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Plus Report - By Thomas Baekdal - May 2022

Most publishers get personalization wrong. So what is it?

As long as I have worked in the media, there has always been this notion that personalization is the golden nugget just waiting to be unlocked, leading publishers to incredible success in the future. If we could just personalize our publications, everything would suddenly work.

Now, the reality is that some of the bigger publishers have had some success with personalization, especially when used in relation to a subscription model where the metered paywall is behind a registration wall. For instance, we have seen how some publishers have used this registration to focus on what articles to put on the front, to create personalized newsletters, and other things like this.

On the whole, however, personalization is still mostly an illusive idea that doesn't really change that much for most publishers. And, if you are a smaller publisher, you don't even have the data or the volume to do this.

Take this site as a simple example. I send out a newsletter about once per week, and it consists of three elements. There is the latest Plus report, a newsletter feature article, and usually, an extra note about something interesting or important in the media.

I can't personalize this because those three articles are the total volume. So, I can't give one group of people one thing and then give another group another thing.

But this also leads to the question of what personalization really is. Is it just trying to match people to a segment of your articles, or is it something else? Well, in this article, I'm going to show you that it's definitely something else.

Had a nice dinner?

I'm going to start this article by asking you a simple question: "What did you have for dinner last night?"

Well, whatever it was, I hope it was really nice. But this leads me to my second question. Would you like to have the same dinner tonight? ... and tomorrow night? ... and the day after tomorrow night? ... and indeed every single day for the entire next week?

The answer is obvious. No, you would not like to have the same dinner every single day, even though, last night, you really enjoyed it. In fact, if you tried it, you would very quickly come to hate that dinner.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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