Real Time Relevancy – don’t waste your audience’s time

Let’s assume someone is looking for information about a Scottish whisky region. He will ask Google (or Bing or Yahoo) for “Lowlands” or “Islay”. Google will lead him to information about the differences between Lowland and Isley whiskies. He will read about grain-whiskies and malt-whiskies. He will find information about the distilleries, about Cameronbridge, North British, Strathclyde, Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich and many more. He really can dive deeply into the secrets of its manufacturing, of its origins and history.

Whilst educating himself about Scottish whisky he might be in the mood to receive more information about the topic. About other Scottish regions. Perhaps about Irish whiskey, Canadian whisky or bourbon. Or about other high-class spirits like gin, cognac, rum. Because these topics are relevant right now.

Of course Google delivers this information. More SERPs will be shown and AdWords campaigns will appear. Google is utilising the principle of Real Time Relevancy better than most of the other tech companies. Real Time Relevancy is the foundation of Google’s business model. But we as publishers should not leave that job to Google. It should be our very own goal to bring the user to our content. Don’t let Google tell you otherwise. This is our business, our content and our audience – not theirs.

Publishers therefore are constantly optimising their sites to deliver a satisfactory user experience. Publishers try hard to display appropriate advertising which is referring to the content and to offer the reader more related contents. That’s nice, but not enough. For our understanding we not only have to guide the reader to further information from our portfolio, we have to do more. Here’s how: 

  1. We have to anticipate which information might be of high interest for him
  2. We must connect and link this information immediately
  3. There will be a call-to-action button he cannot neglect to follow
  4. Real time analytics further helps to maximise our content’s impact
  5. Let the machines and not the editors handle relevant content connections just in time

And if I say anticipate I mean analyse. Because it is not a question of the editor’s gut feeling. It is a question of data. Google’s Display Planner – the former Ad Planner – delivers insights into people’s search habits and reveals related keyword phrases.

Every editor can analyse the search habits of its target group. Today every editor can draft a precise picture of the audience’s interests. Great – but just ask your editors if they are really doing it. My guess is: they don’t. It’s a long way to incorporate big data and real time analytics into the editorial routines.

We at Ebner Publishing are analysing the search habits of our audiences. Not only with Google’s Display Planner – that is a fine tool but not fast enough to analyse huge amounts of data constantly. Therefore we are using, a tool that delivers enterprise SEO and content marketing analysis, recommendations, forecasting and reporting. Furthermore we are using Liquid Newsroom, another real time SAS-tool which primarily examines social media environments. Accordingly we are able to analyse any given topic or niche market within a few hours and to create an adequate content strategy. Adequate content means for us to produce a network of topics which the audience is really looking for. These topics must be interrelated. 

According to the principle of Real Time Relevancy we have to anticipate contextual correlations. If someone is looking for “Islay” we can offer him immediately a download about the “7 best Islay Destilleries”. We can link him to a detailed story about the history of Scottish whisky. We will offer him a complete overview of the other Scottish regions. From there we offer him a list of the “20 most popular Scottish whiskies”. Of course we should connect every whisky in this list with our online shop where a bottle can be ordered. Or we offer a wallpaper which displays the different regions or  distilleries and displays packshots of the 20 whiskies. Or we might offer an ebook: “Facts and Trivia about Scottish Whisky”. Of course there are ebooks like this for Canadian whisky, Irish and American whiskey. And perhaps we produce a beautiful coffee table book about Scottish whisky distilleries. Did you know that one of the most sought-after keywords is “Whisky Sour” or “Whiskey Sour” (according to It could make sense to create a list of “The 12 best whisky cocktails” and let it be displayed as much as possible. 

Of utmost importance is the seamless integration of all these interrelated content pieces into a coherent strategy. The user must receive relevant messages which grab his attention exactly when he is browsing on any of your website’s content areas.

For this reason we at Ebner developed an algorithm that allows us to place an appropriate message just when the user is ready to receive this message. This algorithm produces so-called shop widgets that establish a direct relevant link between our shop and the content on the site. Every digital item is stored in the shop, to access it a registration or even a payed download is necessary. Furthermore the shop offers physical items, either through our warehouse or through partners. Therefore it is our objective to use the user’s current interest to drive him towards our shop products. It has to be emphasised that these shop products primarily are content products that are only accessible after a registration. But due to the user’s current interest this registration is only a minor obstacle because we utilised Real Time Relevancy to drive him towards relevant products. The shop is one centre piece around which we build our whole ecosystem. It Is the nucleus of Ebner’s media ecosystem. Every website has to be closely connected with the shop. (I wrote about it in another post on FIPP which you will find here)

Real Time Relevancy is more than displaying relevant ads around any given content. It means to define, to produce and to offer highly targeted products that are the result of an analysis of your audience’s search habits. And to bring these products to the user’s attention when there’s the best time to do so. It’s a fully automated process at Ebner. Our algorithm is displaying approximately 3m relevant messages per month. Tens of thousands of visitors are directed to our shops every month, and on average 23 per cent of these visitors place an order. Our extremely high conversion rate proves that it makes sense to grab the user’s attention when our products have the highest Real Time Relevancy.

Finally, let us again look at the aforementioned users in search of information about Scottish whisky. In traditional media environments a story about Islay may be used to display an ad for the new Volvo, Hilton Hotels or UBS. That is not a joke – I have just seen this on while writing this FIPP post here in Cleveland. None of these messages has any relevance regarding Islay. What a waste of ad dollars. I begin to wonder why publishers still complain about miserable click through rates of the many non-relevant ads their websites serve. If users receive messages without any significance or content relevancy in any given moment – why should they click on the ad? Google has built an extremely successful business model around Real Time Relevancy, while most publishers didn’t. 

Perhaps it is time to stop wasting our reader’s time.      

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