Solutions Showcase: Do You Know Where Your Content Is?
More and more, publishers are seeking content management systems (CMSs) that help them to create in one system content intended for any channel. These tools serve as central repositories of content stored in extensible markup language (XML) and interact with other publishing and delivery systems (e.g., print and Web), thus enabling publishers to repurpose content across a host of channels on the fly.
“With XML, you can centralize all of your content and then do multichannel delivery. If I put all my content in XML in one centralized platform, I have the ability to quickly go in the direction I need to go when the time comes,” says John Kreisa, director of product marketing for San Carlos, Calif.-based MarkLogic, whose flagship product is an XML server that stores, manages, searches and dynamically delivers content.
Beyond storing content in a centralized location and enabling multichannel deployment, some CMSs offer text search, content aggregation, analytics, alerting and text-mining functionality.
“The Web is a game of relevancy,” says David Crouy, marketing director for Nstein Technologies, a Montreal-based company that offers products for Web content management, digital asset management and text mining, among others. “Google has shown it, and Google’s success was really based on its ability to provide relevant experiences to its users, which made it quite quickly No. 1.”
Nstein offers text mining integrated to its Web CMS. Text mining structures and organizes content, and extracts meta data (e.g., names of people, organizations and places, sentiments, opinions, etc.), allowing publishers to link related content together and repurpose it. Text mining allows publishers to contextualize whole Web pages, which offers more relevant experiences to users, says Crouy. Readers are, in turn, inclined to consume more content, thus increasing page views.
In this way, contextualizing can benefit a publisher’s bottom line, allowing them to charge advertisers more by contextually associating advertising banners with content, thus offering a more targeted, relevant audience, he adds.
Open vs. Proprietary
One key, differentiating factor between CMS tools on the market is their degree of “openness,” so to speak. Some CMS tools pitch themselves as “open source,” others are “open architecture,” and still others are considered “proprietary.” According to Ed Stevenson, product manager and senior analyst at Really Strategies, an industry consulting firm and creator of the XML-based CMS RSuite, open-source tools generally are “free” in terms of licensing and the ability to access and change the source code. For open-architecture tools, publishers purchase a license to use software that has open standards and allows for customization and integration with other systems. Proprietary (or closed-architecture) systems are more of what Stevenson calls “a black box,” often characterized by greater restrictions on exporting content to other systems.
Crouy recommends open-architecture solutions because they offer the ability to adapt to new trends on the market. “If you don’t do that then, you’re going to be stuck with a proprietary Web CMS that won’t be able to evolve as you will, and then two years down the road it might not fit your needs anymore,” he says.
However, like open-source tools, open-architecture solutions have costs beyond the license fees. Ryan Means, e-commerce manager for Success Media—whose parent company, VideoPlus, publishes five national magazines including Success Magazine—says after a four- to five-month research and request-for-proposal process, his company narrowed the list of CMS vendors it was considering to three, two of which are open architecture. While the open offerings have a lot more flexibility for future deployments, they require a larger up-front investment.
“We would have to build and maintain a development group in-house, and this was not an option given our current staffing,” Means says. His company ended up selecting ePublishing’s Software as a Service CMS solution. The solution includes Web design, development, hosting, and ongoing service and support. “The proprietary nature of ePublishing allowed us to focus on the design and marketing aspects, which we felt was where our focus was better utilized,” he adds.
Tips for Choosing and Implementing a CMS
In the end, different solutions work for different companies, whether out-of-the-box, built internally from scratch, open, etc. Means says the key things to look for in a CMS are usability and scalability.
Stevenson offers the following general tips to publishers looking to purchase a CMS:
- Start with a business model and take into account not only what your processes are now, but also what your processes will look like in the future.
- Look for CMS vendors with experience in publishing. The needs of publishers—who often have multiple staff pushing content online on a regular basis based on templates—are vastly different than the needs of other industries, for whom content is not the sole product.
- When you implement, start small. Test one magazine first to get the kinks out of the process and the system.
- Consider your in-house capabilities. Understand who will be using the system and what their skill levels are.
Abny Santicola is managing editor of Publishing Executive sister publications FundRaising Success and eMarketing and Commerce. Contact her at ASanticola@NAPCO.com.