Brian O’Leary In books and other media, authors and publishers traditionally have products to market and sell, whether in digital or physical formats. But an emerging business view holds that opportunity lies beyond the products. In this approach, the audience is where the money lies.

Already, subscription services for books – such as Scribd and Oyster – have led publishers to think differently about their sales-driven businesses. Media consultant Brian O’Leary says the time has come for experimenting with so-called “conversion architectures” – business models that involve attracting an audience, retaining it in various ways, then monetizing it. For publishers, this means a new take on content, including offering it as an incentive or premium.

BookNet Canada Logo“I’m sure that’s not the most comfortable thing for publishers who’ve classically monetized the products by selling them.  But I think, if you think about subscription models as an example, it’s an opportunity to test different types of content,” said O’Leary, founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting.  “The process of putting together an audience in a subscription service is very much conversion architecture.  A lot of people are aware.  Some people are at least engaged on an ongoing basis.  And then there are those people who actually subscribe.  So I think that applying those in different settings is going to open up different conversations about what business models make sense.”

O’Leary spoke with CCC’s Chris Kenneally to preview his presentation later this month in Toronto for BookNet Canada’s Tech Forum, the largest tech-focused professional development event in the Canadian publishing industry.

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