Connect with FOLIO:
         

ADVERTISEMENT



FOLIO: Personalities -- The Blog People Page


Caysey Welton

Face Up Online: Arizona Highways

Caysey Welton Design and Production - 01/31/2014-09:20 AM

Welcome to the first edition of Face Up Online.

If you're a reader of our Magazine then you're familiar with the concept. But if you're new, it's simple: Designers from around the industry critique various magazine covers. The critiques are often highly technical and aim to help designers consider certain practices before they go out and plan their next package.

Face Up in print does have a few hitches though--timeliness, frequency and sometimes space. There are so many great covers being produced week after week, but we only get to focus in on a dozen or so each year. Face Up Online gives us the flexibility to start conversations about more covers on a regular basis, and in some cases, when it matters.

We didn't want the online version to look like a magazine replica. Print allows us to slow the story down and speak with a multitude of creatives, and tell the tale behind the cover from a magazine's perspective. Here, the objective is to extend the franchise but shake up some mission-critical elements by adding historical context, cross comparisons, emotional response and insightful storytelling.

Design vet Robert Newman will be teaming up with us and every other week to offer his expert opinion. To kick things off we showed him a handful of covers to consider and he quickly narrowed it down to Arizona Highways' January issue.

Here's his take:

This is a solid, well-done cover, featuring crisp easy-to-read typography, understated, tasteful color and of course a powerful image. Arizona Highways is known for spectacular scenic photography, but even by their high standards this picture is a great one. I've looked at the magazine for decades, and I'd rank this photo of "The Wave" as one of their all-time best.

Arizona Highways' current cover format engages the readers with headlines and teasers much more than it did in the past, and creative director, Barbara Glynn Denney, is very skilled at integrating type and graphics while leaving plenty of space for the cover photograph to breath and luxuriate. There's a strong attention to detail and positioning as well; an obviously keen eye is assembling the parts and polishing them into a very elegant package.

That said, I think the main cover headline, "10 Rare Opportunities," is a head scratcher. I think if you're going to put a headline of that size over a picture with that kind of impact, it really needs to be a lot more direct and engaging, instead of sitting there thick and dense like a big old slab of petrified wood. Imagine this headline attached to an online story or a tweet, and how little attention it would attract. It seems to me that a main cover headline should captivate and promise as much magic as the photograph it accompanies (and the story it's representing). This headline does not come close to doing that.

At the risk of sounding hopelessly old school, I wish that Arizona Highways could return to something of the graphic flavor of their covers from the 1960s. And yes, I know that classic logo of theirs that I love hasn't appeared since Nixon was President, but there was something about it that gave the magazine a very specifically Arizona and Western flavor, something that is lacking in the current slick but place-unspecific design. A number of regional magazines, including Los Angeles and Atlanta, have created very characteristic logos with a hand-crafted feel, that help give them a dash of local flavor.

The design of Arizona Highways, separate, of course, from those wonderful cover photos, feels like it could be from Oregon, or Philadelphia, Vermont, or anyplace else. Those 1960s Arizona Highways covers feel very contemporary to me, reminiscent of some of the very polished and elegant indie magazines that have been sprouting up in the U.S. and U.K. At a minimum, perhaps Arizona Highways could do a split run cover, and give their subscribers a version with minimal cover lines, and a photograph presented in full, unobstructed glory. -BN

Robert Newman was most recently the creative director of Reader's Digest. He has been the creative director of Real Simple and the design director of Entertainment Weekly, New York, Details, Vibe, Inside, The Village Voice, and Guitar World. He was also the editor of The Rocket, a music and culture magazine based in Seattle. Visit his site and read his full bio and follow him @Newmanology



 

More...
Mitch Speers

Your Next Hit Product Doesn't Exist Yet

Mitch Speers B2B - 01/30/2014-15:41 PM

 

If you are a media company, your top-selling product for 2017 probably hasn't been invented yet. This was one of the more headline-worthy findings of JEGI's 2014 Media Growth Study (pdf). You don't have to believe in Kurzweil's Singularity to see that the rate of change in information technology is accelerating. The shrinking time-to-adoption curves in this plot illustrate that technologies go from invention to mass adoption more quickly every year.

 


 

It's easy to be overwhelmed by the rate of change, and get caught up in chasing the latest technology as the savior of your business. But when new technology goes mass-market so quickly, the competitive advantage it confers to early adopters doesn't last very long. Soon everybody has it and it's just table stakes. All industries are in the process of being disrupted by information technology, even if they don't all see it yet.

I believe the only way to maintain competitive advantage is to be better and faster than your competitors at translating customer needs into new business models. The promise of predictive analytics based on Big Data may allow deep-pocketed companies to build defensible market positions for themselves for a time, but automation and optimization can only go so far. We aren't yet at the point where algorithms can make the leap from vaguely-expressed customer frustration to ground-breaking new product concept.

Where do you start? In the JEGI study, 31 percent of executives said they had a structured innovation program for generating new product ideas, while 71 percent said launching new products or services would be a top growth driver over the next two years. That's a disconnect you can take advantage of. Create and embrace a structure for innovation in your company and you'll innovate faster and more effectively. What does that structure look like? Sounds like a great topic for another post.

 

 

More...
Mitch Speers

Usability: The Secret to a Profitable Redesign

Mitch Speers emedia and Technology - 01/28/2014-13:17 PM

 

Is your website converting visits to revenue efficiently enough? Getting people to fill out a registration form or click through on an offer is difficult, but getting it right is critical in the battle for revenue and market share. The most effective thing you can do is to learn directly from your users how to lay out your site and what to offer.

The benefits of this approach are well-documented, but the example that resonates with most of us is the ACA or "Obamacare" website. This site was built the way many publisher sites are, without doing any usability testing up front. We all know how that turned out.

Let's review the typical approaches taken by publishers:

Focus Group of One

Use internal staff as "stand-ins" for your users. Editors know their readers, so this should work, right? It's popular because it's really easy. The dismal results of this approach are everywhere.

Research Best Practices
Study the latest best practices in user interface design, lean UX, persuasion architectures, and the many sources of insight about how to remove friction from your conversion funnels. This is worthwhile, and applying these lessons to your site will likely generate measureable improvement.

However, there are problems. Which expert do you believe? How do the cumulative results of user behavior on many other sites compare to your users, your industry and your content?

Best practices give you insights like "send your newsletter on Tuesday morning" or "make action buttons bigger." They can't be specific to your users because they represent aggregated, normalized data, not detailed feedback. Researching and applying best practices is a lot better than the focus group of one, but it's still a scattershot approach.

A/B or Multivariate Testing
Tools like Adobe Target, Google Experiments or Optimizely can allow you to test copy, layout and graphical elements to see which combinations yield the best conversion rate. What this kind of testing can't reveal is why users like Page A more than Page B. You might get lucky, but this kind of testing is best used to optimize products that have already been designed with direct input from your users.

Usability Testing
Usability testing involves the user going though a number of tasks while giving constant feedback to the researcher. Everything the user does is captured in a screen recording, and in a video that captures the user's reactions at every stage. In this way researchers understand in detail how well users are able to use the website or app, what confuses or annoys them, and what they'd really like to see but don't. Then you go build according to what you learned, and before launch, you test it again to make sure you got it right.

Think about the last major brand site that left you frustrated. For me it was trying to add minutes to my kids' AT&T prepaid phones. An hour of bouncing between website and phone representatives finally finished what should have taken a minute of navigating and clicking. I can guarantee you that AT&T skipped usability testing, with a very frustrating result for millions of customers like me. Do you think a poorly-designed subscribe process is any less frustrating for your users?

Usability testing isn't cheap (figure $20,000 to start) because it involves a lot of time, resources and logistics. That price tag is dwarfed by the amounts publishers regularly spend on designs that confuse and confound users. Publishers who apply usability as part of their regular process would prefer that you continue to view it as something that can be safely ignored. If you want to make more than incremental improvements in your next site redesign, budgeting for usability testing is a smart move.

 

 

More...
Roy Beagley

Matching Your Digital Magazine Features With Your Audience

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 01/24/2014-11:28 AM

 

More and more publishers have a digital version of their magazines and if you are about to embark upon the digital road, there is a great deal to consider before you take the plunge.

Digital magazines can do a lot to boost a publisher’s presence, but there are many issues to keep in mind. The savvy circulation professional knows to look at both the positive and negative possibilities as a matter of course. The savvy circulation professional recognizes,   for instance, that a 70 percent renewal response really equates to 30 percent of the file disappearing. The savvy circulation professional will recognize that you need to evaluate what kind of digital magazine will work for your market.

Digital magazines have one major advantage over print: you can adapt them to individual readers’ requirements. Print cannot do this easily, although it has been done for longer than you may think. The Economist, Time, and Newsweek as far back as the seventies used to change the pagination of most issues to reflect readership simply by moving sections of the magazine around.

In deciding what will work for your magazine, you have to look at what you have available. You also have to decide what you want to achieve by producing a digital version. Is it going to support the print product or branch out on its own? Is it going to replace the print product? Does the editorial department have the ability to be proactive in possibly producing “personal” content? What information can you access on your subscribers to make their digital experience worthwhile?

Answers to these questions will dictate the digital path you need to take. Digital magazines arguably have a disadvantage over print—and that is accessibility, ironically enough. You need something to read the magazine on, be it a tablet, phone, laptop or desktop. Some of these options are more portable than others, but the fact is that a print product just needs to be picked up and you are good to go. You need to make readers’ experience as memorable as possible otherwise renewal and requalification rates will start to fall and this is something we already know, certainly on controlled circulation as response rates differ vastly between print and digital.

At its simplest your digital magazine can just be a copy or replica of your print publication. Not only is this the simplest solution, it is also probably the cheapest—and the most boring. However, as noted above a digital strategy is a companywide thing, it relies on the abilities of production, editorial, advertising as well as circulation or audience development. You can split a digital edition out by geographic area, and this could be as broad as continent or as narrow as zip or post code. If you have demographics on your subscribers, you could gear your editorial according to those demographics.  The more demographics or information you have, the more defined your digital magazine can be.

Next week we’ll discuss how far you can take your digital initiative and what you need to measure to see whether it is working—or not.

 

 

More...
Michael Rondon

You Choose: Which Hillary Cover?

Michael Rondon Design and Production - 01/23/2014-12:16 PM

More...
Linda Ruth

Back to the Future in 2014: A Former Wholesaler’s Prediction

Linda Ruth Audience Development - 01/15/2014-14:10 PM

 

My first day at work in 2014, I was delighted to get a call from a very dear mentor of mine, a former wholesaler who built his business in the years when there were hundreds of them and closed it when independent wholesalers were losing their place in the changing distribution model.

This wholesaler has a few bookstores left from the old days and keeps his finger on the pulse of magazine distribution through his stores and his friends in the business. He’s always had a remarkable sense of the ebb and flow of business trends and what they indicate, so when I’m lucky enough to hear from him I always listen attentively to what he has to say. Naturally I wanted to know what he thinks about our current magazine landscape.

What he sees is opportunity.

“The business today is just the same as it was when I first got into it,” he said. “Dominated by very large distributors who couldn’t maintain profit by sending product to such far-flung locations. Magazines are disappearing from the shelves because no one could afford to distribute them to the stores. Racks are getting smaller as a result. Handling all those magazines—that’s a lot of work.”

Maybe so, but where, I wondered, was the opportunity? It looks like the opposite, doesn’t it?

Not for a trucker or a shipper or a warehouse, my friend responded. Not for someone starting out and looking for a need to fill. “If I were a young man, I’d do now what I did then,” he said. “I’d start a wholesale agency. I’d pick up local businesses, the stores that can’t make it work getting their shipments from thousands of miles away, and I’d bring them magazines and I’d do it well. We had consolidation, then we had fragmentation, and now we have consolidation again. It’s time for the pendulum to swing back.”

My old friend is quick to acknowledge the differences today—the national chains doing their buying nationally, the loss of the mom and pop businesses that once played such a key role, the growth of digital sales. But problems, in his world, equal opportunities, and a broken model demands fundamental shifts.

“Throughout this country we still have local businesses,” he said. “They’re starting up all the time. Chain stores are closing down here and there and independent retailers are moving into their old space. And some chains want local service for their stores.

“You’ll be seeing changes in the coming years, even just in this year. And one way the changes could go is to have new local agencies pop up, to do the work the big guys can’t.”

 

 

More...
Roy Beagley

Renewal Notices and First Impressions

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 01/15/2014-14:04 PM

 

Harlan Hogan said “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” which is almost as annoying as “there is no ‘I’ in team,” but even more annoying is both these sayings happen to be true.

Whether you are sending a new offer, a renewal effort, an invoice or an order acknowledgement, your outer envelope speaks volumes about your publication. Therefore, before you decide on outer envelope copy, make sure you understand your audience.

“Yo Dude! Here’s a mega awesome offer!” is probably not going to work well if you are offering a new subscription and your audience is CEOs, expectant mothers or students of English literature. Keep in mind the audience you are serving. Sending a letter to chief executives in a plain envelope without any copy whatsoever almost guarantees the letter will be opened, thus proving the adage “less is more” is just as annoying as “there is no ‘I’ in team” as well as Mr. Hogan’s message noted earlier.

Keeping the message on target is important, but urging the recipient to do something is also a good technique. If I get an envelope that states: “You need do nothing”, then I do nothing and throw the unopened envelope away. If I get an envelope that says: “You need do nothing… but what about 5 extra issues?” my trash can may not fill up quite so quickly, since now I am intrigued by the offer.

I’m not sure how many people only send renewal notices by email, but if you do not put at least a couple of renewal efforts in the mail, you are missing an opportunity. I know more and more people are getting and paying their invoices on the Internet but many are still convinced it’s unsafe for personal data. Don’t let “being green” stop you from mailing some renewal efforts. And be creative. Done correctly, you will see a good response to mail efforts, probably better than your email response.

Putting an acknowledgement of an order into the mail is not a bad idea. You can use this notice to offer people an opportunity to extend their subscription term (called a renewal at birth), or offer them other products. Here’s suggested copy: “Thanks for being part of our family and as a valued member, here are some other products we thought you might like to know about.”

This approach makes you a) look as if you really care (which you do) and b) get more revenue just for being nice.

However, all of this relies on one thing, getting people to open the envelope. Ask yourself what makes you open an envelope. The promise of a benefit? Something free inside? Engagement, such as a short quiz?
Think long and hard…and prosper!

 

More...
Mike Kisseberth

Native Advertising and Programmatic Buying: Predictions for 2014

Mike Kisseberth Sales and Marketing - 01/10/2014-09:31 AM

 

Native advertising and programmatic buying were all the rage in 2013—and for good reason.

According to eMarketer, native ad spending will exceed $3 billion in just three years. Publishers are trying to take advantage, of course, with nearly 75 percent now offering online native ads across their sites. Any why not? BuzzFeed, the poster child for native, is both profitable and growing at a time when many media companies, new and old alike, are finding it increasingly difficult to do either of those things.

Still, native advertising only shared annual buzzword honors with programmatic buying. Programmatic is expected to account for nearly 30 percent of all display ad spending by 2017—or over $9 billion. That’s because 85 percent of advertisers use it, with 91 percent expected to do so in the next two years. And like native, publishers are going where the money is. 72 percent now have programmatic offerings in place.

Long-term growth for both native and programmatic is clear. But the two categories are still very young. Over the next year, how might the way in which we use them change? Here are a few predictions.

Native Advertising


1. Standardization Is Coming

With the recent release of the IAB's Native Ad Playbook, we’ll see continued standardization of native ads and native ad serving. Remember—while native spending will likely hit $3 billion in just a few years, the concept is, again, relatively new. Implementing structure and a consistent framework will only help both buyers and sellers maximize opportunities and take full advantage of the trend.

2. “Answering” the Scale Question

The next big hurdle in native advertising will be to close the programmatic-native gap. The pressure is on figuring out how to automate native, similar to RTB and programmatic, so that publishers can create custom content quickly and with little overhead, to drive actual scale.

3. Expect Greater Regulation

Disclosure and transparency in native advertising will continue to be top-of-mind for the industry. Expect stronger guidelines and standards to be considered by the FTC in the New Year, with the industry encouraging self-regulation, as seen with the IAB’s Native Ad Playbook.

4. Native will Be More Data-driven

Successful native campaigns will be heavily reliant on the data and insights gleaned from programmatic initiatives. This means that understanding how creative functions and drives programmatic performance will become increasingly useful in planning native campaigns.

Programmatic Buying


1. Buyers will Grow into Tech Experts

As automation and programmatic continue to take center stage, media buyers will become increasingly technology-proficient to interpret data and provide strategic insight to clients.

2. Premium Programmatic will Be Key

The industry is still confused about what programmatic, and especially premium programmatic, really means. As more and more publishers adopt programmatic strategies in 2014, the emphasis will shift from understanding the medium to progressing it. This means more emphasis on “premium programmatic,” mobile, video, etc.

3. Marrying Programmatic and Native

2014 will be the year we see native and programmatic begin to court one another. In 2013, we created a false dichotomy between the two formats, with native on one side, programmatic on the other. Rather than separate the two, we need to understand how they can work together, plugging each other’s gaps—scale and quality, for example—to improve message delivery.

4. Direct Sales will Go Programmatic

With more dollars moving towards programmatic buying channels, I expect greater pressure on the direct sales teams in the New Year. As a result, one of the things we will see is direct sales teams working hard to acquire the skills and relationships needed to drive premium programmatic deals.

---

The future is obviously very bright for both native and programmatic. In 2013, they solidified themselves as key growth areas for the long-term. In 2014, however, we can expect evolutions in each category, with more synergy between the two to better deliver for advertisers, marketers, brands and publishers.

 

More...
Diane Schwartz

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer Answers to ‘Me, Me, Me’

Diane Schwartz Consumer - 01/08/2014-11:46 AM

 

Marissa Mayer was the emcee of her own keynote presentation at CES on Tuesday, deflecting the spotlight from her and onto the key people leading some of the changes at Yahoo. A packed theatre at CES welcomed the hour-long advertisement from the Yahoo CEO because, well, it was interesting and entertaining. It was about the most important people: us.
 
Whether it was David Pogue, the new vp of content, unveiling the Yahoo Tech digital magazine or Katie Couric, the new global anchor for Yahoo, talking about the importance of trust-worthy journalism, Mayer made sure the key takeaway for stockholders (and us) was that Yahoo was innovating, pivoting and rejiggering for none other than us. Yahoo is a platform customizable to your habits, so much so that it just acquired a service called Aviate that predicts which apps you’ll need at any given moment and moves them to your homescreen (we don’t have time anymore to swipe to the next screen).
 
The CES audience, which comprises what Pogue called "the Geekheads" versus 85 percent of everyone else, “the Normals”, wanted to hear what Yahoo has done to become relevant again and what it will do to become more useful. As is evident in the 3,200+ exhibits at CES this year, technology is complex and the choices for how we spend our time are abundant. Yahoo and other brand leaders are answering the call to give us what we want when we want it.
 
Mayer’s goal could mirror most brands’: to turn “complexity into clarity.” For Yahoo that means focusing on four key areas: Search, Communications, Digital Magazines (mini-sites, not actual magazines) and Video. Its acquisition of Flickr and Tumblr validate what we already know to be true: that photos and storytelling are the future, and most likely on your mobile device. Its hiring of Katie Couric sent a message to its community that a quality interview requires a great interviewer. A few SNL "Weekly Update" cast members, plus a John Legend mini-concert—all during Mayer’s keynote—were crafted to showcase Yahoo’s coolness.   
 
Mayer and her cohort of presenters representing Yahoo wanted us to know that personalization and simplification are what we should expect from this media brand starting now. It should get many marketers and media companies thinking the same thing about their brands. The challenge is that being simple is not so simple.

 

More...
Jeffrey S. Litvack

So Your CEO Says You Need to Be A “Digital First” Publisher? Part 6

Jeffrey S. Litvack B2B - 01/02/2014-10:45 AM

 

In earlier posts, I wrote about the value of having a mobile app for your brand, and briefly touched on the associated marketing and sales challenges. In this post, I’ll dig deeper into how to successfully launch an app and build an audience.

See Also: So Your CEO Says You Need to Be a "Digital First" Publisher? Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Unlike the Web, publishers cannot passively accumulate an app audience, but rather need to take a very active role in driving downloads. The adage, “If you build it they will come” doesn’t hold true for apps. The reason for this is that app stores are islands unto to themselves and the benefits of the open Web (i.e., people stumbling upon your app via search) aren’t available. Compounding this issue are App Store discoverability challenges, including:

Limited Search Identifiers. Search in app stores is based on a limited number of key words that you select when you upload the app, rather than the metadata associated with the content/articles themselves. Google just started testing the ability to index and deep link into an app with the release of KitKat but the outcome is questionable, while Apple doesn’t even offer such capabilities.
 
Too Many Apps per Category. The idea of a user browsing a category (say news) and finding your app is laughable because of the sheer number of apps in any category (i.e., 26,134 apps in the news category alone). Simply put, there are just too many apps for people to browse through. 

Ranking Is a Chicken and Egg Problem. An app’s rank in a store (both for search and by category) is generally dependent upon its rating, but without any downloads the app starts at the bottom of the list. As such, the act of putting an app in an app store doesn’t guarantee any downloads.

Given these discoverability issues, when launching an app you need to have a well-thought out marketing plan. The good news is that as media companies we have a certain advantage over others in that we have media channels available to us that we can leverage to drive app downloads. These “free” channels include running print ads, email ads, online ads and mobile Web ads in publications we control. To drive the most downloads, your media plan should include all of these free channels as well as paid placements on competitor sites/apps (if you’ve got some extra marketing dollars lying around). Three tips to keep in mind are:

Calls-to-Action on Mobile Devices Work Best. In my experience, the most effective tool in driving downloads is to pop-up a “download now ad” when the user goes to your mobile website. The messaging in these “ads” simply ask the user if she’d rather view the content via your app or via the mobile website. This is not so much a marketing exercise, but rather a product development exercise.

Print Ads Require Short-Codes. If you are going to use offline (e.g., print) ads to drive downloads be sure to use a “redirecting” short-code that’s easy to use and remember (e.g., at.law.com/apps), rather than the full appstore URL.

Make Money From the “Download Ads”. If you’re smart about leveraging the marketing channels you already own and have a good sales team you can also turn a “download ad” into revenue by packaging it with a sponsorship opportunity. This has been a tried-and-true approach for us at ALM where we’ve sold compelling sponsorship packages to advertisers that combine offline and online channels. These ads typically say something like “Download the new XZY app brought to by ABC” with the sponsor’s brand effectively incorporated into the ad.

To sum things up, driving downloads takes time and effort.  With hundreds of thousands of apps out there, building an audience is as much a function of your marketing efforts, as it is the value of the underlying app.

More...
Antoine Boulin

For Publishers, User-Generated Content is The New Opportunity

Antoine Boulin Consumer - 12/18/2013-14:32 PM

Years ago, user-generated content (UGC) was typically perceived as "low-quality" media, or at the very least, "lowbrow" entertainment. While the bite-sized content was often engaging, if not inspired, brands tended to shy away from it in fear that an unsavory YouTube clip or crazy cat meme wouldn't sit well--or neatly--next to their carefully crafted brand message.

That's no longer the case, though--not when 80% of online content today is user-generated. Social media and self-publishing tools have created a glut of online amateur content while also increasing the overall quality of the material. As a result, we've seen a sea change in the way publishers work with and integrate UGC onto their sites, and the way they sell it as a value-add for brands.

Smart publishers have found ways to produce professional content, while also tapping their communities to enhance that content with their own. Also, more publishers now have a reputation platform in place allowing them to surface the best UGC and gather a wealth of data on the best experts in their communities. By doing so, publishers get brand-safe material to leverage-and opportunities for new revenue in the bargain.

Still, it's a nascent, unique model that only a handful are embracing effectively. Here are, in my view, the top three.

BuzzFeed

Most everything about BuzzFeed is highly curated, user-generated content. From the imagery and videos in the actual posts, to the recently launched BuzzFeed Community, BuzzFeed has made UGC the cornerstone of what's become a very successful and now profitable business.

The potential promise in BuzzFeed Community, however, from both a branding and revenue perspective, is especially fascinating and, I think, an eye-opener for online publishers.

Launched in May, BuzzFeed Community is a platform for readers to submit their own BuzzFeed-branded or styled pieces. It's basically a user-generated content pipeline. But if you think of it from a brand advertising point of view--the best user-submitted pieces are featured on the site's homepage and down the road BuzzFeed could possibly repackage that content for "reader-first" native advertising--it's ripe with potential.

Gawker

Gawker Founder Nick Denton has been referred to as "the most disruptive force in online media right now." When you look at what Gawker is doing in the space today, with respect to both its brands and own technology, that's not an exaggeration.

Like BuzzFeed, Gawker has blurred traditional boundaries between reader and writer. The company recently developed its own proprietary commenting system, for instance, deploying it across its portfolio of sites and empowering its audience to be all things at once-"a writer, an arbiter, an editor, and a publisher." It turns publishing on its head and, similar to BuzzFeed Community, could evolve into reader-driven native ads.

Gawker is monetizing standard comments, too, turning them into native ad experiences of their own through brand-sponsored discussions within a page's comments section.

Beyond native, though, Gawker also plans on leveraging UGC as an affiliate marketing opportunity. If you look at their terms of use, Gawker says that they "will insert affiliate links into your content where it makes sense," making UGC an actual revenue source.

Forbes

On the surface, Forbes and UGC may seem like an odd pairing. When you think of Forbes, its pedigree and authority as a venerable professional publisher is what stands out. But if you look closely, Forbes is innovating the use and value of UGC online.

In 2011, Forbes debuted a "Called Out" comments feature on Forbes.com, a social layer beneath every post's headline that surfaces selected conversations between the post's author and individual readers/commenters. It's a tool that points to the "best" UGC.

At first glance, this was a fairly simple feature-add, built to generate engagement across the site. But, when paired with Forbes BrandVoice, Forbes' branded content platform for paying advertisers, it becomes much more than that. "Called Out" comments deliver a relationship-building tool for brands within native pieces, while also allowing brands to highlight on-brand comments as a form of third-party validation.

As a result, comments become another asset that Forbes can market to advertisers, making their overall offering that much more attractive to potential customers.

The Future-Role Reversal

As UGC has grown into a significant value-add for brands, UGC-first networks are also trying to evolve as publishers to take advantage. Take LinkedIn, for instance.

While it started as a social networking site, LinkedIn's success with its Influencers content submitted by power users has gained considerable attention among specialty publishers. It shows how engaging lightly edited, user-generated content can be when coupled with the right user base and tools, and how blurry the line is between "traditional" publisher and social networking community. To further blur these lines, the company's ability to cull data from its members' profiles allows it to work as an aggregator of professional content and push stories to us with better performance than a traditional publisher.

In fact, LinkedIn reports an eight-fold increase in traffic to all its news products since Influencers was launched earlier this year, with many posts recording more than 100,000 views.

And LinkedIn isn't the only UGC-driven network making headway in the publishing category. Medium and Quora are also making moves that spell greater ambitions in this area and that could pay off down the road.

Moving forward, pure community content can still be tough to trust (see: Yelp and Amazon). It takes a smart publisher that can blend together a variety of disciplines--content, technology, community moderation, audience quality, advertising, etc., to make UGC work. But, when done right, it translates into significant upside for those publishers and their advertising partners who recognize user-generated content as a real opportunity.

More...
Roy Beagley

Sourcing Controlled Subs From Your Website

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 12/17/2013-14:58 PM

 

One of the best ways of reaching your market is via your own website. I know this sounds obvious, but it always surprises me the number of controlled magazines that do not have a new subscription offer on their site. In some cases this is because the magazine’s rate base is very healthy, but in this day and age of reduced budgets this is the exception rather than the norm.

I visit many websites during the course of a week, and there is no real happy medium. You either get no subscription offers at all, or so many that every time you go to a site,
any good cheer gained at this time of year is well and truly lost.

If you are making multiple offers via your website, keep them under control otherwise you will scare people off. There is nothing more annoying than navigating to a page, only to get an offer for something you don’t want that is replaced by an offer for something else you don’t want when you close the page on the first offer. The record so far stands at seven offers, and by the time I was able to rid my life of all these offers, I had forgotten why I had gone to the website in the first place—and have not been back since. Actually, I lied, there is one thing more annoying. Going to the same website and getting the same “literature” every time.

Control your offers including when and how people see them. Any circulation or audience development professional that does not liaise with the IT department on at least a weekly basis is missing opportunities and more importantly probably losing orders. Being able to react to news relating to your business is key, especially if it is “hot” news. Taking quick advantage of breaking news can be handled with a 250 x 250 ad on the website that circulation or audience development can upload themselves; early birds catching worms comes to mind. You know what I mean!

Make sure your offer can be seen efficiently on mobile devices. Some advertisements I have been exposed to have rendered my mobile phone immobile. I know it sounds obvious, but there is nothing worse than an Englishman with an immobile mobile—Sting might even write a song about it. There is only so much any one person can take, so make sure you do not overplay your hand, or else you may well find your prospect is going somewhere else (and despite paywalls, there usually is somewhere else) to get the information you yourself offer.

 

More...



CONNECT WITH FOLIO: NOW
         


CAREER CENTER dots icon

UPCOMING WEBINARS



RECENT WEBINARS