Goodreads Looks For Advertisers Outside The Publishing World

GoodreadsGoodreads’ 30 million members save books to their “want to read” shelves, write reviews and share recommendations with friends.

Started as a place to help readers find books through real-life friends, it’s since become a social destination for people connecting with online and offline friends, attracting 45 million unique visitors a month.

The trove of data from these readers attracted the likes of Amazon, which acquired the company in April 2013 for a reported $150 million.

“We’re in this unique position of having deep targeted data on 30 million book lovers,” said David Creechan, VP of ad sales. “This genre and intent-based data allows us to create custom targeted display and email campaigns.”

Besides display and email, Goodreads’ social component – a book rated five stars by a friend will be noticed by all those in her circle – enables brands to “build an earned media component” into campaigns, Creechan said.

Goodreads operates as an independent subsidiary of Amazon, important for the book publishers that run campaigns on the site – and who are often at odds with Amazon. “We have great relationships with book publishers,” Creechan said.

But despite its independence, Goodreads is leveraging Amazon Media Group to explore opportunities to work with advertisers outside the publishing industry.

Ford Audiobook Club

Earlier this year, Goodreads created the “Ford Audiobook Club,” a collaboration with the Amazon Media Group, Amazon-owned and Ford, which wanted to reach women between 25 and 45 who listened to audiobooks.

Goodreads looked at its trending data to identify books on the cusp of being big that would resonate with Ford’s target audience. Their first selection was “#GIRLBOSS,” by fashion entrepreneur Sophie Amoruso. The author would join readers for a discussion of the book at the end of the month.

Display media on Amazon and Goodreads drove people to a microsite, where they were encouraged to add the book to the “want to read” list in order to trigger a free audiobook download and join the book club.

Adding a book to a “want to read” list creates a cascading social effect, since a reader’s friends can see picks and add the books themselves. Users can opt to post such information on Facebook; Goodreads was among the launch partners of Facebook Open Graph.

Goodreads sent targeted emails about the Ford Audiobook Club to people who had expressed interest in “#GIRLBOSS.”

The microsite attracted 100,000 unique users during the three-month campaign, which featured a different book each month. More than 8,000 members took advantage of the audiobook club giveaway.

Goodreads’ Data For Book Publishers

Campaigns for books (or movies and TV shows based on books) focus on activating core fans and finding new readers.

“We’ve gotten really good at helping accelerate amplify success of titles publishers launch,” said Goodreads CEO and founder Otis Chandler. “We’ve started advising publishers to do two book giveaways as part of their launch campaigns. One giveaway three months before launch and another just before the book comes out.”

Publishers can jump-start promotions via book giveaways to garner early reviews. “There’s a significant difference from buying clicks on other sites and the social activity on Goodreads,” Chandler said. “If you get someone to rate a book or write a review, that’s going to be on [the site] forever. A click disappears.”

Books by popular authors or movies based on titles offer opportunities to reactivate people who already have raised their hand for content. For the upcoming release of the film “Wild,” based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Goodreads is running display ads to the 300,000 people who have read Strayed’s book as well as those interested in related genres.

Besides targeting visitors with display ads, Goodreads reaches out to selected readers with its “personal selection email.”

People who have read a book and rated it three stars or more, or who have put it on their “want to read” shelf, receive an email alert about a movie based on a book they read or a new work from an author they’ve enjoyed.

Because readers take actions within the site – clicking on book ads that lead them to a book page, where they mark a book “want to read” or click offsite to buy – Goodreads approaches a closed loop between advertising and action.

“We can track how many people are adding a book on a daily basis, and we can show them spikes in how many people are adding a book to their ‘want to read’ shelf, and reviewing and rating books,” Creechan said, adding that Goodreads as a 90% renewal rate among advertisers that invest in the platform.

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