“The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.
Today's column is written by Scott Gatz, CEO and founder at Q.Digital.
With the launch of Google's AMP and Facebook and Apple opening Instant Articles and Apple News to all publishers, we're now in a world of "content everywhere."
On the positive side, these channels offer a faster user experience so people can get to content and viewable ads much more quickly. Plus, people new to a brand may discover the content in unexpected places. So far, so good.
But these new outlets present serious challenges. There's less ad space, fewer page views per user and built-in ways for people to view competitive content instead of immersing in a specific site. So it isn’t all roses. Publishers should definitely proceed, but proceed with their eyes open.
Speed matters. In other words, get there fast.
This is an instance of when it pays to be an early adopter. Publishers should get on these platforms now, when the bar to entry is low. Once they get more established, it’ll be a tougher game in a crowded field: There will be more competition, a greater barrier to entry, more hoops to jump through and requirements to meet.
Publishers will be competing with every other brand. Those that are there at the beginning will have an advantage. Be brave and be first.
As with any initiative, measurement is important to figure out what was done and what is needed in the future. Publishers should track each channel separately for engagement. The important ones to watch include page views per user and clicks out to the main site. Also keep an eye on ad impressions per revenue.
Publishers also need to track loyalists, the people who read their sites every day and have high page views per visit. These are the prized readers that no one wants to lose to platforms; publishers want to lose the one-page-view “looky-loos.”
Measurement is folly if you don’t learn from your learnings. It’s essential to review metrics and adjust before tweaking and refining formulas. Many focus on in-article links as a way to pull people into the experience and keep tweaking there. Pull back where necessary.
Facebook and Apple allow publishers to choose select feeds for inclusion. If the numbers aren't growing, think about "holding back" the top-performing content or the content loved by loyalists. Use these channels to improve traffic in lesser channels.
Branded Content Future
Wisely, BuzzFeed and T Brand Studio will embrace Instant Articles and AMP fully. For branded content, you want maximum audience, wherever they are. Getting people to open branded content faster can only be good for brand partners and the whole branded content model. If these platforms become the standard way people read certain content, branded content (or, more likely, product placement) may be the best future growth strategy.
In the brave new world of content, there are new and different ways to engage with audiences. You can have fun with category sponsorships, cross-network roadblocks and other high-impact placements. Even within the platforms’ limitations there is space to push the envelope here. It’s possible to package audiences up across all these channels for things like movie launches.
Despite all of these developments, what hasn’t changed is what matters most: building a great brand and a quality audience.