It was a shocker to read that the MailOnline is America’s third largest news outlet this morning, just behind NYTimes.com and WashingtonPost.com.
But it’s easy to get ahead when you have chutzpah. As a tabloid, it appears there was no hand wringing about pay models or how to fit sponsored content between slideshows of Kate Middleton’s baby bump and unsolved crime conspiracies. Sort of like the New York Post doesn’t worry about fact checking before laying our their morning edition.
We don’t produce the content for them. What we do is create content hubs where their content will naturally fit in with our editorial. They may provide information about their products, videos showcasing their service and content relevant to topics in their product category. So we bring years of content publishing experience and an understanding of what audiences want to read. The marketer brings years of category insight and product knowledge. The end result has to provide more value to the consumer than if we had done this on our own. It’s in everyone’s interest to create something that’s entertaining. On top of that, it has to be clear that there’s a sponsor involved.
You can prattle on about the quality of the content and journalistic endeavors all you want, but the reality of digital publishing is just do it. ‘It just has to be clear that there’ a sponsor involved.’
One of the reasons the MailOnline cites for their success is their large audience. To hear Sean O’Neal, MailOnline’s global CMO, explain it, it sounds like they have a staff of ten Jonah Peretti’s who just know — they can feel it — what’s going to go viral and that drives their content.
Our managing editors have unmatched instincts for what stories are going to be the most popular. That said, we have embraced data and analytics to further optimize the consumer experience. Because our traffic is so large, within minutes of publishing a story we have a statistically significant sample and can accurately measure whether it is popular or not. We can also dissect which elements of the story might be working and optimize to it. Since our own audience sample is so significant, we do not need to look outside at social media or search to know what to optimize in either our content or our advertising programs.
Non-tabloid organizations can do it, too. They just have to get over themselves, maybe.
- Take money from sponsors and use it. Make it pretty. Just don’t mess it up.
- Embrace the data analysts. It’d be nice to live in an Aaron Sorkin-like media bubble, where the nobility of your cause means more than ratings, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
- Make videos. Apparently, this is the answer. More free video content, more page views, more money. The formula seems to easy to be true.