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Business Publishing: Aspermont Drives Revenues through Search

Leading UK B2B publisher uses Solr to provide an enhanced user experience

BACKGROUND

As business publishers continue to see revenues move from print to online, finding the right combination of online content and services for the target community is key to success. And for many online communities, search is the default information access tool given the volume and variety of the publishers' content.

Aspermont, a UK leader in business content publishing, delivers subscription-based content through digital, print, conferencing and events channels. With a goal to provide high quality B2B information services, Aspermont looked to leverage search to build additional valuable services for its target communities.

CHALLENGE

In the B2B communities, the use of search has become an established part of their daily information discovery workflow.

However, some business publishers have found it difficult to deal with the importance that their target communities attach to search. Smaller publishers struggle to prioritize search as a strategic part of their online offering. Larger publishers often find conflict in the "Google: Friend or Foe" debate, relying on Google for traffic, yet competing with Google as a starting point on the web, and in some cases for advertising dollars.

SOLUTION

Aspermont decided to tackle the issue head-on by adding a web search option to its portfolio of subscription news and free-to-air information services.

Open attitudes, open source solutions

The plan was to provide a "best-of-web" search experience for Aspermont's highly-specialized B2B communities, combining the latest search technology with the deep industry experience of Aspermont's editorial team. Ambitions went beyond simply limiting web search to certain industry-specific websites.

Aspermont turned to open source to control the costs of indexing tens of millions of documents into a search application, and with Search Technologies' help, a Solr/Lucene-based solution was built.

Just a few months after the launch, the resulting search experiences were taking more than 100,000 search requests a month, providing an up-to-date and highly-customized view of the web. This helped Aspermont to position themselves as a default starting point on the web for professionals in the industries they serve. In addition, Aspermont was able to secure substantial, niche online audiences valued by its trade advertising clients.

Using their advantages

Specialist publishers, especially those reliant on trade advertising, face significant new challenges in the online world. Yet when it comes to search, they have some important advantages – their knowledge of the industry and the target audience, and the ability to focus exclusively on that audience. This is not a luxury afforded to general search engines. Aspermont has leveraged these advantages and created a search experience, through the use of industry ontologies and categorisation techniques, that is very specific to their communities. Visitors to Aspermont properties from within target industries perceive immediately that the search function has been built specifically for them.

Aspermont’s new vertical search functionality also attracts new audiences from their target sectors in other parts of the world.

RESULTS

Web search drives traffic

The additional website traffic that Aspermont's vertical search services have attracted is highly qualified.  A search destination obviously configured for mining professionals, for example, does not attract casual, untargeted web traffic. Further, through the use of productivity tools such as downloadable widgets and syndicated search boxes, Aspermont is further embedding itself in its users' daily workflow.

New trade advertising options

As most trade advertisers know through their use of Google AdWords, web users can be effectively targeted using search. Specialist publishers have traditionally provided excellent demographic targeting for their advertisers.  Aspermont now offers their advertising clients a compelling mixture of a highly-qualified audience combined with the targeting of individuals based on search requests.

Aspermont use Search Technologies' Solr-based hosted search service.

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