Subscribe to Our Newsletter

x

As Publishers Look to Diversify, Google News Makes Meaningful Changes

Cleaning up After Cambridge Analytica

More than halfway into 2018, the dust has only begun to settle following the Cambridge Analytica scandal that rattled Facebook and its legions of users. The massive data breach didn't just impact the platform — the repercussions also leaked into every corner of the digital ecosystem, affecting everyone. The scandal put a spotlight on the need for the platform giants to take more responsibility as powerful distributors of information, particularly in the realm of news. Now, as Facebook makes constant changes to protect their users' data and prevent the spread of more fake news, its co-chair in the duopoly, Google, has made moves to step up its own game.


In March 2018, the search engine first announced the Google News Initiative, a $300 million investment over the next three years to stop the spread of false news stories. In July 2018, Google announced that it would devote $25 million of the investment specifically to YouTube. Google will provide grants to credible news sources to help them create a sustainable video operation, and to expand their own team of experts to help news partners on the platform — among other YouTube-specific initiatives.

Google also announced in July new campaigns powered by artificial intelligence to optimize ad creatives and streamline ad rotation. Read more about these updates here.

Throughout the spring, Google announced several updates to the Google News app that leverages artificial intelligence to fight fake news and create a more personalized experience for readers. Here's a look at what was rolled out.

For You curates five of the most relevant headlines based on a user's interests, which is usually a mix of breaking, local, and topic-specific stories. User controls help the app learn more about each reader's interests, so the algorithm delivers more relevant results over time.

The "For You" feature on Google News. Image from Google.

Full Coverage allows users to explore a topic through multiple outlets, including other news sites, opinion pieces, and social commentary.

The Newsstand helps users explore every publisher available on Google News. And by using the Google Subscribe feature, readers can also subscribe to news publisher with one click when they discover them.

The Future of News Distribution

The changes Google made to its news offerings this year comes at a turbulent time for the platforms. With a spotlight on transparent and responsible journalism, Google News needs to appease two parties: Publishers need to be won over with a successful distribution strategy, and readers need to be assured that they're using a platform that's a safe place for the latest headlines.

The newest numbers from Pew Research Center show that 93% of Americans get at least some of their news online. This includes both legacy news outlets such as The Washington Post, and new media political sources such as Axios. It's a competitive market not just for the outlets themselves, but also for the audiences they're trying to capture. It's why some publishers feel unnerved to turn over their content to third-party applications like Google News.

Regardless, the ongoing shift to digital doesn't mean news outlets — legacy or otherwise — can't have a reputable news business on the platforms and still generate revenue. What the rise of digital does mean is that the focus has shifted to the reader. With endless opportunities for content, the reader now plays a key role in not only what they consume, but how they choose to consume it.

Richard Gringras, Vice President of Google's News Division, cites this shift as what some have called "the democratization of news." The term refers to "a shifting philosophy in how a news organization engages with the community we once thought of only as 'the audience.'"


Richard Gringras talks about the future of journalism in Italy.

This is why it's important for publishers to make good use of every outlet available for distribution, including Google News. Whether it's in a publisher's strategy to pursue a subscription-based, donation-based, or purely ad revenue-based model, the content still needs to be freely accessible via the way their audience prefers to find it. Otherwise, it's likely to get lost in the oversaturated market.

How We Can Help

Google's changes this year show a renewed priority toward user experience, a key component in building loyalty. Even if Google News isn't right for your particular strategy, it's a good reminder that platforms are making meaningful changes to help publishers and the communities they hope to reach.

At RebelMouse, we can help your content travel across platforms like Google News, even if you aren't using our CMS. We're a team of traffic junkies who help make sure your distribution strategy caters to your content so you can reach your maximum audience with every publish.

Request a proposal today and let's start working together.

Articles Referenced

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