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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.

Publishers No Longer Have to Submit Their Site to Google News

Google's Publisher Center creates new opportunities for audience growth

Just before the start of the next decade, Google announced an important change to its Google News offering with the launch of Google Publisher Center. The new interface merges Google News Producer and Google News Publisher into one to streamline the partnership process for publishers.

Overall, the change should make it easier for publishers to manage their Google News settings, including updating themes, directing URLs to section pages, and configuring user permissions. Read the full list of features here.

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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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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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