Subscribe to Our Newsletter

x

2018: A RebelMouse Year in Review

From product to personal, we flourished on every level.

It's always overwhelming to think about how far we've come as a company every time December rolls around. From all the peaks and valleys our ever-changing industry likes to throw at us, to the personal triumphs and challenges we experience as a team, each year is always one to remember. But this time, 2018 took the cake. It was 365 days of twists, turns, and far more shining moments than ever before.


For the digital publishing ecosystem, it was a turbulent year overall. But we're proud to have navigated it successfully alongside our clients, audiences, and colleagues to come out on top. We had a year of fun, explosive growth both company-wise and personally as a tight-knit team that just happens to live all around the world. Here's a look back at this momentous year in RebelMouse history.

January: Rising Above Facebook's Doomsday Algorithm Change

Facebook's so-called "friends and family" algorithm update at the start of 2018 charted the course for the rest of the year. While the deprioritization of news in Facebook's News Feed resulted in devastating shutdowns for some publishers who relied heavily on the platform, we knew early on that the sweeping change would be an opportunity for publishers — and it was.

Making sense of the new way to publish was an exciting time for an enterprise-grade publishing platform like RebelMouse. While we've always embraced social and the audiences they bring, the algorithm change allowed us to fall in love again with areas that also fuel growth, such as search and site performance. In 2019, it's going to be gratifying to continue watching the decline of platform dependency, because we think publishers should take back control of their content and revenue.

February: Understanding the New Content Lifecycle

As the hangover from Facebook's algorithm shift began to wear off, we took stock of what the social ecosystem looked like in its aftermath. It was actually quite positive. At RebelMouse, our developers have been preparing for massive shifts like Facebook's update since we launched back in early 2012. Born in the age of social, our product has adapted nicely to the countless pendulum swings the tech giants have thrown at us.

We quickly realized it was time for publishers to go all in on a new kind of content lifecycle that included leveraging the universe of creators that already exist. As engagement became the new metric to watch on social, we optimized our own tools that identify social influencers with every publish. Using the power of content that resonates with audiences, we knew publishers, especially our clients, would rise above any algorithm uncertainties through identifying organic audiences who already had a passion for their message. The net result? It worked. Throughout the year, our clients saw massive growth across social, especially on Facebook.

March: The Launch and Growth of La Verità

Throughout 2018, we were able to showcase the vast and diverse portfolio our platform can cater to, from new media powerhouses to legacy brands, and even traditional print publications. The Italian newspaper La Verità was looking to take their popular newspaper into the digital age while still maintaining the trust of their longtime readers.

We were able to use our Social UX design coupled with a customized subscription model to not only bring in sustainable revenue for the media company, but also deliver a positive user experience for their readers. As users and publishers grew weary of the platforms, the stigma of employing a paywall dwindled in 2018, giving La Verità the opportunity to become a true case study for the power of subscriptions —a trend that should be closely watched in 2019.

After launch, La Verità experienced a 74% increase in returning visitors, and new visitors increased by 115%! La Verità is averaging 14 pages per visitor, far above the industry standard. Nine months after launch, the Italian publication experienced an average of nine million monthly page views.

April: Powering the Best and Brightest in New Media

2018 brought no April showers for RebelMouse. We had two extremely exciting launches of new media properties: It's a Southern Thing and Motherly.

It's a Southern Thing was able to take advantage of our fast-loading, content-first platform to make viral stories like this one rack up 431K page views within the first seven days.

Similarly, Motherly experienced massive growth with users up 28%, sessions up 72%, and page views up a staggering 177% after launching.

While the metrics are impressive, these two launches were an important illustration of a successful strategy that is going to be crucial for publishers to follow in 2019. Both properties let go of their heavy tech investments, and instead focused their energy and resources on the content they create to get ahead in the new media landscape. At RebelMouse, our deep tech stack, creative agency support, and engineering team stepped in as their tech solution so they could prioritize their own voice and shine.

May: Introducing RebelMouse's Creators Network

In preceding years, the role of the publisher was typically isolated, and the inner workings of how content was created was confined to the hands of creators. Publishers once operated a behind-the-scenes news desk that designated content for its readers. Then came the internet and the rise of social. Now content is a gigantic whiteboard meeting attended by the entire populace of the digital ecosystem. There is no such thing as flat media anymore.

As we continued to optimize and adapt following Facebook's January algorithm change, we built a new product designed for fluid and dynamic media created by multiple creators. Because now that the platforms are no longer a sure bet, content needs to be set up for multiple avenues of success. RebelMouse's Creators Network is an intuitive collaboration platform that allows the creation and publication of each article to become a collective process between team members, influencers, and any other contributor that's part of your content creation process. From there, we debuted a new content workflow that leverages tagging, commenting, annotations, author roles, and rankings so that every stage of the publishing process is seamless.

You can check out RebelMouse's Creators Network live on Odyssey.

June: Creating Dev-Free Designs With Particle Assembler

The explosion of social put web design — and even home pages in general — on life support. And thanks to the continuous algorithm changes of 2018 that bogged down users and publishers alike, the concept of the website came back in full force. Publishers have clearly shifted from trying to rely on social ROI alone to once again creating a web experience that keeps readers on their sites.

Brands, new media companies, and publishers don't have the time or money to invest in expensive developer teams to build out beautiful, design-heavy websites. The new home page not only needs to be aesthetically pleasing, but also fast, nimble, and built for quick consumption. It's got to be easy. And even more importantly, its experience must be driven by content creators. This quickly became one of our missions for the year.

Our Particle Assembler is a content creation suite available right from within our Entry Editor. It breaks down every article into micro pieces of content, which we call particles (or a part of an article), that can be accelerated on social. While Assembler had been a part of our tool belt for awhile, we elevated it this past summer from a straightforward organization tool to a full-fledged design experience. Within just a few clicks, content creators on our platform are now able to create stunning designs that can feature multi-column layouts, parallax effects, full-screen takeovers, and more without the use of a dedicated developer. Our client PAPER Magazine took full advantage of Assembler 2.0 to bend the industry norms of site design.

July: The Return of SEO

More than halfway through the year, we were able to take a more comprehensive view of the results of Facebook's January algorithm update. And one of the most exciting changes we noticed was the resurgence of search engine optimization. Google edged ahead of Facebook as the primary source of referral traffic, and our sites began to experience the positive benefits of increased web traffic.

RebelMouse's CMS features proprietary technology that allows each article to be optimized to win a search phrase. The reversal in platform leaders not only gave sites another chance at control over their content and page views, but it also illustrated that users are willing to diversify away from the platforms.

Our unique SEO infrastructure is designed to secure a search win with every publish. Each article can be given a new search phrase to win, and our search optimization tools will help you optimize external links, URL slugs, and metadata to win your phrase. It's what has helped many of our clients reach page one on Google. It helped clients like Motherly increase referrals from Google by 1,164% and increase page views 2,018%.

August: United Airlines' Journey Contest

We had a lot of fun all year helping United Airlines create engaging campaigns for their content hub. Since travel naturally lends itself to amazing stories, United created a campaign and platform for travelers to share stories of their adventures and how United helped make them possible. The main impetus for the contest? Five contestants were given a chance to win one million free airline miles.

United received over 64,000 submissions from site and social in the form of videos, photos, and trip summaries. Not only were they getting spectacular engagement and raised awareness, but the submissions have now become a gold mine of premium content that United can now repurpose.

September: An Important Avatar Change

While our platform and the industry gave us plenty of adventure all year long, we had a few shining moments in our company's culture that are too important not to mention. Since RebelMouse launched in 2012, our avatar has been of a boy mouse. He's pretty cute and you can still find him all over our website. But on social, we took a step forward by changing our avatar to a girl mouse holding an LGBT pride flag.

This is particularly important to us because our CEO and founder, Andrea Breanna, is a trans woman who has a burning passion for bringing more women into the tech space. Secondly, the adorable girl mouse serves as a symbol of our company's dedication to inclusion for all individuals willing to work hard and form meaningful relationships beyond our platform.

October: Sharing Our Halloween Pictures

On a lighter cultural note, we had quite the teamwide email thread going on at the end of October that showcased pictures of our families all over the world dressing up for Halloween. While it may have seemed like normal routine for the time of year, it was instead a heartwarming illustration of the culture we value at RebelMouse. We operate as a fully remote company, with Rebels living all over the globe spanning multiple time zones.

One of our biggest company mantras is around the prioritization of happiness —meaning each member of the team has a responsibility to pursue what makes them happy at work and in their own environment. This means plenty of Rebel babies, traveling digital nomads, and everyone and everything in between. Our remote lifestyle allows every member of our team to live their best life possible.

Our culture of happiness also bleeds into our product and our attitude, allowing us to conquer what makes us smile — even if it's something as simple as getting into the spooky spirit of Halloween.

November: We Helped PAPER Magazine Break the Internet (Again)

Our team launched new functionality in November that lets our clients create quizzes and surveys with a professional design that's easy to use and even easier to monetize. PAPER Magazine used this new feature to put its iconic "Break the Internet" Awards to an audience vote.

The design was stunning, and resulted in over 900K votes.

December: Ending the Year With a Bang

The final month of 2018 was not slowed down in the least by the busy holiday season. A shining moment occurred when one of our idols, Ariana Grande, tweeted one of the results from PAPER Magazine's "Break the Internet" Awards. Her pet pig, Piggy Smalls, won the category for best celebrity pet. While it was well deserved for Piggy, we're still in shock that something we helped create and build was linked to by an A-level superstar we admire.

Onward to 2019

2018 brought us way too much to be summed up entirely in a recap post, but all in all it was a fantastic year for RebelMouse tech, culture, and our position as an industry leader. Every quarter was bigger than the last when it came to revenue, and we're excited to continue this growth alongside more sites and partners in 2019.

January 2018's Facebook algorithm update gave the entire internet an opportunity to wise up, including users, publishers, and the platforms themselves. On the whole, the space is positioned to enter 2019 with a focus on fast, nimble publishing experiences that do not cost as much as heavy, custom, and outdated CMS options that have been holding back publishers for years. We're excited to lead this fresh new movement in publishing.

Cheers to 2019!

Page Speed Is Crucial to Your Marketing Efforts

Most marketers don't prioritize page speed because they don't think it impacts their bottom line. However, page load has a direct impact on conversions and revenue.

Here's a very simple scenario, supported by industry data, to underscore why the way pages are built and powered is crucial for paid media initiatives and your overall business:

Let's say a paid media campaign drives 100,000 new visitors to a landing page that takes five seconds to load. Google says that 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. So of the 100K mobile site visitors you paid to bring to the page, ~50K are leaving immediately due to poor page performance alone.

Some studies even show that bounce rate increases approximately 100% for every two-second delay. So, if site load jumps to seven seconds, you'll pretty much lose all of the visitors your paid strategies brought in.

A Poor Site Experience Costs More Than You Realize

Page load plays a huge part in customer dissatisfaction, too. Continuing on with our previous example, let's classify the ~50K that didn't abandon the page as dissatisfied due to poor page performance. As HubSpot points out, 79% of them are less likely to buy again from the same website. That's ~40K visitors never coming back to the site due to poor page speed. The loss is even greater when you consider how valuable returning visitors are: They represent up to 48% of all transactions and spend almost 2x more than new visitors, according to Business Insider.

Plus, people love to spread the word about a bad experience, probably more than a good one. 40% of visitors who had a bad experience with a website's performance would tell a friend or a family member. So of your 50K dissatisfied visitors, 20K are talking negatively about your brand. If they tell only one person each, that's an opportunity cost of another 20K potential site visitors and customers.

The main takeaway? Your paid media has to work much, much harder when you neglect to optimize your site for performance.

Owned and Paid Media Should Work Together for Better Efficiency

And speaking of site improvements to help the bottom line, marketers can't overlook the value of owned content (e.g., articles, reviews, social feeds, etc.) and its impact on overall traffic and lead generation strategies. Sites tend to see significant lift in audience reach and conversion when content is paired with commerce: For e-commerce companies, content can account for up to 69% of total organic traffic. And, even more compelling, conversion rates have been 6x higher for companies that adopt content marketing.

RebelMouse's CMS makes it easy for brands to systematically optimize page speed performance and organic reach, which allows paid media to be more efficient.

RebelMouse allows clients to easily manage website layouts and components at any time, ensuring sites remain fast and are rewarded by Google and Facebook. Our platform features proprietary SEO tools designed to help clients optimize organic search with every post and better align paid and organic search strategies for increased efficiency. Similarly, our platform also includes proprietary social tools to organically build community and growth, and our data helps clients spot winning organic trends that can inform paid social media.

RebelMouse Is a Partner That Can Guide You

When it comes to content marketing, it's important to be mindful of the relationship between owned, earned, and paid media — it will only help your teams engage and convert more audiences into customers and brand loyalists. At RebelMouse, we're proud of how we work with brands and our ability to provide the expertise, best practices, and modern technology that help teams become better content marketers. If you're a brand marketer, feel free to reach out to us to learn how RebelMouse can help you be more strategic and effective in your content marketing efforts.

Related Articles

Target High-Value Users With Affinity Categories

Unlock valuable audience data and shape a new strategy

In today's landscape, quality content isn't enough — it's half the battle. Publishers need to produce shareable content backed by data to experience sustainable growth. At RebelMouse, we have a unique pageview methodology that provides an innovative user experience for every reader without sacrificing revenue and growth opportunities for publishers.

To do this, we track massive amounts of data across our platform through the use of custom-built Google Data Studio dashboards.

Click here to see the kind of growth our clients experience every day.

One of the best ways to discover more about your audience is by taking advantage of Affinity Categories. This feature breaks down audience demographics, including age, location, interests, and more. Affinity Categories are usually used to target audiences for ads, but we also use them to gain insights on what topics a site's visitors are interested in overall.

Normally, each category is listed out separately in Google Analytics. In the example shown above, our data experts split categories into separate levels to reveal different levels of audience depth. For instance, by splitting up the category News & Politics, we can better explore the detailed distribution of users interested in specific types of news:

  • News & Politics/Avid News Readers/Avid Political News Readers
  • News & Politics/Avid News Readers/Entertainment News Enthusiasts

From an editorial standpoint, this is useful because it allows publishers to determine and target varying levels of high-value users, improving the efficacy of a new content strategy or ad campaign.

If your site is already powered by RebelMouse, email support@rebelmouse.com to get a breakdown of your audience's Affinity Categories. If you aren't powered by RebelMouse yet, request a proposal today and start receiving the data you need to grow loyal followers at scale.

Related Articles

Infinite Scroll: An Innovative + Intuitive UX

There is a common misconception that publishers have to sacrifice monetization and professional design to deliver a high-performing, quality user experience to its readers. But in today's modern publishing environment, websites can deliver an unobtrusive site experience that's intuitive, elegant, and prosperous.

To do this consistently, RebelMouse supports infinite scroll as part of our bigger design strategy called Social UX for Media. Much like the news feeds of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, infinite scroll provides an endless stream of articles to its readers so they never reach the "end" of your content.

Infinite scroll is an innovative approach, but it is also a widely adopted standard that has been endorsed and is supported officially by Google, Comscore, Nielsen, and many other industry giants. It's part of a new media strategy deployed by companies with massive valuations and the highest level of visibility in the U.S. market, including Axios, Vice, and The Verge.

In fact, RebelMouse built and launched news powerhouse Axios, now one of the biggest new media companies to date, with our Social UX for Media design featuring infinite scroll. It's still a core part of Axios' successful publishing strategy today. The feature has also been key to the growth of many other RebelMouse-powered properties, including La Verità, Dance Magazine, and United Airlines.

RebelMouse's Social UX for Media design, featuring infinite scroll on hub.united.com.

The primary reason infinite scroll is so successful is because it mimics user behavior in an innovative, yet familiar way, thanks to its similarity to social feeds. On mobile, expandable posts make it easy for users to read "before the jump" and quickly expand to the rest of the article with one click, rather than being taken to another article page. This is similar to when a user expands a caption on Instagram. It's these simple design details that bring massive growth to key stats like return visits and time on site.

Our page view methodology not only keeps the user experience intact, it also includes robust ad serving technology. We use industry standard rules for page views that require at least 50% of the screen space to change before it counts as a new page view. So whether you use Comscore or Nielsen to verify your site traffic, infinite scroll will not have a negative impact on your insights.

If you're interested in launching a site with our game-changing Social UX for Media design, request a proposal today and let's start working together. If your site is already powered by RebelMouse, and you have questions about infinite scroll, email support@rebelmouse.com.

Related Articles

Particle Assembler: Ads in Slideshows Now Supported

You can now insert ads between slides in a slideshow!

Monetizing users' engagement and page views is pivotal to most digital businesses, and our Particle Assembler has been an invaluable tool in helping RebelMouse clients to insert native ads seamlessly into their content. Now we've taken this functionality one step further by introducing support for ads between slides in Assembler's slideshow layout.

Keep reading... Show less
Subscribe to Our Newsletter