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New Media Companies Are Big Media's Worst Nightmare

The battle of the platforms has brought us to an even playing field.

There's something called the Reddit Bureau of Investigation. It's a subreddit where curious users leverage crowdsourcing to comb through digital clues to solve crimes. In 2013, it was these redditors who tried to find the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. In 2016, it was also rigorous Reddit investigators who tried to find out if Making a Murderer's Steven Avery was in fact guilty.

These Reddit detectives are just your so-called average joes sitting behind computer screens. And while they may have plenty of awful fails in their investigations, they still make national headlines.

Reddit's go-to internet detectives are an illustration of why digital publishing, particularly distributed content across platforms, has given us all an even playing field. It's also why big media companies should be worried.

The Reddit Bureau of Investigation is a social platform that puts users at the forefront.


When digital publishing first became a real thing — as in when we collectively began to agree that it would take over print — legacy publishers had the upper hand thanks to resources that allowed them to make sexy websites and figure things out on their own time. Then newer big media companies, like The Huffington Post, were able to use innovation to set the bar of what publishing would look like in the digital age.

Soon after that, publishers started to lose their content to the platforms. News began to break on Twitter, viral moments would spread through Facebook, and celebrities shared their changing relationship statuses on Instagram. Oh, and people attempted to solve cold cases on Reddit.

This is when true control was taken away from legacy publishers, along with the big media companies who saw themselves as digital revolutionaries — the social experience removed all the old obstacles to getting published. It's why big media companies so vigorously fight so-called content-hostage-perpetrating platforms like Facebook. And it's why they should be trembling in their boots.

Going Viral on a Passion

There's a quadrant of virality we believe in, made of love, hate, belief, and disbelief. It's what makes content shareable. One of those emotions is always tapped when a moment goes viral. Whether it's disbelief in the color of a dress, sadness at the death of a gorilla, or the outrage needed to join together a resistance movement, emotion steers what makes something worth sharing.

Social platforms remove all boundaries from passionate people connecting with their like-minded audiences. Just as Twitter removed the agents and PR reps that once filtered what celebrities and politicians said, the same has happened for the masses. The best part is these passionate people are the new creators and brand innovators.

At RebelMouse, we've helped plenty of these innovators reach viral heights. We helped harness one woman's love of animals to create the now iconic community The Dodo. Our latest property, Axios, is making waves in political circles. Axios was an instant viral hit because it resonates with the passionate disbelief many feel in our current political climate and the chaos surrounding credible news.

We've also launched new media properties like EcoWatch, LoveMeow, and Higher Perspective, which serve the love of environment, felines, and positive thinking, respectively. That passion is met with engagement in the feeds.

Not only are the obstacles that once hindered these brand innovators gone thanks to the ease of social, they now have another tool at their fingertips their legacy and media counterparts should find scary: lean tech.

A Higher Reach with No Hassle

The new era of passionate content creators already knows how to deliver their brand in a message that speaks to their audience on social.

Think of what Airbnb did to Craigslist. They took content that was resonating on a bad interface and made it a beautiful experience. That's what this batch of creative founders are doing with their new media companies — using savvy, lean tech that ditches heavy design for fast + simple delivery.

Bidding adieu to expensive dev teams, designers, and UX teams breaks down even more walls between content and growth. Breaking through these barriers helps grassroots media companies flourish quickly, with little-to-no launch time and often with an instant, huge reach on social feeds.

Screenshot from Fast Company after The Dodo's launch.

Predictive social analytics company NewsWhip found that Facebook Pages with relatable or niche focuses drove higher than average engagements. In February 2017, the top 10 Facebook feeds with the highest engagement overall consisted entirely of new media companies, many of which were born on the feeds. Their websites were a lean afterthought.

From NewsWhip.

The Pages in the graphic above had much higher engagement than mainstream publishers, despite posting far less content. Many of them posted less than 100 pieces of content the entire month.

There's nobody at Pages like The BEER Bible or UNILAD that serves as the star or founder — it's just people using their resources at hand to create something viral and awesome. They could be the same people behind the Reddit Bureau of Investigation for all we know.

It's this potential for explosive reach at any time that legacy and big media companies should take more stock in, and adjust their strategies accordingly. In order to compete, it's crucial to cut expensive dev teams and focus on content creation and distribution.

We recently took this one step further at RebelMouse with our Social UX for Media. We're rethinking the role websites play in the dynamic, inherently social infoscape. We're catching up websites to the feeds. With features like infinite scroll and before-you-know-it's-an-ad unobtrusive sponsored content integration, your site becomes the feed.

RebelMouse's Social UX for Media on Axios.com.

With the birth of our Social UX for Media, instead of asking ourselves, "What's the latest in web design?," we've started asking, "What's the latest on the platforms?" We've tailored our distributed CMS to these platforms to ensure that your content gets the competitive reach it needs.

Because everyone deserves to go viral on a passion. It's now on publishers to brace for impact.

NEW: Page Views per Particle Enabled for Google AMP

Increase mobile page views for every particle using Google AMP

RebelMouse has deployed an exciting update: We've enabled particle tracking in Google Analytics for articles using Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) format, which means every particle now triggers a page view event upon scroll. Before, just one page view event would be logged when the mobile page initially loaded.

Not Familiar With What This Means? Read On

The days of static, flat media are over. Sites with low performance scores, obtrusive ad experiences, and poor content structure simply won't make it. Knowing these truths, the way we think of an article can no longer be static either.

An article today now takes several forms: short-form, long-form, listicle, slideshow, etc. Because of this, we've created a simple framework called Particle Assembler that accounts for all possibilities when building out content.

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 way to author content on RebelMouse, and are standalone elements that use their own imagery, title, and copy. For example, let's say you create a post that's titled, "The Best Place for Tacos in Austin." Each taco destination in this article will have a lead image, the name of the restaurant, its location, and a description of the restaurant with images of their food. Each of these restaurant highlights contain enough information to stand by themselves as individual posts.

Building particles in RebelMouse's Entry Editor.

And they do stand alone successfully when you're on RebelMouse — each particle can be shared separately on social and each will register as a unique page view thanks to our latest update. This is a critical part of our modern pageview methodology that ensures our publishers deliver an elegant user experience to readers while still capitalizing on a meaningful monetization strategy. For instance, not only is every particle now a page view on Google AMP, but it's also a new revenue opportunity. This is thanks to the various placement opportunities for ads we offer within our Particle Assembler.

ICYMI, Google AMP is the search engine's lightning-fast mobile experience. With this update, sites powered by RebelMouse will not only deliver the best AMP experience to their users, but they'll also earn the page views their content deserves, too.

See the Massive Difference

In just a short period after implementing this change, one client experienced a massive spike in AMP pages per user, where it jumped from 1.6 to 8.2:

Here's what their AMP pages per user looked like just prior to the update:

If you're interested in experiencing this type of growth and getting more page views for your mobile content, request a proposal today and let's start working together. If you're already on RebelMouse, email support@rebelmouse.com or talk to your account manager to learn more about particle views for Google AMP.

Primary Tags: Structure Your Site for Success

Dynamic taxonomy improves usability and propels SEO strategy

It's not a surprise that quality content can easily be spoiled by a poor site experience. This is why we're extremely proud of the lightning-fast sites we power. But speed is only the beginning of the user experience.

The temperature on platform dependency has cooled in recent years, revitalizing the value of site visits and search strategy. This is good news for both users and publishers who need site stability to survive. Because of this shift, RebelMouse focuses on three primary key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure site usability and health:

  • Sessions per User: The average number of site sessions that each user has in a given time period.
  • Pages per User: The average number of page views that each user has in a given time period.
  • Time per User: The average amount of time spent on site by each user.

In order for these metrics to shine, a site's architecture must be organized in a way that increases every user's time on site. The logic is simple: If a site is easier to navigate, the user will likely stick around longer. This is the gateway to user loyalty.

One important way we support these KPIs is through our intuitive tagging structure for content. Let's take a look at our primary tag functionality and how it can set up any site for success.

What Is a Primary Tag?

On RebelMouse, we give you the ability to use as many tags as needed on every article to help keep you organized. But there's also an option to assign one primary tag to a post. A primary tag is built on the same principle as a primary section. One tag lets you assign higher importance to certain pieces of content when processing and organizing your posts.

The Primary Tag and Tags sections in RebelMouse's Entry Editor.

The Benefits of Primary Tags

Dynamic Taxonomy: One of the primary benefits of using a primary tag is that it exposes the depth of content available to your users. Many publishers do this through the use of sections, which often turns out to be redundant and, in turn, ignored:

Sections can often be annoying to navigate and repetitive.

Using a variety of relevant tags for every article, rather than just repeating the same handful of sections, opens up more opportunities for targeted descriptors. For example, instead of using "Recipes" as a section over and over again, a primary tag can be used to create specific content flows for topics like "Vegetarian," "Soups," or "Cocktails."

Richer SEO: Since a primary tag exposes more information about your article, it also supplies more relevant data to Google's algorithm. Surfacing content in usable ways supports Google's mission to serve content based on audience behavior and intent instead of outdated and frowned-upon SEO methods like keyword stuffing. This approach is called white hat SEO, or ethical SEO.

By targeting specific interests, your dynamic tag structure will allow Google to more accurately understand your article's content and rank it accordingly. On RebelMouse, this creates a trickle-down effect, because users can click a tag and quickly get directed to more relevant articles, which boosts your SEO efforts further.

Here's how the site experience looks on RebelMouse-powered EcoWatch when viewing their primary tag "Plastics."

RebelMouse-powered EcoWatch takes advantage of a primary tag construct.

Improves Crucial KPIs: As mentioned before, RebelMouse traffic experts are constantly focused on improving the three KPIs that matter most to site usability and building audience loyalty. These metrics answer the following questions:

  • Frequency: How often are users coming to the site?
  • Depth: How many articles does each user consume?
  • Duration: How long is each user staying on the site?

Looking again at EcoWatch's use of primary tags, it's important to note that a primary tag is exposed on every one of their articles. They're also used in a left-hand navigation module that features the latest stories and trending topics:

Start Leveraging Primary Tags on RebelMouse

If you aren't on RebelMouse yet, request a proposal today and let's start working together to make sure your site is optimized for user growth. If you're already publishing on RebelMouse, and want to learn more about tagging best practices, contact your account manager or email support@rebelmouse.com.

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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