Technology isn’t the only thing that changes quickly in the digital content arena. Audience consumption habits, evolving marketer priorities and wildly fluctuating ways in which we can interpret the mounds of data being collected online are playing havoc with the market strategies for our own brands. Sometimes, it just takes a little focus on a few key areas to bring things back into perspective. Folio:, in partnership with Nxtbook Media, conducted a survey in June to gain an empirical dataset around digital and mobile metrics to help establish an industry baseline and tease out some ideas for best practices. The survey was conducted online via email, with 185 responses tabulated.
Here, Folio: speaks with Joy Beachy, marketing maestro at Nxtbook Media, who shares some insights. For a complete look at the results, be sure to visit Foliomag.com.
Folio: What were some of the top-line results that stood out?
Joy Beachy: One thing that was towards the top of my curiosity list was this question on which is more important, building engagement or building readership? Obviously we’d all like both.
Fortunately or unfortunately, it went a little as expected. The industry is torn. This could point to a bit of an education process that’s happening now, where more people are starting to draw a distinction between readership and engagement, but the draw to being able to quote high reader numbers is still there.
There was the obvious question of what is a top concern for publishers trying to increase engagement. Choosing content topics won by a landslide. But when we asked to what indicated readership success, almost 54 percent of respondents pointed to increased page views, and 51 percent hoped for increased unique visitors. These were chosen well over time spent in the publication (almost 40 percent). This to me says the industry is still talking about readers or unique visits, not audience building.
Yet, when we asked why publishers are targeting communities via social channels, the top answer, more than 76 percent, was to encourage a connection between their audience and their brand. That’s thinking of the brand as the conduit to deeper engagement.
Folio: Results indicate that publishers are using data to help determine what content they should be publishing.
JB: It is becoming more of an industry practice, especially as people are doing more multiplatform publishing. Metrics will help with consistency as well. It’s the same as big consumer product industries using aggregated purchasing information to see what is selling well, and to which audience, so they know what to make more or less of. By using your metrics you can see not only what topics drive the longest page views or most shares, but you can also see where your money should go. This is where a strategic dashboard is your best friend: you can show to your advertisers and your own CFO the value you’re bringing to them and your audience through metrics.
Folio: Is there a disconnect between how publishers and advertisers value each publishing platform, and more particularly with replica editions?
JB: There are a lot of options for advertisers, so before you try to sell replica exclusively, try working within your digital teams, or with your digital publishing partner to come up with the best solution.
The other part of the struggle is that advertisers don’t necessarily live in the same digital world as publishers. When they look at media buy they’re looking at the whole package. Part of the struggle is educating them as to the value of appearing in a digital edition. In one of the questions we ask what is the greatest barrier to helping advertisers understand the value of digital content, and the number-one struggle was educating them on the difference between print and digital. The value of appearing in alongside content that went through an editorial process, to a qualified audience, in a brand-safe environment isn’t inherently obvious to an advertiser. So publishers should be ready to talk through all the options, and why, for instance, a custom edition with just their sponsorship is a good idea, or how their ad, strategically placed in a sponsorship position, can increase their exposure