlations. The Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank illustrates why in a blog post titled, “Big Data: The end of theory in healthcare?”

In reality, as with most debates, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, between Orwell and Jetson.

Data-driven innovation has the ability to capture, comingle, store, verify and analyze relevant data, and then integrate the results into established processes to derive innovative practical outcomes. But the power of big data lies not in the accumulated data points themselves. Data itself is nothing but a collection of information. Rather, the power of data-driven innovation lies in our hands. To truly utilize large quantities of data two things are absolutely necessary:

      1. An adequate system for integrating, managing and analyzing the data.
      2. A data scientist with expertise in the field of what, within the data, is being studied, to ask the right questions and interpret results.

Data analytics has the power to reveal what works, what is missing and what can be done better in a way that would not be possible otherwise. Big data in and of itself, is not the solution to all of our problems. Data analytics is a tool that must be wielded by people and when leveraged appropriately there is much good that can be accomplished.

To learn more about the societal and economic benefits of data visit SIIA’s Data-Driven Innovation page and check out our white paper on DDI.

Sabrina Eyob is the Public Policy Coordinator at SIIA. Follow the Policy team on Twitter @SIIAPolicy.

Tips on 4 Key Subjects to Be Covered at BIMS Conference

SIIA’s Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) takes place Nov. 10-12 at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. It will feature 4 tracks—Data Content, Marketing (Tactics and Sales), Media Sales, and Strategy. If you have loved SIPA’s Marketing Conference, you will only have more to love here.

Here are tips on 4 key topics that will be covered:

1. “Recruit, select, train, manage, motivate.” Those are the 5 steps that Bobby Edgil, director of sales for BLR, goes through to add new sales reps. Which of the five is the toughest, he was asked. “Select is the hardest thing,” he said.

“I just want you to be the rep that I interviewed,” Edgil tells them. He doesn’t like candidates just out of college, preferring them 3-4 years out after they’ve “skinned their knees.” He loves school teachers as sales prospects—“they’re always bright, have worked their tails off for not a lot of money and are very process-oriented.” One of his best sales managers was an English educator for 22 years before taking the job.

Edgil spoke of the 3-foot rule for coming into contact with good possible candidates. Who are you coming into close contact with during the course of the day? Your minister, your hairdresser? He also strongly encouraged you to get the best people possible around you. He compared it to the role of a football coach where the best usually have the best assistants.

Edgil will lead the session Hiring the Best Sales People, 4:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 10.

2. “You may be hindering your message by blasting it across a variety of mediums rather than using particular social media avenues.” That comes from Jason Brueckner’s post on the SiteLogic marketing blog. He wants you to ask 4 questions about your use of social media:

a. Am I looking at the big picture?
b. Am I considering what goal(s) I have? “Remember that social media is not the end in and of itself but is a means to accomplish your goal.”
c. Am I surveying the facts of my traffic?
d. Am I able to say no to social media platforms?

Matt Bailey, founder and president of SiteLogic and a favorite speaker in the past, will present both the Social Media Boot Camp, 10 a.m., Monday, Nov. 10, and a session on Online Testing, 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 11.

3. “One of the best rules of thumb for creating an effective landing page is keep it simple.” This comes from the excellent and active blog of Randall-Reilly, a publisher in the construction and trucking business. That recent post gave 3 Laws for Building Effective Landing Pages:

a. Get rid of the clutter. There is such a thing as information overload. The term refers to the difficulty people can have making decisions when there is too much information.
b. Create a clear call-to-action. You need them to take some kind of action (whether that be download, purchase, contact, etc.) and that means you need to tell them to take the action.

c. Think like the customer. People buy from other people; therefore, you should write like a human to humans.

Brent Reilly, president of Randall-Reilly, will present a keynote, Radically Transforming an Organization: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, 8:40 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 11. A session titled Design and Optimize Your Landing Pages will take place 10 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 12.

4. “Information companies are extending more deeply into their customer bases, offering solutions rather than standalone products and services,” writes Denzil Rankine, executive chairman of AMR International. In a blog post, he offers 3 components for creating enterprise value:

a. Enterprise value continues to be driven by proprietary data, and embedding within customer workflow; businesses which support high value decision-making are well placed;
b. Information businesses that can provide solutions as opposed to simple products or services will also enhance value;
c. Management should carefully plan technology investments to differentiate their business and drive value.

Rankine will moderate the session, Valuations and Your Company, 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 11.

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.

Writing the Best Online Headlines, from Successful Publishers

“Your readers are your publishers—they are the people who decide which of your articles or lists or quizzes or infographics to share with their friends.”
—BuzzFeed editorial director Jack Shepherd

A new conservative site called Independent Journal Review has enjoyed huge early success, and their focus has been on headlines—according to a very good article by Rob Tornoe on the Editor & Publisher site (where the above quote is from as well).

Online headlines are becoming quite the science, and it’s hard to argue with some of these lead “scientists.” “We try and walk the fine line between setting up the story enough to be interesting, but not enough to give it all away,” said Bert “Bubba” Atkinson, IJR’s editor-in-chief. “We really approach headlines like we’re sitting at a bar and telling stories to one another.”

Atkinson said that the key to writing good headlines is “understanding your audience well enough to artfully create headlines they know they can trust. ‘We don’t want to screw the audience by dishing out clickbait solely to create traffic,’ he said. ‘We have our audience in mind from the start of the process, and craft the headlines to inspire sharing about a topic (politics) that really doesn’t lend itself to sharing.’”

Tornoe lists these 5 tips for online editors:

1. Build curiosity – “when we notice a gap between what we know and what we want to know, we go looking for that missing piece of information.”
2. Use “you” and “your.”
3. Use negative superlatives. “Just don’t become the Debbie Downer of your coverage area.”
4. Humanize your voice.
5. Showcase emotion.

You definitely see those tips being used on Upworthy, one of the huge, Buzzfeed-like success stories in the industry. Roy Peter Clark, the esteemed writing teacher at, spent time on Upworthy and came up with 8 “recurring moves and strategies” they use in headlines. The headlines that follow are ones I found there today:

1. “Be outraged by injustice.” These Side-By-Side Photos Show Exactly What Media Bias Looks Like With One Stunning Question
2. “Be amazed or inspired.” A Sea Turtle Is Rescued By a Diver, Then Says ‘Thank You’
3. “Build an engine…a fundamental motif that energizes a narrative.” How We Are Fooling Ourselves Into Eating ‘All Natural’ Foods
4. “Use numbers to suggest the reader is getting a lot of stuff in a little time.” 6 Lines of Truth That Could Be The Difference Between Power And Shame For The Women In Your Life (notice the “Your”)
5. “Don’t be afraid of classic attractors: sex, celebrity, miracle cures.” Of course, this one is huge for them. For niche publishers, the celebrity angle is one that you could use from time to time—not sure about the other two.
6. Play with language – repeat words, use first person, go long, ask questions. I Don’t Understand Half of What She’s Saying. But That’s Because She’s A Genius, And I Ain’t.
7. Put things together that don’t normally belong. They Talk About The One Terrifying Thing All Women Have In Common. It’s Very Beautiful.
8. Tell the story in the headline. 3 Women. 1 Diagnosis. 3 Different Countries. 3 Very Different Outcomes.

It’s funny the direction all this has gone. I recall The Washington Post newsroom where the copy editors/headline writers sat quietly at this circular desk. I just can’t imagine that kind of setup today and the result being 10 Women Get Naked, Put Paint on Their Bodies, And Deliver Some Meaningful Messages. Maybe I’m just being naïve.

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.

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