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Search for Subscription Publishers

For most publishers of premium information, search effectiveness is an important part of their service.

For some years, and especially in the B2B space, publishers have been morphing into hybrid companies that:

  • Create and / or aggregate premium content, and
  • Provide technology and tools to help customers consume this content efficiently

In doing so, business information publishers are becoming more technically aware, and in the case of larger publishers, much more technically capable.

Search is the primary information access method for many subscription customers. Effective search is key to getting the most out of the available content. A great search experience improves client loyalty and subscription renewal rates.

In many sectors, high quality of information is available from multiple sources, so customers have a choice. An excellent search system can provide competitive differentiation for publishers.

The quality and consistency of premium content is generally high. This means well-structured, and annotated with useful metadata, although this is not always the case. Sometimes, content has been acquired from external sources and content processing work is needed to normalize the data set.

Even very high quality content sets can benefit from additional, automatically generated metadata, because it is metadata that drives the search functions that subscription users find most useful.

If you are paying for access to content, then speed of response is something you expect. Premium content sets can be very large, so performance tuning is often an issue for publishers - balancing sophistication with speed of response.

Most subscription publishing services address niche markets, and within a niche, subject-specific vocabulary is extremely important. For example, the search system in a subscription service for the financial community should recognize that SEC = U.S Securities and Exchange Commission.

In some niches, there may be a culture of using advanced search functionality (fielded searches, Boolean syntax, etc.), so this should be provided.

Many subscription data sets are used for research purposes, and research projects may take hours, days or weeks to complete. Supporting technologies such as saved searches, shared results sets and other collaboration tools provide an environment in which search excellence can be fully exploited.

Especially for large content sets, search navigation and results sorting options are important ways to promote search efficiency. These functions rely on high quality metadata.

An increasing range of subscription search applications now also provide analytics functionality. For example, results sets can be plotted on timelines, and trends can be compared and explored. Again, the basis of these functions is good quality metadata, and lots of it.

In summary, important issues for subscription search applications are:

  • Getting the metadata and content processing strategy right
  • Customizing look, feel and function to niche audiences
  • Balancing sophisticated functionality with very fast response times

Search Technologies provides services to a wide range of leading publishers.  Contact us for an informal discussion.