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Content, Marketing, and Media: What to Expect in 2018

The new media world in 2018 will be arguably more complex than in years past. The best way to prepare for it is to absorb lessons learned from this past year. In 2017, publishers old and new continued the uphill climb to stand out in a content-saturated ecosystem, deciphering between what their users wanted and what the duopoly (Facebook + Google) were prioritizing on their agendas. 2018 is about mastering dynamic, engaging content that is lean on tech and experience driven. Every move publishers make this year must create loyalty and recognition — the ultimate keys to success in 2018.


1. The Lean Will Rule the World

Media companies that are raising money and burning through massive amounts of cash to establish reach will find themselves feeling like it's 2001 all over again. Content that is hosted and served by Facebook will never deliver revenue equivalent to what media companies receive on their own websites. And with Facebook becoming a pillar of brand advertising, media companies are no longer the only place a brand can reach audiences at scale. Rubbing salt into the wound, Facebook's own tools to reach audiences use interest graphs built on data collected from all of the content published and interactions driven on Facebook by these media companies.

Lean media companies that don't have expensive tech teams, and have become savvy about working with community creators in fair ways, are thriving without expensive sales teams. While it's bad news for media companies that are intended to become massive, it does offer a beautiful opportunity for creators themselves to run businesses that can be financially abundant and have massive reach — if they're genuine about their content.

And there is clearly a massive opportunity for media companies that can learn to be lean in the organization of the new network of creators — a network that grows both in number of creators and in depth, talent, and dimension of the work created.

2. The Filter Bubble Is Inescapable, but You Can Play It

The fake news fallout surfaced the depth of Facebook's filter bubble and the strength of the algorithms to encapsulate our own worldviews so perfectly. It's something Upworthy founder Eli Pariser has warned users to be wary of as the personalized internet continues to take over, mostly unnoticed. But publishers who understand the bubble can use it to their advantage.

Media companies that are operating off of a single Facebook Page domain will find themselves staring into the night with knots in their stomach. Ironically, Facebook doesn't want to make people unhappy. But given the seemingly endless stream of cute and escapist content that fills our feeds, classic news sites that typically cover many topics will now find it impossible to cover stories that make people furious. This is because if a user blocks a post or a Page, or even just hides the "offending" content from their News Feed, that publisher is never given another chance. It's how users are able to create their own social existence based on their own comfort.

Brands that maintain their own Facebook Pages through sub brands, while offering expected streams of content that subscribers are interested in, are vital more than ever. Media companies that haven't diversified, and are tied to technology that is made up of single Page domains, will find themselves suffering greatly after every algorithm update. It's why BuzzFeed has seen such success with topic-specific channels like Tasty, Crafty, and Goodful.

Savvy media companies will use their existing assets to create new channels, and come up with the right content at the right time to create viral breakthroughs. This will lead to the creation of fundamentally important core assets that work well within Facebook's filter bubble. The micro fandom phenomenon applies to everyone now, and it's intricately linked to the filter bubble.

3. Facebook Will Continue to Take from Google

Facebook's data, content, and product is fundamentally ahead of Google's. DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) — Google's ad serving solution — became a user experience and content nightmare that nobody could untangle in time. And now that Facebook controls the traffic pipes, and has highly sophisticated detection, analysis, and filtering algorithms, it can literally starve out the websites that use the DFP paradigm of curtains, takeovers, and intrusive experiences.

At the same time, the Facebook Audience Network is now fully at scale — delivering beautiful ad content to the people who are most likely to actually like it. It's non-offensive, and it requires no sales team to make money from it.

4. Pivot to Writing

The pivot to video wasn't totally misguided. But nobody is going to be able to monetize readable video clips that are 30–60 seconds long. So these videos have to be placed into the context of articles worth reading — where the scroll can take control and other ads can be delivered simultaneously. Video-only companies that are relying on short-form social videos are going to find it very hard to make money without the help of premium (and very expensive) sales teams. We'll see lots of these companies either go out of business or into crisis.

The smart writers of the world, who create content worth scrolling through, reading, and spending time with, are now able to deliver real revenue to media companies through Instant Articles and streamlined mobile web experiences.

5. Loyalty and Recognition Is Gold

You can reach hundreds of millions of people a day and still learn that nearly nobody knows your name. Short-form, high-reach, low-impact video and distributed content is invaluable. But the brand recognition that comes from watching these videos is nearly zero. Companies that are not working to convert these moments into actual loyalty will find themselves deprived of both reach and revenue. Facebook wants to replace TV, and the only way to do that is to provide content worth watching, reading through, and coming back to. Creating loyalty has never been more important.

This means your website and domains matter more than ever. The loyalty we saw created by Axios on a website that looks, feels, and acts like a social feed has been tremendous. It will define the way websites are built in 2018.


The RebelMouse CMS

This past year, RebelMouse debuted features to help leverage reach for revenue-backed loyalty. Our Particle Accelerator turns every post into micro pieces of content, enabling you to schedule, promote, and accelerate each piece individually for expanded reach. Our game-changing Social UX layout — used by successful new media properties like Axios, and even legacy publishers like Dance Magazine — has redefined the meaning of page view.

RebelMouse clients have seen explosive growth this year. You can replatform to our CMS or start a new site anytime, and we can create something viral together. If not, you can still use our content strategy services to ensure you are optimized for growth in 2018.

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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