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How to Thrive in a World Without Ads

Mike Mallazzo, Director of Marketing at Narrativ, recently wrote a post on Medium: "Life After Ads: The recent purchase of TIME should remind publishers of the power a strong brand can wield."

He discusses how some media companies are starting to question their total reliance on digital advertising. With Facebook and Google capturing the majority of revenue in the online advertising space, Mallazzo talks about how some companies are diversifying their revenue streams with models that depend on building loyalty and trust through subscriptions and commerce content in addition to just advertising. He writes:

"Media conglomerates have rediscovered the power of brand equity, offering the most plausible hope for sustainability since the proliferation of the internet."

At RebelMouse, however, we are still seeing digital advertising work. Our clients — such as Dance Magazine — are seeing huge success with digital advertising. But what if you were a media company in a world where traditional digital advertising didn't work at all? What would you do? How would you make money and continue to grow as a company?

The key is loyalty. You can't have a brand without loyalty.


One of our clients, the Italian newspaper La Verità, has seen tremendous growth using a paywall system combined with our proprietary CMS technology, which is specifically designed to engage readers and create loyalty. The stats reflect this growth in loyalty. In August 2018, their returning visitors increased by 74%, and new visitors increased by 115%! Using the infinite scroll design layout we call Social UX, La Verità is averaging 14 pages per visitor, far above industry standard.

Another client of ours, DiversityInc, has used our CMS technology to grow traffic and then capture B2B revenue behind a subscription paywall. This model works well because people want to be associated with the brand by virtue of what they stand for. In the past 30 days, they've seen returning visitors up 76% and new visitors 25%.

Mallazzo writes:

"Made popular by the likes of Wirecutter, GQ, and Buzzfeed, commerce content drives 3X more traffic to retailers than Google and hundreds of millions of monthly visits to Amazon. For all of Google's omnipresence, consumers still have more trust in media brands when it comes to recommending what to buy."

One of our clients, Refinery29, exemplifies this move towards commerce content, taking advantage of editorial trust to deliver a premium experience. Take, for example, their campaign with Dyson. You get great content such as " At Home Blowout Tips" while leveraging your brand power as an editorial team to generate real revenue by recommending the best products. Then, when you combine this with RebelMouse's Social UX design, you have an unbeatable combination for success in a post-ad world.

Part of building the trust that drives life in a post-advertising world involves having engaging conversations, and this involves a back-and-forth, a give-and-take. By thinking from a customer-centric perspective, brands can use customer stories to generate beautiful and engaging content that is authentic. This is why Mallazzo is spot-on when he says:

"Looking forward, the future of media most squarely belongs to brands like Allure and GQ that can take it one step further and succeed at becoming an extension of self."

It is that authenticity which drives connection and builds a legacy of trust and loyalty.

Ideally, each story you put out wins a search phrase that is valuable to you. At RebelMouse we have spent the past seven years developing our proprietary CMS platform to win at SEO and social to viralize content like no other creative agency in the world.

Part of our best practices is to think in terms of particles, not articles. These days it is the embedded tweet or the Instagram story that goes viral more so than the article itself. Our unique Particle Assembler technology combines optimal SEO structuring with beautiful and easy-to-use design to make the editorial flow streamlined with maximal results.

Mallazzo writes:

"The enduring power of the media brand provides hope that a model will arise to sustain an independent and profitable fourth estate."

We are seeing our clients embrace this philosophy successfully. Take Wonkette. They have no ads, but are thriving on a model based around loyalty and donations. People spend all day on the site because they have built a unique brand identity and used our platform to find the reach necessary for growth.

At RebelMouse, we know how to use deep technology to leverage this amazing resource for optimal results. But at the end of the day, it's up to brands to find the motivation to build a legacy of trust with their customers. It cannot be built in a day. But in a world without ads (or at least a world where ads are dominated by Facebook and Google), you have to start building sometime. Otherwise, you'll be left behind by savvy consumers looking for authenticity.

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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The Intersection of Design and Development: Where Your Clients Thrive

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Native Multivariate Testing at Scale With RebelMouse

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There are many popular tools that allow you to perform experiments and A/B tests on your users — primarily Google Chrome Experiments and Optimizely. But all of these solutions are JavaScript additions to your web page that sidestep the problem of old, outdated, and clumsy CMSs. These solutions work by calling on a third-party JavaScript library that rewrites a page after it's rendered. This approach adds extra page weight and creates strange user experiences due to having to wait for everything to load and be rewritten on the fly.

At RebelMouse, we've solved this in a very elegant way. At the core level of our platform, we can natively render different layouts and track the exact differences in performance when comparing a test to your other layouts.

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Modern E-Commerce: Blur the Line Between Content and Design

Create Modular + Reusable Design Patterns on RebelMouse

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Building Premium Communities and User Journeys on RebelMouse

RebelMouse is much more than just a replacement for a traditional CMS. Our platform is a tremendous community-building experience. Today's social ecosystem has given us a seemingly limitless number of premium creators who understand how to create gorgeous and relevant content that drives the growth of their own audiences. These creators and influencers are either experts in certain topics, or heavily engaged in targeted content that drives their interests. They're not only consuming the content they're passionate about, but they're contributing to the conversation, too. The new role of the editor is not just to cover the most important topics and people around their expertise, but also to invite those preferred influencers into their community and get them to participate in creating premium content.

Read our deck here...

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Help your audience find its voice.

Creating quality content is no longer on marketers alone. We live in a universe of creators who are willing to not only consume content that resonates, but play a role in the creation, promotion, and conversations surrounding it.

Since the start of RebelMouse, we've been on a journey to create dynamic media that is easier for content creators to curate and amplify on social. It's why we've built an online engagement platform centered around the power of communities that thrive naturally in the digital ecosystem.

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How to Monetize Your Website in Today’s Publishing Environment

In order to define distributive publishing, we have to ask the following question: If you have quality content, but nobody sees it, does it even exist? The answer is no, because your content needs to be supported in a way that lets it move seamlessly across all channels, especially site, search, and social. But let's take this question a step further: If you can't monetize your content to generate the support it needs, how do you create quality content in the first place?

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No More Website Updates: Publish Like It’s the 2020s

These are the next-gen updates you need to stay ahead of the competition

Content creation is still the most powerful engine that propels every publisher forward. But in 2020 and beyond, quality content won't sustain a site on its own. The modern content lifecycle hinges on a number of things working together in unison — including page speed, intelligent SEO, and effective distribution, just to name a few.

However, there's one thing that can throw a wrench in the entire system, and that's platform updates. Whether you're publishing on a common CMS solution like WordPress, using a custom in-house CMS, have access to a dedicated team of developers, or any option in between, platform updates can be both costly and frustrating.

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RebelMouse CEO: Reimagining Diversity “Starts in the Office”

Why women, minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community will restructure workplace norms

Entering a new decade means a new opportunity to change how we approach diversity. In a joint interview alongside Leanne Pittsford of Lesbians Who Tech, RebelMouse founder and CEO Andrea Breanna said that the only way to fight patriarchal dominance is to encourage and nurture more women, minorities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace, particularly in tech.

Over half of RebelMouse's employees are women or identify as LGBTQ. Read our full diversity and inclusion report here.

Check out the full video below.

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