A New Model for Surviving as a Media Company

A Chorus Line of Failures: Mic's Layoffs Speak Volumes

Millennial-driven news publisher Mic laid off most of its employees, around 60 to 70 people, in late November 2018. The media company's remaining leaders then announced plans to sell the rest of Mic's assets to Bustle Digital Group for an estimated $5 million. In 2014, Mic raised $60 million in funding at a time when 70% of their traffic came from Facebook. The media property's collapse is another major loss in a lineup of publishers who went "all in" on failed distributive strategies, including frequent content pivots, that ultimately led to nowhere.


Expensive and Misguided: Where Publishers Went Wrong in 2018

Mic joins companies like Mashable, LittleThings, and Upworthy, all of which experienced dramatic layoffs at some point following Facebook's "friends and family" algorithm change in January 2018. The update, which deprioritized publishers' content in Facebook's News Feed, left companies like Mic with less than half their audience and a site that could no longer sustain growth on its own. Mic investor Jeremy Liew acknowledged this failure in a tweet shortly after the announcement:

Mic's "live by the sword, die by the sword" strategy is a common misstep for publishers, and not just on Facebook. The infamous pivot to video similarly had publishers going all in on an expensive strategy that turned out to be more of a marketing ploy for the duopoly (meaning more ad revenue in the hands of Facebook and Google) rather than a content medium valued by millions of users.

Another misguided pivot by publishers was investing in expensive, resource-intensive CMS platforms in an attempt to keep up with the increasing algorithm changes and industry shifts. But spending more money on custom tech, or relying on difficult-to-maintain, cookie-cutter site producers like WordPress to keep up with the tech giants, is also unsustainable, and deviates from prioritizing actual sustainable content strategies. It's why "Buy or build?" became a hot-button issue among industry leaders as 2018 drew to a close. Jesse Knight, the former Chief Technology Officer of Vice, recently unpacked this question, and suggested that it may be time for publishers to adopt a common publishing platform to effectively fight the media giants.

A united front would streamline common problems among publishers, which not only includes unpredictable algorithm changes on social, but also problems like Google's frequent updates to SEO rules that can often rerank sites with little-to-no warning. Instead, it would put costs back into where publishers should be focusing: Creating content that is valuable to audiences.

Performance and Practicality: What Publishers Need to Survive in 2019

The big publishers with high valuations will have to come to terms with the fact that it's time to replatform to a cost-effective solution that is massively scalable and customizable. The good news is that this change costs a fraction of their current budget. The largest media companies are paying $10 million or more to maintain a CMS that is dated. The financial forecast will no longer work for these companies if they remain on the same track.

For medium-sized publishers, the costs of survival are the same. With smaller budgets, their audiences will dwindle as the algorithms continue to deprioritize low-performing sites. The only path to survival is a cost-effective platform that can bring together all the costs that make the financials work while simultaneously having a state-of-the-art product.

RebelMouse was built to outpace the speed of the media giants. We give medium and small-sized publishers better technology and performance than what's offered to the media companies wasting $10 million a year to keep their WordPress and other custom platforms running.

The good news in all of this uncertainty is that users are now more comfortable with enduring a few more clicks (which used to be a fatal fate for a site during the initial rise of social) if it means they can consume the content they want quickly and without interruption. At RebelMouse, we've embraced this ideology through successful subscription strategies for our clients — the use of an effective paywall has actually increased both new and returning users for them.

A big part of regaining control of readership from the platforms (and expensive CMS platforms) is prioritizing page speed and performance. Users may be willing to take extra steps to get to the content they want, but they still have plenty of reasons to click away if the experience isn't perfect. Often times, expensive CMS options will overlook performance in lieu of more tangible features. We recently took a look at how major custom CMS options stack up against Google and our RebelMouse-powered sites. The results in our study might surprise you.

Full Service Tech: Invest Less in More Growth

RebelMouse is the kind of centralized solution that can solve many of the publishing industry's problems. Our CMS has fueled media powerhouses in nearly every industry. We've helped launch some of the biggest new media companies to date — such as Axios and The Dodo — and have propelled brands like United Airlines, PAPER Magazine, and Dance Magazine to success in the digital and social space.

The new year is bound to bring in more surprises from the platforms. Most brands and new media companies alike cannot produce quality content and stay on top of what is currently working and not working in the digital publishing space. But our publishing platform keeps up with the speed of the industry while still delivering a customized experience to optimize your content on site, and for search and social.

Stay on top of 2019, and set up your media property for modern success. Request a proposal today and let's start working together.

You're almost there! Fill out the form below and a Rebel will contact you within one business day.

x

Why RebelMouse Is the Best Content Marketing Platform

RebelMouse is a unique platform and company. The company was founded on the vision that media companies would need an always-modern solution to thrive in the new connected internet, and that brands would have to behave like new media companies and use the same platforms.

Keep reading... Show less

Making Sense of PageSpeed Insights and Core Web Vitals

Page speed and Core Web Vitals are an important piece of the SEO puzzle. Having a quick load time and passing Core Web Vitals are important factors in Google's search ranking and results. But there are multiple ways of testing your speed and vitals, and it can get very confusing to try and understand the results since different measuring tools can result in different scores.

Keep reading... Show less

New Feature: Stacking Sticky Elements

We always love to introduce new features to the RebelMouse platform, and today we're announcing a Double Sticky Bar. This will allow you to have two sticky elements at the top of your page, with the option to have one of the sticky elements disappear after a select amount of time. This can be very useful for an ad or banner you want to display briefly, and then be able to have the space back.

How Does It Look?

It's entirely up to how you want it to look, but here's an example screencast where we have an ad for our new book at the top, followed by a breaking news banner right beneath. You can see that as the page scrolls down, the behavior is set to have the ad removed after a couple of seconds of scrolling, and that it will reappear as the page scrolls back to the top:

Keep reading... Show less

RebelMouse Q2 2021 Platform Performance Updates

Q2 of 2021 was a big quarter for the open web. Google delayed their release of SEO ranking by CrUX report, and they changed their method for Lighthouse scoring drastically. Our team was a few steps ahead of these changes, and we were able to update our platform so sites in our network had little, if any, performance interruptions.

We invested over 1,592 hours into our platform in Q2 2021 alone, and all of the sites on our platform received the benefits of these updates. To break it down into large buckets, we invested in the following key areas:

  • 538 hours dedicated to new features
  • 725 hours dedicated to improving existing features
  • 329 hours dedicated to performance and infrastructure updates

Here are the major updates that we've added to the RebelMouse platform in Q2.

Keep reading... Show less

How to Use the Pagination Element

You can add pagination to section, tag, and archive pages using RebelMouse's Layout & Design Tool. This can be done through our Pagination element:

Using the Properties card, there are three options that you can configure on the Pagination element:

Keep reading... Show less

You're almost there! Fill out the form below and a Rebel will contact you within one business day.

x

New: Add Media Bar Now Supports More File Types

The Add Media Bar in our Entry Editor allows you to add rich media integrations to every post with just a few clicks.

Today, we're pleased to announce that Add Media Bar supports even more file types than before. Using the paperclip icon, you can now choose to upload Excel, PowerPoint, Word, PDF, and/or CSV files.

Keep reading... Show less

Google’s June 2021 Lighthouse Update Changes PageSpeed Insights Performance

Google updated how their PageSpeed Insights scores are calculated by releasing a new version of Lighthouse on June 1, 2021. Lighthouse is a tool built into Google Chrome that lets you know how well your site is performing against Google's standards for a better open web. At RebelMouse, our team keeps up with updates from Google closely, and reads all of their release notes and GitHub updates.

This latest upgrade to Lighthouse had a negative impact on one of our previous methods for loading JavaScript in the JavaScript element of our Layout & Design Tool. Performance scores dropped as much as 20–60 points for sites that were using the JavaScript element in its previous state. However, our team kept on top of Google's changes, and developed a new approach that we call the post Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) method. LCP is a metric in Google's Core Web Vitals that measures the time it takes to load the main content on a page. Our post-LCP method loads JavaScript immediately after the LCP event has completed. Thanks to this new approach, scores in our site network have largely stayed intact, and many of them significantly outperform the open web.

Keep reading... Show less

How to A/B Test Mailchimp Campaigns With RebelMouse

Mailchimp has a tool to A/B test campaigns on their platform. You can also use this feature through RebelMouse's native Mailchimp integration. Here's how it works.

First, you need to create a test audience in Mailchimp. We suggest creating one that consists of just your own email or internal team emails. Click here to learn more about how to create an audience in Mailchimp.

Once you have created your test audience, send the newsletter you wish to A/B test from RebelMouse to your newly created test audience. That way the newsletter will be saved to your Mailchimp campaigns on the RebelMouse platform. Click here to learn how to send a newsletter through RebelMouse.

Keep reading... Show less

Optimizing Tweets for Zero CLS Penalties

Tweets are a very popular embed for media sites. They can contain lots of information and drive lots of traffic, and we have worked very hard to make it super easy for writers and editors to embed them by simply dropping a link into our Add Media Bar.

Keep reading... Show less
Subscribe to Our Newsletter