The tech tug of war between publishers and the Facebook/Google duopoly is a never-ending power struggle. At the end of 2017, the two tech giants accounted for 90% of ad revenue on the internet. This year, the pendulum has begun to swing the other way thanks to Facebook's information scandal, which prompted both platforms to clean up their ad space and data management practices. The continuing scrutiny of the duopoly is a window of opportunity for publishers to take some of the power back.
Our Creative Agency
For Content Creators
RebelMouse is a creative agency with the best premium CMS (content management system) in the industry. We have a deep understanding of the ever-changing strategies and tactics for targeted organic distribution.
We deliver the right technology, strategies, and roadmaps that are vital to success in today's social-first world. Our clients are genuine about their content and recognize telling their story requires a modernized approach to distribution and growth.
For most digital publishers, it's almost like a ticking time bomb every time a new reader hits their site. There are only a few split seconds available to deliver a fast, quality experience. Otherwise, the reader will move on, and the chance to gain a new follower goes up in flames.
The explosion of social put web design, and even home pages in general, on life support. For the past several years, it seemed as if publishers and brands were going to live and die by the hands of the platforms. But as mounting algorithm changes have bogged down users and publishers alike, the concept of the website is coming back full force. There's been a shift from trying to rely on social ROI alone to once again creating a web experience that keeps readers on site.
The Precarious Pivot to Video
Like many things on the internet, the value of social video has taken a few sharp turns in recent years. At the end of 2016, the digital publishing climate seemed to be weathering an all-in video strategy storm. The shift was elevated when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the platform would embrace mostly video in the next five years, sparking layoffs at publishers — including Vox Media and BuzzFeed. The trend continued over the next year with the steady rise of short, readable videos, benchmarked by the success of Tasty and NowThis News.
As a direct result of the Cambridge Analytica user information scandal, Facebook announced plans to restrict data access on their platform. In what Facebook promises will be "many changes" in the coming months, the platform started by cutting off API access to Events, Groups, Pages, and Instagram for new developers. If a new developer wants to gain access to these APIs, they must first submit a request for a formal app review.
We've all experienced it. The dopamine-filled highs of watching site stats blast through the ceiling on our favorite web analytics platform after a piece of content goes viral. As digital publishers, it's in our blood to crave these spikes. But the sobering crash back to reality that follows, and the ensuing scramble to come up with the next piece of content that can match the previous peak, are seemingly inevitable. This constant seesawing is a frustrating and fatiguing experience, no matter the size of your budget or marketing team. What's a publisher seeking stability to do? Are we all targeting the right goals, or is there more here than meets the eye?
Enter Valley Elevation
Turns out there is more to your stats than just those towering summits. It's the concept of valley elevation, and it's been staring you in the face the entire time. Coined by Bradley Schwarzenbach and popularized by bestselling author Andrew Davis, valley elevation posits that you should be focusing on the depth of your metrics' troughs instead of its peaks.
It seems like a new Google update or algorithm shift is being detected every day, and we don't expect busy marketers to scour the internet looking for every last one. That's why we do our best to keep you up to date with every important platform initiative.
To avoid compromising reach and visibility on Google, it's important to understand the platform's ongoing updates and how you can incorporate them into your search strategy. Here's where we'll keep a timeline all year long of Google's major changes, and what each means for your business. Keep checking back through December!
If you're a content creator or social curator, you know all about the challenges tied to algorithm changes, industry shifts, and the ongoing fight to sustain reach in an oversaturated market.
At RebelMouse, we create lean tech that's built to iterate alongside these fluctuations. Chances are the CMS you're using was created before social. If that's true, you may still view content on your website and in social feeds as two different entities you have to control and manage. We're here to blur those lines for you and take publishing where it needs to be in 2018.
Diversifying revenue streams has evolved from a forethought into a complete necessity for publishers who want to successfully monetize in the age of social. From header bidding to Facebook Instant Articles and monetization on social, publishers are now turning to subscription models to convert readers into loyal, lasting users. Last year, the pivot to paywalls gained unprecedented traction. By the end of 2017, The New York Times had over 3.5 million digital and print subscriptions. Fast forward to today and you'll find that other big-name publishers — like CNN, The Atlantic, and Wired — have followed suit, looking to online paywalls and subscription-based models to alleviate their financial woes.
It's no surprise as to why they're doing this either. The duopoly that is Facebook and Google continues to dominate digital ad revenue. Not helping matters, Facebook recently dropped their major algorithm bomb that left publishers of every size scrambling. The subscription-based business model has suddenly become a safe bet.
The world of digital publishing has become a lot noisier. Both brands and new media companies are always looking for the next-best strategy to stand out in the feeds, catch eyes in inboxes, and win organic search to build sticky audiences. But what a lot of publishers haven't fully realized yet is that digital writing has completely changed. What was once all about "hooking" the reader to get that extra click or share has shifted. There's now an intense push for prioritization, personalization, and transparency. As digital readers become more savvy, they specifically seek out media sources that deliver engaging content quickly and clearly.
We've entered into a major shift in new media publishing. So far, 2018 has been a roller coaster ride of industry shifts for publishers, kicked off by Facebook's sweeping algorithm change in January that left brands wondering about the future of traffic growth and monetization on social.
The good news is that there's still plenty of opportunity for brands — both new and old — to put their communities on a growth path that delivers impactful revenue. And it's all about getting back to basics: The brand blog! While the idea of the blog has been around since the early days of the internet, the focus on community, as well as tech's ability to draw in audiences at scale, is peaking like never before.
We are a creative agency that innovates with deep technology. Our proprietary, cloud-based, next-generation CMS has fueled industry powerhouses, including The Dodo, Axios, and PAPER magazine. Founded by Paul Berry, the former CTO of The Huffington Post, our media-minded team of experts work closely with publishers and marketers to help their stories reach the right people, and to build experiences that create loyalty, engagement, and conversion.
Meme culture has come a long way. It started during the early days of the internet and matured from something a small group did online into the foundation of some of the biggest media companies today. Memes will never slow down, as the density of our information and social graphs grow, and the spread of messages across the world become faster every day, week, month, and year.
How companies are built around this culture is changing dramatically though. The last five years saw a massive rise of companies that were playing the meme-repurposing game. Combined with arbitrage, they were spending money on things people were likely to share and creating companies with multimillion dollar valuations. But the algorithms have shifted now, and these quick hits are no longer creating any kind of foundation to stand on.
Why lean tech is your ticket to monetization.
The concept of content distribution has done a few somersaults since the start of 2018. Facebook's family and friends algorithm shift in January put publishers in a panic about how to maintain visibility in the News Feed. Just a little over a month later, the popular new media company LittleThings shuttered its digital doors, citing a dramatic loss of its audience thanks to the algorithm change.
Become the center of the universe on your topic.
In today's digital world, organic growth is everything. The old pay-to-play mantra adopted by many publishers is putting them at the mercy of Facebook's temperamental News Feed.
If you want to survive the constant algorithm updates and technological changes, your focus must be on building a community that constantly sparks conversations among its audience. To do so, you have to connect with likeminded Facebook Pages and social profiles at scale, and that starts with quality content. But sometimes good content isn't enough. At RebelMouse, we have a saying: "If you create quality content without distribution, does it even exist?" That's why we created Discovery, an integral part of our suite of sophisticated enterprise-level tools. Using proprietary technology, Discovery is designed to help you figure out the social ecosystem that's already having conversations related to your content. But before you can reach out to potential influencers, your content has to be set up for distributive success.
It's worth finding the right strategy.
After making a huge wave during its rollout in 2015, some legacy publishers are now abandoning Facebook Instant Articles. In fact, more than half of the original launch partners for Instant Articles were no longer using the format in January 2018. For major publishers, Instant Articles has carved out a reputation of being hard to monetize and having limited insights. Still, Facebook announced that the use of Instant Articles grew 25% last year, with more than 10,000 publishers on board.While big-name publishers like The Washington Post may be abandoning Facebook's mobile format, there's still room for growth and revenue on the platform for both brands and media companies. Our RebelMouse clients are experiencing growth using the format every day. However, it does take careful testing and the right strategy to see ROI and audience increases using Instant Articles. If you're still struggling to find the sweet spot on Instant Articles, here are five common missteps that could be throwing off your strategy.