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Publishers, This Is Your Ticket to Content Diversity

Sometimes 2018 has felt like a broken record. It seems every industry shift this year has been a result of Facebook's friends-and-family algorithm change. The January update put publishers on a scrambled path to diversify their distribution strategy, and in turn, the entire digital ecosystem changed its course. For one, search made a comeback, and that's been an exciting change. It's invigorating because it's a signal that readers are willing to consume content outside of the platforms — a shift from the tug of war we've been seeing these past few years between brands, new media companies, and platforms that are all trying to claim the upper hand.


But publishers are still trying to navigate exactly how to diversify their content away from platforms, including Google. BuzzFeed News CEO Ben Smith recently told Digiday that there is no "silver bullet" strategy for mature media companies looking for the right way to prioritize the platforms. Each and every web property needs a diverse business model to grow. "We were very dependent on Facebook in 2013. We've become steadily less dependent on them. Our strategy is to figure out quality news on every platform," Smith said.

BuzzFeed News' mission to find the right way to deliver their content on every platform is what publishers should be focused on as 2018 comes to a close. It's quite the puzzle to figure out exactly how to prioritize social channels and content outlets, and sometimes the data can be confusing.

Diverging Data

Content creators for brands, new media companies, and news outlets already have a lot on their plate. They need to not only create quality content, but also stay on top of their readers' emotional temperature with the platforms. While data shows that users check social media primarily to keep up with friends and family, 41% still say they use social to check out the latest news — and that can include updates from any type of page they follow. Let's take a look at the latest shifts in social, and the strategic questions they ask.

Video: The pivot to video created a shockwave throughout the publishing world. But the dramatic all-in strategy shift proved to be misguided in the end. Nearly two years later, confidential information made public in October 2018 revealed that Facebook may have grossly overblown metrics when the rush to video first began.

Still, recent data indicates that video ad revenue now accounts for 25% of all digital advertising in the United States. The report from eMarketer shows Facebook and Instagram's video ad revenue will make up around twice that of YouTube's, at $6.81 billion. YouTube is positioned to make $3.36 billion this year. So should publishers be focusing on a video monetization strategy?

Chart from eMarketer.

Instagram: While this year has been rocky for Facebook, 2018 has definitely been the year of Instagram. IGTV launched to give YouTube a run for its money, and Instagram Stories began to race ahead of Snapchat. This year, the platform served as a reprieve from Facebook, with less content saturation and a more personal, easier-to-understand algorithm. The viewership speaks volumes, too.

Check out these figures from PR Daily:

  • Instagram has more than 1 billion monthly active users (MAUs) or more than 13% of the Earth's population.
  • The typical user spends an average of 55 minutes per day on Instagram.
  • User engagement is 58 times bigger on Instagram compared to Facebook, and engagement per follower is 120 times more compared to Twitter.
  • 72% of Instagram users have bought a product they saw advertised on the app.
  • Instagram currently has over 25 million active business profiles.

With such impressive stats — 55 minutes per day using one app! — should your content strategy prioritize Instagram?

Facebook: Facebook's crazy year has been well documented. Thanks to the Cambridge Analytica scandal and #DeleteFacebook movement, the platform has had a hard time regaining trust. Regardless, it's where a lot of everyone's audience lives.

In August, Facebook went down for nearly an hour in Europe and North America. According to Chartbeat, during that time direct traffic to news sites increased 11%, and search traffic to news sites increased 8%. This illustrates how much of a massive audience there still is on Facebook. It's an audience that doesn't just read news, but is also willing to engage with quality content that's relevant to their interests.

With so much traffic living on Facebook, should you still be spending time and resources figuring out the tricky ways to grow organically and monetize on the platform?

The answers to these questions lie in the hands of publishers.

What's the Right Answer?

While the data and messaging may vary around the social climate, one thing is clear: People are still consuming content on the platforms. It's why Apple News is trying to court more publishers who have grown cold toward Facebook. Despite Apple News' efforts, publishers are still wary, citing this common problem with the platforms:

"Working with platforms is a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't proposition. Publishers don't want to invest a lot in a platform, only to get little audience or revenue in return. On the other hand, if things go too well, the publisher is dependent on the platform that calls the shots, putting a lot of its business at risk if the platform makes a business decision that adversely affects the publisher. Publishers are aware of being burned before and have wised up."

—Lucia Moses, Digiday

With publishers wising up, and platforms still controlling a large audience block, where does digital go in 2019?

Answer #1: The Right Technology

The easiest answer is to create content on a full-stack tech solution that's designed for both social distribution and sustainable site growth. As we enter the next year, there can no longer be two separate boxes: tech and strategy. They have to work together to navigate algorithm changes, fickle readership, and complete platform disruptions.

Answer #2: Don't Give up on Platforms Entirely

At RebelMouse, we power media properties that are growing tremendously on Facebook. Instead of discrediting the platform entirely, we've leveraged the audience that still lives on it. We recently were able to experiment with video in Instant Articles to not only grow engagement, but web traffic and SEO, too. It's how we merge mediums to maximize their potential.

We have other clients moving the needle with subscription models, content hubs, and community-based networks. The answer to the questions above isn't about where to prioritize, but rather how to cater each piece of content to the platform or medium that makes the most sense for your business. It requires a deep understanding of your site's own universe of creators, and leveraging their passion to build organic loyalty and real audience growth.

A snapshot of how RebelMouse clients grew on Facebook in 2018.

Answer #3: Mix up Monetization

Diversifying also means not relying on a single-layer monetization strategy. Instead of investing in internal development teams and a custom, in-house CMS, it's important to focus on lean tech that will solve all your problems at an enterprise level without legacy costs. RebelMouse is a lean-tech solution that cannot only create a fully customizable site, but also can give you developer guidance, design, content strategy, and, most importantly, free up resources to allow you to experiment with new revenue streams.

By blending tech and strategy, our clients aren't vulnerable to the whims of the platforms. Distribution and content diversification is built into our product. Our CMS is structured so every article is set up for success on site, search, and social, and optimized completely by the content creator. Get ahead of the next big pendulum swing in this tumultuous ecosystem that's bound to change many times more in the coming year. Request a proposal to see how we can help you today. We also offer our traffic-focused strategy services without the need for a full site replatform.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Inside RebelMouse’s Quality Assurance Operations

How We've Perfected Stress-Free Publishing

At RebelMouse, we like to refer to our enterprise publishing platform as "lean tech." Most publishers have a natural inclination to start doubling down on teams of developers who try to build unique experiences to help stand out above the noise. But they should actually be doing the opposite: Lean tech is the preferred way to cut through content saturation. By allowing RebelMouse to obsess over your product, content producers, editors, managers, and everyone in between can focus on creating quality content and taking advantage of opportunities to leverage distributive publishing strategies that create real revenue growth.

One of the major reasons we're able to maintain a lean tech environment is thanks to our approach to quality assurance (QA). We make updates to our platform daily to ensure our clients always have access to the most robust, high-performing, and secure version of our platform. Behind the scenes, this means having a solid QA structure that's efficient, creates less bugs, and catches the ones that do pop up before they go live. It's a system of checks and balances that's hard and costly to replicate on a custom CMS. Here's a glimpse into how it works.

Our Tech Stack Toolbox

  • Cucumber
  • Java
  • Junit
  • Maven
  • Selenium WebDriver
  • TeamCity
  • Zalenium (Selenium Grid)

Our Checks and Balances Workflow

Automated Regression Testing Cycle

The Lifecycle of a Product Update

When an update is first made to RebelMouse, TeamCity immediately triggers the start of automated tests to review integrity.

TeamCity Build

TeamCity Agent

The tests run in parallel on TeamCity's Build Agent. Next, Zalenium creates docker containers with browsers that matches the count of parallel threads. An Allure report is then generated from the test results, which shows the state of the application after the update.

Allure Report Pass

If a test doesn't complete successfully, the testing framework receives a video with a failed test and attaches it to the Allure report.

Allure Report Issue

Based on the report analysis, a QA specialist will create a "bug" ticket in our product management software to address the issue if needed. Then, information about the bug is immediately sent to the project manager and we begin the process of correcting the problem.

The media powerhouses we power can publish with confidence knowing that any product issues that arise are met with a tried-and-true process to fix the problem with little-to-no disturbance to their workflow. If you have any questions about this process, please email support@rebelmouse.com.

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Related Posts vs. Posts in Assembler

Here's the difference between Related Posts and Posts in Assembler.

By using Related Posts and Posts in Assembler, you can help your audience stay engaged with your site's content and generate more traffic. Both of these features can be added to any post through Entry Editor.

When creating or editing a post, you can add a Related Posts section to the bottom of it that consists of a selection of existing posts on your site that you choose to surface. Only the main image and content headline are pulled, along with a link to the original post. This is similar to the Around the Web section that also shows up at the end of your post when you enable it from the SEO tab of Entry Editor.

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Site Accessibility on RebelMouse

In today's digital world, it's more important than ever to ensure that your website is accessible to all users regardless of any disability they may have. Google recognizes how important this is, and now includes an accessibility score in their PageSpeed Insights tool to alert site owners when their site's level of accessibility is not up to par.

Although website accessibility does not directly impact page speed scores, it's quickly becoming an industry standard amongst forward-thinking companies. One key way to ensure your website is making the accessibility grade is through the use of Accessible Rich Internet Applications, or ARIA for short.

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