Yet, unique visitor growth was less consistent, which is typical for a viral publisher like Upworthy that tends to have an uneven distribution of home runs, Pariser said. It was also moving away from viral articles.
In March, unique visitors stood at 16.7 million, the second-lowest traffic month in the past nine months. Those numbers continued to decline to the 13 million range in May and June (the same months in which attention minutes spiked upward), before picking back up again. In November, Upworthy closed out the second month in a row with 20.9 mlllion uniques.
Unique visitors and attention minutes “are on separate axes,” Pariser said. “One is breadth, one is depth.” The challenge is making both rise without sacrificing one or the other.
With a greater focus on articles that keep readers engaged longer, Upworthy hopes to continue to attract brands.
“More marketers are trying to figure out how to speak to values and a sense of purpose, especially with millennials,” Pariser said, noting that a shared sense of purpose drives consumer spending with that brand.
The same insights Upworthy uses to create original content and repackage stories on the editorial side apply to sponsored pieces, which often perform at least as well as editorial ones.
“There was a day last week where all top three native pieces on the site were sponsored,” Pariser said. “That’s great, because it’s delivering for our audience and our partners.”
Readers who engage with sponsored content change their mind about the brand. It’s conducted third-party studies that show its sponsored posts can “shift opinions for months or longer,” Pariser said. “That’s what you want as a brand. Something that’s memorable, emotional and sticks with you.”