Confessions of a Former Content Junkie

Pierre Montagano thought content is king. Now he’s more into platforms and usage analytics


By Pierre Montagano


It has been five months since I last worked with any content and only now do I feel as if I am on the road to recovery. Let me explain.


I started my publishing career in 1998 with a book bag full of books and journals knowing I was going to make a difference in people’s lives. They would be more informed, make better decisions, get better jobs, and solve the world’s problems. I was a peddler of knowledge and feeling great. Every week I would get a paycheck and once (maybe twice) a year a big fat bonus! As long as the editorial staff produced more content and it was good, the money just rolled in.


Then came the transition. We started riding the wave of change from print to digital and were genuinely excited about the possibilities. Academic and educational publishing (I told myself) wasn’t going to be like the newspapers or the networks; we were going to make it. Digital delivery opened up new possibilities and I quickly changed jobs from sales to product management so I could be at the center of change. I soon found myself leading a team and we were responsible for collecting requirements, told to be innovative and build out the next chapter in publishing history. And build we did—our platform had all sorts of bells and whistles, but most important, it had the best content.


What followed were company re-orgs, jumping from publishing company to publishing company in order to escape the ever-increasing quotas that were harder and harder to meet. The redundancies, the firings, the misery.

What happened? I now know that the problem was that I was a content junkie, working with other junkies, all feeding off one another. Our veins were full of the purest content and it was never in short supply. Don’t get me wrong—I still love content—I’m just not addicted to it.


Here’s why:


  • I now know that it doesn’t matter how good the content is or how much content you have if people can’t find it. Here is an interesting and widely known statistic: for a Google search, on the first page alone, the first five results account for 70 percent of all the clicks and results six through ten account for less than 4 percent. IF YOU ARE NOT IN THE FIRST FIVE RESULTS THEN THE QUALITY OF YOUR CONTENT DOESN’T MATTER.


  • I now know that a dissatisfied user trying to find your exceptionally great and plentiful content is going to tell between nine and fifteen people about their frustrating experience. Publishers who have worked so hard to build powerful, well-respected brands with good content are throwing away their gains by creating unintuitive environments.


  • I now know that 40 percent of people will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.


  • I now know that a publisher’s platform is the most important part of their business and they need to run it like a business. The way Amazon and Netflix do. Amazon doesn’t care what it sells (it sells everything), what it cares about is how long it takes their users to get to satisfaction. One click, two clicks, maybe three.


 Publishers have great content but they need great platforms!


So I ditched the suit, the dress shoes, and the Manhattan office to join a tech start-up that does big data and usage analytics for publishers. It was my only choice because I still want students, teachers, researchers, and librarians to be more informed, make better decisions, get better jobs, and solve the world’s problems.


Pierre Montagano is the Business Development Director for Squid Solutions He has been in publishing for over fifteen years working for Cambridge University Press, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson. He can be reached at