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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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Meet RebelMouse

Build on a better platform that supports far-reaching content distribution, impactful conversion, and unparalleled loyalty.

The world's largest companies trust us to power their global, multiplatform content experience. As a platform, we're now one of the largest in the world, reaching 50+ million people every month. As a creative agency, we build mass pop culture hits that grow organically to become household names — Axios and The Dodo, for example.

We work strategically with United Airlines and many other brands to establish the new media roadmap for their future and implement it. RebelMouse was founded by the CTO who built The Huffington Post. The founding vision and mission is still the same today: to be the right new media platform for both media companies and brands. It's working exceedingly well, and we're delivering some staggering results for our clients.

Read our latest deck here!

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How to Include Interactive Elements in Posts

Enhance your articles with rich and creative media

Every article is a fresh chance to grab new readers and nurture loyal followers. This is why we give creators every opportunity to build content rich with media elements that enhance every reader's experience.

Add More Layers to Your Content

You can easily add interactive elements, like charts, to posts on our platform. For example, if you need to embed iframe code into a post, this can be done via our Add Media Bar. To do so, click the code icon (< >):

A text box will appear so you can insert your code:

Embedded Code Across Platforms

One important thing to keep in mind is that Google AMP, AppleNews, and Facebook Instant Articles will not always support embedded code. So if you use an iframe, it's best to turn off distribution to those channels for that particular post. If you have a lot of posts that require embedded code, this could be problematic for growth across those important platforms.

If you do want to use an iframe on a post destined for Google AMP distribution, it can be possible if the iframe is not at the top of the page or within the first 75% of the viewport when the page is scrolled to the top (whichever is smaller). AMP is a fast technology designed for mobile users and iframes are loaded using arbitrary timing that AMP's technology cannot ensure. For this reason, it's suggested that iframes be included in places that are not visible by users upon load.

If you have an article that needs to include an iframe at the top of the page, or within the first 75% of the viewport, AMP can be turned off for that individual article within Entry Editor.

If you don't need an interactive chart to be interactive in nature, can turn it into an image and upload it directly to your post. This way it will work on all platforms, including Google AMP, Apple News, and Facebook Instant Articles. This option, when possible, is ideal to ensure you're optimized for page speed.

Take Advantage of Shortcodes

Another great way to embed media is through our shortcodes functionality. Click here to learn more about shortcodes. Shortcodes can also inserted using the Add Media Bar. Click the brackets icon ([ ]) to choose the shortcode you want to use.

Here's an example of a chart on an article page that's been inserted using a shortcode:

If you have any questions about how to add interactive elements to your content, please email support@rebelmouse.com or talk to your account manager today.

Shortcodes Dashboard: Dynamic Media in Just a Few Clicks

Create multidimensional content with easy-to-find shortcodes

We believe static media is dead, and that every piece of content should be multidimensional and engaging. This is why our platform enables creators so they can add dynamic media to their content in easy and efficient ways.

One simple way to add interactive content to any post is through the use of shortcodes. Shortcodes are small snippets of code that are easier to remember than longer sequences. They typically will activate a feature or embed media into an article.

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How to Add Scalable Vector Graphics to RebelMouse

Quickly add an SVG to any page

A Scalable Vector Graphic, or SVG, is a type of graphic format that gives you more flexibility than standard formats like JPEG or PNG.

To add an SVG to your RebelMouse site, first go to your Layout & Design tool. Next, open the SVG in a code editor and copy the entire <svg> element. Then, add a Custom HTML element to your layout and paste in the SVG code:

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How to Find Work-Life Balance as a Remote Employee

Tips from our CEO on making the most of an office-free lifestyle

Working from home is becoming increasingly popular, with an estimated 66% of companies now allowing remote work and 16% operating completely office-free. RebelMouse is one of those fully remote companies, and over the years we've mastered how to stay close to each other despite being spread across more than a dozen countries. We believe working remotely is good for both our personal lives and our productivity. Read more about this here.

Still, working free from the shackles of an office environment doesn't mean every day is a dance party in your pajamas from 9 to 5. Working from home comes with its own set of challenges just like any other job.

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