Peter McCarthy is the co-founder and chief creative officer of The Logical Marketing Agency. He is a technical marketing executive with more than 20 years experience in trade publishing, including in senior executive roles at Penguin and Random House, where he headed up marketing innovation efforts.
In his role at The Logical Marketing Agency, McCarthy brings his unique perspective and technical experience to the changing book marketplace, helping clients innovate, transform and execute based on audience-centric insights, data and analysis.
At Digital Book World 2016, McCarthy will lead a discussion titled “The Book Buyer’s Journey” and host a masterclass called “Audience Research: Tools, Tactics and Techniques.”
We recently spoke to McCarthy about data’s impact on publishing, what his work consists of, and what he will be speaking on at DBW.
Your work largely takes place at the intersection of technology and marketing. What sorts of things are you exploring or working on at the moment?
Of great interest to me is using technologies and data to derive insights into high-potential book audiences, quickly and inexpensively. Essentially, I’m always looking for ways to take the digital best practices one might see at a big agency—typically marketing—and right-size and fit them to publishing’s particular business model, which has, in the past, proven a barrier to garnering insights in a manner that was sustainable across whole lists.
Data is a topic we hear a lot about now in book publishing. What do you think the most exciting practical applications for data are in the industry today?
There are two threads of data developments that interest me most. The first is the increasing sophistication around optimizing books in the e-commerce space, such things as metadata through to pricing. The data harvesting and analysis I see being done there is very interesting and very practical in that it can drive meaningful sales growth. The second is the relative ease with which publishers can understand the audiences for their authors, individual titles and brands. Many of the massive platforms out there—Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram—provide the ability to observe potential consumers “in the wild.” I think this is under-utilized right now, but it is very exciting to me.
You’re giving a talk called “The Book Buyer’s Journey.” Can you give us a preview of what you’ll discuss?
Well, I’ll give a short talk along with Peter Hildick-Smith of Codex and Tom Thompson from Verso and then sit down for a panel discussion. The perspective I plan to bring to this is looking at some macro trends as they relate to the various stages book buyers move through as they buy—intent, consideration, purchase, and, often, loyalty. The macro trends will be things like the multi-screen path, the multi-channel path—online to offline and visa versa. How people find out about and buy books, basically.
You’re also hosting a masterclass titled “Audience Research: Tools, Tactics and Techniques.” The themes seem pretty self-explanatory, but as in the question before, can you summarize what ideas you’ll be touching on?
Understanding the book audiences—there are many for every book—is something publishers have been after for years. The growing amount of data in the Knowledge and Social Graphs enables great leaps here. And I maintain that a lot of this is easier than it may sound; there are a lot of what I like to call “small tools” that enable views into “big data.” Big consumer data on demographics, psychographics and behavior that can truly help publishers aim and align their efforts with the people out there who will want what they have on offer. This is about how one can do that.
Why do you come to DBW every year?
To learn. And, when asked, to hopefully provide some nuggets that may be useful to others. I’m looking forward to doing both of those things this year. And I’ll add that this year is particularly exciting. I’m pretty much obsessed with SEO, which is no great secret to anyone who knows me, and Rand Fishkin is going to be at DBW this year. Not to get all fan boy, but he is the Wizard of Moz—a pioneering SEO company. I wouldn’t pass up the chance to hear him.
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