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.

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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.

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Google News Initiative Creates COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation Fund

The Google News Initiative launched a new fund to battle misformation about the COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 Vaccine Counter-Misinformation Fund is open to publishers all over the globe who reach audiences that are underserved by fact checking or targeted by misinformation.

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Google Opens up Its Question Hub to U.S. Publishers

There's no denying that the digital world suffers from an overwhelming amount of content, but there are still plenty of unanswered queries out there just waiting to be answered.

That's why Google created Question Hub. Previously only available in India, Indonesia, and Nigeria, the search engine recently opened up the hub to U.S.-based publishers. Question Hub collects unanswered questions from its search engine and makes the data available to content creators to help fill in the gaps.

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RebelMouse’s upLynk Video Integration

RebelMouse has partnered with Verizon Media on a new video integration. Verizon has a streaming platform called upLynk which THEOplayer uses as part of its video playback offering. THEOplayer allows users to play videos in different formats by integrating with different partners.

On RebelMouse, you can now search through upLynk's library for videos to feature on your site.

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Inside the Regions Dashboard

You can define different regions and languages on your site by using our Regions Dashboard. To access the dashboard, append the following to your site's URL.

r/dashboard/regions

The Regions Dashboard will look like this:

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How to Find an Image’s Original File Format

RebelMouse automatically converts images to Google's WebP format to optimize your media for site performance. If you need to convert an image back to its default file format, you can use a service like JWT.io.

To do so, first locate your image's current URL. Here's an example:

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RebelMouse + PostUp: A Guide to Our Email Integration

Email marketing is an effective way to reach your most loyal readers through a familiar medium. It's also a marketing trend that's gaining in popularity. In just the past 12 months, 78% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement.

At RebelMouse, we want to make sure that email campaigns are a seamless part of your content workflow. This is why we offer easy-to-use email integrations, including PostUp. PostUp is an enterprise email solution for publishers that you can read more about here.

Here's how our integration with PostUp works.

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RebelMouse + Pushnami: Increase Audience Loyalty With Traffic-Building Push Notifications

In today's competitive digital environment, acquiring customers is half the battle. In a world full of options, customer retention and repeat engagement is worth its weight in gold. It's estimated that just a 2% increase in customer retention is the same to profits as cutting costs by 10%.

RebelMouse is an enterprise-grade CMS platform that's dedicated to empowering editorial teams to build an on-site experience that's designed to retain audiences. Building loyalty means taking control of the distribution of content, and this means reaching readers wherever they are — even if it's on another site!

That's why RebelMouse is proud to offer an intuitive out-of-the-box integration with Pushnami within the RebelMouse experience. Our partnership has made it easy for publishers to leverage Pushnami's modern push notifications to secure new audiences and create repeat engagement with established followers.

Why Do Push Notifications Matter?

Push notifications increase website traffic because users are able to opt in to your messaging with one click — no email address required. Once a user opts in to your site's push notifications, they will begin to receive push notifications whenever their browser is open, encouraging them to return to your site.

Studies show that push notifications can increase conversions up to 30% more than other marketing channels. That's because push notifications let you target users that have already expressed interest in your site, which beats using a blind audience list for a display or search campaign. Knowing who your target audience is also allows you to craft the right messaging to get their attention, which results in a precise approach that cultivates more web traffic, more conversions, and, ultimately, more revenue.

What Is Pushnami?

Pushnami is the second largest push notification platform in the world, and is used by more than 20,000 sites all over the globe to deliver over 20 billion notifications per month.

Sites can grow their owned marketable database, tap into new monetization channels like a curated ad feed and push ad network, and scale their results by utilizing built-in machine learning models and campaign automations.

In fact, some Pushnami users experience a 30% increase in conversion rates and a 24% increase in traffic overall.

How Do Pushnami and RebelMouse Work Together?

Users can send Pushnami push notifications from RebelMouse's editorial interface. It just takes one tick of a checkbox to set up a push notification for an article, and another tick to send a second notification. This makes it easy for creators to incorporate Pushnami into a publishing workflow without ever having to leave our Entry Editor.

Where Can I Learn More?

If you're not publishing on RebelMouse and want to learn more about our next-generation publishing platform, click here. We'll be sure to walk you through the details of our Pushnami integration and other ways to grow your audience. To learn more about Pushnami, click here.

Live Events on RebelMouse

The unprecedented pandemic in 2020 turned the world of event marketing upside down. All over the world, if a scheduled in-person event wasn't cancelled, it was transformed into a digital experience. The trend isn't expected to fizzle after COVID-19 is contained, either. Data from Bizzabo found that 93% of event marketers plan to invest in more virtual events moving forward.

On RebelMouse, users can create scheduled events for live streaming. GZERO Media, powered by RebelMouse, made the most of our supported distribution platforms to host their virtual town hall "Reasons for Hope."

Here's a look at how events can be created on RebelMouse.

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