Yesterday was part 2 of the BISG’s 3-part webcast series, Evolving Metadata Practices: Latest Research on Workflow, ROI, and the Transition to ONIX 3.0. Part two was called, Understanding Metadata ROI: Inisghts from Nielsen’s White Paper, The Link Between Metadata and Sales. Jonathan Nowell, from Nielsen BookData, presented data about the findings described in Nielsen’s white paper. (Read part one on my post The BISG’s Metadata Research Project).
First, there are a few things to keep in mind. Nielsen conducted a study of the top 100,000 titles published in the U.K., which happened to be 90% of the U.K. market. They used metadata according to the BIC standard, which is equivalent to the BISAC standard in the U.S. In the study, they looked at sales and compared sales of titles using no metadata, basic metadata, and enhanced metadata to see which worked best. (All metadata was input into fields outside of ebooks that fed into retailer systems).
Below are examples of BIC basic levels of metadata:
- Product form
- Main BIC subject category
- Imprint name
- Pub date
- Cover image
- At least one supplier name
- Availability status
- Rights (relating to UK)
One important finding is that completing all fields of metadata, and having images associated with it are very important for sales, for both online and offline.
Jonathan said that titles that have all basic metadata information have on average 98% higher sales than titles that don’t fill out all basic metadata fields.
But having enhanced metadata is even more important. Enhanced metadata is richer information, and includes descriptions, reviews, author bios, and promotional information. In the Nielsen study, they looked at four enhanced metadata elements in particular: short description, long description, reviews, and blog.
Having all four enhanced metadata elements increased sales significantly more than having only 1-2 enhanced metadata elements. There is also a strong relationship between enhanced metadata and online sales, with a 178% increase. Additionally, Jonathan said that 48% of the top 100,000 titles in the Nielsen study had all four enhanced metadata fields.
So what does this mean? Well, good data helps sell books.
As you can see from Jonathan’s graph, enhanced metadata greatly affects (meaning has the sharpest rise in average sales) for fiction titles, especially if had all four enhanced metadata elements are filled out.
But, if you had to choose only one enhanced metadata field to use, the study showed that long descriptions were most effective for fiction, specialist, and trade titles, while short descriptions were most effective for children’s titles. Reviews were the least significant indicator of sales for all but trade non-fiction titles (short descriptions were less significant).
Jonathan said that publishers who used enhanced metadata service from Nielsen saw increase in sales of 28%. Additionally, titles that did not have enhanced metadata and did not have all basic metadata have average sales of 384 units, while titles that had all basic metadata plus the four enhanced metadata elements had average sales of 3,042 units.
Enhanced metadata helped increase both offline and online sales, though it affected online sales more. For titles with all four enhanced metadata elements, offline sales increased 35%, while online sales increased 178%.
What helps even more is having appropriate and descriptive metadata; in other words–accurate and rich!
Some other things to consider:
- 19 U.K. publishers saw an increase in backlist sales after adding enhanced metadata
- In the online world, metadata is extremely important for discovery
- Share of sales are shifting more to online, for both print and ebooks
“Historically,” Jonathan said, “a large part of the role metadata has is in terms of grabbing the attention of the book buyer in store, simply because you want to differentiate yourself from the plethora of other book products.”
So, if you’re an author or publisher, how do you begin to enhance your metadata?
- Get all the basic elements together.
- Understand what quality metadata actually means (be as comprehensive as possible in completion of metadata fields)
- Make sure metadata descriptions are interesting, dynamic, and provide the appropriate richness
- Make sure that metadata process begins at conception, and goes through beyond publication (constantly adding, revising, reviewing, and updating metadata accurately)
Metadata should come first in the marketing process. Also, investing in richness and comprehensiveness is important. It’s about promoting discovery as early as possible in the publishing cycle.
“Without that, no matter how good your social marketing is, your book will not be discoverable, and sales will be lost.”
Want more? Read part three: ONIX and Metadata