Throughout the evolution of media on the internet, there's been a constant struggle between design that provides the best monetization of articles, and design that offers the best user experience. It's what has driven the adoption of ad-blockers from the perspective of users, and the promotion of crazy 40-page slideshows from publishers.
The secret to strong, lasting growth is to focus on a strategy that strikes a balance between the two. At RebelMouse, we've built our technology around making it turn-key simple for our clients to create and deploy content in a way that will do just that. We accomplish this by employing a proprietary mix of functions that abide by a set of core principles of user interaction. Here's a look at what we do and why.
Infinite Scroll, Particles, and the New Page View
The early days of the internet were dominated by web pages. They had a finite beginning and a finite ending. But social networks like Facebook and Twitter have shifted the way people interact with the internet by providing content in a waterfall feed where you can spend five minutes or five hours consuming content.
Media has always hit a bit of a snag with respect to this style of content delivery for a number of reasons. How do we track pageviews? How do we serve enough ads to keep the doors open?
While these are partially technical hurdles, they also require a bit of a philosophy change in the minds of media professionals. We can no longer debate whether we should switch to an endless scroll feed. We need to treat it as critical to our success. User retention hinges on the ability of your audience to binge content beyond what brought them to your site in the first place.
RebelMouse supports an infinite scroll feed of content that is mobile-friendly by using expandable posts. This way, your users don't have to scroll endlessly just to get to the content they would like to read. They can read the part of the post that is "before the jump," but instead of jumping to a new page, the story expands upon click to show the rest of the post.
That full post may take several forms: a short-form or long-form article, a listicle, a slideshow, or a combination. Because of this, we've created a simple framework for building your content called Particle Assembler.
We playfully call each piece of your content a "particle," which is quite literally a "part" of an "article." These particles have become the core unit of content authoring on RebelMouse, and are standalone elements with their own imagery, title, and copy. For example, you may have a post that is titled, "Top 5 Places to Eat in NYC." Each eatery in this listicle will have a lead image, the name of the restaurant, its location, and a description of the restaurant with even more images of food. All of these listicle items contain enough information to stand by themselves as single posts.
Because of their standalone nature, we assign particles their own unique URL, which fires a page view upon scroll, and is uniquely shareable on social. This approach to measuring pageviews is completely customizable, too, if you need something different from their default behavior:
- New Page View for Every Particle: Every particle can change the URL, and each will trigger a new page view.
- New URL for Every Particle: Every particle can change the URL, but they will not trigger new pageviews.
- No URL Change for Particles: Particles don't change the URL, and they will not trigger new pageviews.
This flexible approach to pageviews is an evolutionary change to the old tactic of paginating a multipart article to increase ad visibility. Our methodology keeps your user experience intact and includes robust ad-serving technology so your articles preserve your monetization strategy. We also use industry standard rules for pageviews 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, you can rest assured that it will be above board.
So, not only will you record a page view for the initial, collapsed view of a story, you'll also get pageviews for all of the particles within when a user expands it. Also, soon we'll be giving publishers the ability to control your own configuration depending on your environment and individual business needs.
The result is that you'll now be properly credited for all of your pageviews. Traditional infinite scroll designs on other CMSs are massively underreporting view counts by treating the entire feed of stories as one page view. With RebelMouse, you no longer have to choose between a great user experience and properly measuring your view data again.
The Real Goal Is User and Revenue Growth
The most important metric for media companies and content is the total on-target audience. It's important to us at RebelMouse that we're not just helping our clients take advantage of all the most sophisticated measurement systems and getting credit for the depth of engagement we create together. What we've found is that building engagement on a particle level — and creating unique URLs for this — creates a larger audience because it makes your content more shareable and searchable. It also creates valid and elegant monetization opportunities.
Platform Views: The Next Dimension
On-site pageviews are only a slice of the traffic pie. In the quest to make the internet faster and more accessible, the platforms have rolled out technologies to create clean reading experiences that load with lightning speed. Google has their AMP format and Facebook has Instant Articles, and both should be considered in the page view equation. These often times go overlooked because they're off-site views, meaning they're not actually served via your website itself.
RebelMouse makes it easy to integrate into these platforms seamlessly without any heavy lifting. We can also assist with monetization strategy for both.
Adding Meaning to Each Page View
By default, when sending a page view hit to Google Analytics, it's just that. A page view. You can gather some added insights like source/medium, as well as demographic information via Google's built-in functionality, but for media/publishing sites, it comes up a bit short out of the box.
Given that RebelMouse was born in the world of publishing, we look at things a bit differently. There is so much more to a page view on a media site that is worth tracking. With minor additions to our client's Google Analytics account, we send along custom dimensions for author, section, publication date, and layout. This allows us to do advanced analysis of site data so that we can provide full reporting to each client without the need to purchase a secondary analytics solution.
One Dashboard to Rule Them All
Having all of this data piped right into Google Analytics is nice, but the analytics platform can still be pretty cumbersome when filtering data on the fly for analysis. It also is limited to just seeing data from Google Analytics without bringing in other sources.
To get over these hurdles, we use another Google product to bring it all together in Data Studio. Our custom Data Studio reports allow us to provide an easy way to filter your data so you can get immediate insights that are actionable and then share them with anyone on your team, regardless of their knowledge of Google Analytics.
We can also provide in-depth analysis that isn't available in Google Analytics, such as moving average reports for pageviews and users over time. Seeing how your short, medium, and long-term trends are shaping up at a glance is critical to answering the question: "How are we doing?"
Data Studio also allows for the connection of multiple data sources, which means we can add in data from Facebook Insights, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Sailthru, and more. So instead of looking at your data in multiple places, it's all in one report.
Support your content with the insights that make a marked difference. Our in-depth Google Data Studio dashboards can help steer your content strategy, monetization efforts, and user experience toward a path of growth. Request a proposal today and let's start working together. And even if a replatform is not on your current road map, we can make sure your current site is equipped with the tools it needs to leverage metrics that fuel success.