Author Archive

My Experiences Visiting Online Publishers in Latin America

September 23rd, 2013 by Ben M.

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Fidgeting in the waiting room of the Brazilian Consulate in NYC, I could barely contain my excitement for my upcoming trip. After discussing my outlook on the future of publishing in South America (on this very blog) I was challenged by Chart-leadership to put my projections to the test.

It made sense - while my beliefs were grounded in a largely myopic view of the region based on our local partners and my own research, I had little experience on the ground. Meeting with the folks creating content, talking to the people who were building their brand around a specific, local audience - this was what I needed. So off I went.

My first stop was in Lima, Peru - for a publisher’s conference hosted by INMA. INMA is an organization built for news media organizations around the world - established to share ideas and sustain growth in the uncertain publishing market. Nearly all major local publishers were in attendance for two days of seminars, lunches, and a couple cocktails here and there.

At a very high-level, the conference focused on how publishers can build a brand targeted at a specific audience and develop that brand through print, digital and e-comm verticals. Yes, I said print. Print circulation is actually growing in Latin America. There were a wide range of stimulating talks, but two that stood out to me were:
  • Carlos Ruiz of Reset: Agencia de Medios spoke about “los nuevos paradigmas” or the different mediums through which a publisher can capture the attention of their audience. Yet the various mediums, according to him, made no difference. Creating content based on how readers consume your content, he reasoned, is more important than focusing on print over digital, or vice versa.

  • Maria Eugenia Castaneda, a consultant from Guatemala talked about intelligent market analysis and the increased importance of understanding who your audience is and how they consume your content. Once you understand the audience and have your “message” the task at hand is to figure out which product or medium you use to deliver that message.

The importance of connecting with an audience and building content around that audience became abundantly clear - an issue I focus on in American and European markets today.

Yet digital in South America is a candle in the sun (when it comes to revenue) compared with print (Tweet this) - meaning that editors and product managers can take more risks. Digital can showcase what might work in print (as it’s not core to the business) making it the perfect breeding ground for radical innovation when it comes to online publishing.

Editors and PM’s can find new ways to reach their audience and to create their content, experimenting with different mediums and hyper-targeted branding. As digital moves into the H1 position (see what I did there?) audience-focused workflows will be longstanding, sustaining the growth beget by print. Whoa.

After Lima, I went to Sao Paulo for a few meetings with local publishers. The conversations I had there only furthered signs of encouragement for future market growth in the years to come. I picked up some interesting facts along the way, namely that the country-wide ad spend on Facebook Advertising is equivalent to that of Google Adwords. After working as an Adwords consultant a few years ago, I was blown away by that stat.

40% of people in Brazil share news stories on Facebook (Tweet this) , making it ever-more important for publishers to understand how those readers coming over from Facebook are consuming their content in the hopes of converting those users into long-term and returning readers. The amount of activity on Facebook, in general, is outstanding. The growth in new Brazilian Facebook users is nearly double that of the next leading country, India. With more people coming through Facebook to these news sites, it’s going to become even more important to understand that audience and how to build upon it - something we at Chartbeat might be able to help out with!

Over the next few years we’ll see a multitude of innovations in the publishing space as more people come online around South America. The sustainable growth of print will buoy this innovation and allow people to experiment widely and often. Would love to get some of your feedback - hit me up!

 

AlleyWatch Feature: What Startups Can Learn from Fijian Farmers

August 28th, 2013 by Ben M.

While I'm now an Outreach team member, spending my days at Chartbeat developing partnerships in the U.S. and abroad, prior to joining the Chartteam I spent some time working for a nonprofit in Fiji. I learned a lot during my time in Fiji – and since I've been back  those learnings have become applicable in all sorts of ways.

I recently wrote a piece for AlleyWatch that draws parallels between Fijian farming traditions and and strategies shared by lean startups and publishers. Check out this link for the whole article, and enjoy the excerpt below:

Before I entered the world of tech, data, and office dogs, I lived in Fiji and worked for a human-services nonprofit. I was lucky enough to help out at a 186-acre farm where dozens of subsistence farmers worked the land to feed their families and raise their children.

Beyond their immense generosity, two things jumped out at me immediately: the farmers walked extremely slowly, and they planted all of their crops on an incline. Seemed a little strange to me, so I talked with a few farmers and found out they did this because they understood the exact amount of calories, power, and reward that they would extract from a single plant, even a group of plants.

By planting on an incline and walking slowly, they expended less energy to get the same reward, maximizing the deal they made with mother nature.

So why is this at all relevant? Because, when you think about it, this is exactly what lean startup teams do — or should do, at least.

Lean teams with endless responsibility and an autonomous, no-heavy-oversight-layers-of-management working style have to be conscious of how they spend their time. Every hour spent iterating on that perfectly flat design, creating the right Facebook presence, user testing again and again, or searching for someone to promote the biz, must be quantified. Did that hour actually move the needle? Thinking in the way of our Fijian farmers, how slow do we need to walk and what incline do we plant on to get the ripest fruit?

Keep reading here. And please let me know what you think in the Comments!

Is the Future of Online Publishing in South America?

August 1st, 2013 by Ben M.

In my time at Chartbeat, I’ve seen some pretty exciting stuff from publishers across the world. It’s been awesome to see some of the largest news sites move away from transactional metrics like page views and bounce-rate to ones that focus on quality – the minutes and seconds that readers spend actively reading, scrolling or commenting on an article – or what some people call engagement.

Through an intricate ballet of trial and error, newsrooms in Western Europe and the United States have developed reproducible workflows to convert first-time visitors into a loyal following; all by surfacing their highest-quality content every moment in every day.

Newsrooms now see each piece of content as an entry point for their respective sites, hoping to generate an engaging article that funnels users inward. Despite seismic shifts in the way people are accessing content online, the most basic principles of time and quality still apply.

When people ask about Chartbeat, I often recount the role we’ve played and continue to play in the aforementioned markets. Yet the progress and potential on the horizon for emerging markets like South America, Africa and the Middle East makes me realize how important metrics like engagement will be going forward.

Let’s start with South America. Considering the volume of people we work with in South America, I’ve started to see some trends in conversations that are shaping my perspective on the region. As I build on this perspective, I’m hoping to tap into the vast array of expertise and experience amongst those who populate this blog. In other words: weigh in!

First, let’s set the stage:

Worldwide News Consumption: Lack of Engagement

A few staggering stats on the worldwide consumption of news content from World Press Trends:

  • Nearly 50% of all online users visit news sites. The issue is how frequently they visit them, the length of their stay and how actively they are engaged.

  • 7% of all online visits are to newspaper sites

  • Digital populations spend 1.3% of their time on newspaper sites

  • Newspaper visits make up .9% of total pages visited

The good news is that the audience is there. The opportunity? Though the audience is showing up, they aren’t sticking around or coming back to news sites. Acquiring new traffic is historically difficult and you have to grab potential users in environments you don’t fully control.

But when the challenge is keeping your audience around, the power is fully in your hands. You control what people see, read, and watch when they are on your site. Our research shows that increasing the amount of time each reader spends with you on a particular article also increases the probability that they will come back again in the near future.

With newspaper circulation sliding in the more mature markets (newspaper circulation has declined by 4.3 percent in the United States and 3.4 percent in Europe (WAN)) these publishers are fighting a battle on two fronts. Yet circulation and traffic is actually growing in South America. The traffic acquisition outlook is much healthier.

South American Growth
  • Newspaper circulation grew 3.3 percent last year in Latin America (WAN)

  • Advertising revenue from newspapers is up 37.6% in Latin America (World Press Trends)

  • Internet user penetration in Latin America alone is expected to rise 11% in the next 3 years. (New Media Trend Watch)

  • Dozens of journo and news-focused organizations are firmly planted in the digital space. Take, for example, the Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa, or Inter American Press Association, which maintains a heavy online presence.

South America: A Growing Audience Ripe for Engagement

The major decline in circulation in the more mature markets is making it even harder to engage the user base; there’s less and less territory to work with. Yet in South America we’re seeing year-on-year growth. As all parts of the market are expanding, South American Publishers have the chance to harness the metrics that folks in the more mature markets have only recently discovered - the one’s focused on time and engagement. Publishers in mature markets are at the helm of a much larger ship on a different course. They’re having to rethink and restructure current workflows AND find ways to find new users.

In South America, conversely, have new users flowing through the front/side door, and with more and more people coming online, that trend is sure to continue. South American publishers, unsaddled with the old habits, can start focusing on the right metrics at the right time and develop workflows in the newsroom that actually help build and retain audience. They have the technical and tactical advantages that focus and revolve around these quality-based metrics.

Here at Chartbeat we have found that the amount of time somebody spends actively engaging with your content is directly correlated to their propensity to return to your site, thus to building long-term audience. Publishers focusing on this quality in the nascent stage of development will build a tradition of journalism that not only promotes relevant and hyper-specific content, but one that will also help increase returning users month over month - creating the sustainable growth that advertisers invest in. Combine that with rapid growth of the online news ecosystem and we have an industry/sector suited for growth - to say the least. The cherry on top: publishers who experience these successes today - Clarin, for example - will begin teaching younger generations, in JSchool and beyond, how to create sustainable online-news models.

“The news industry’s future is about how citizens engage and participate in their society,” said Vincent Peyrègne, CEO of WAN-IFRA”;  South America is in a unique place to help shape this future, to realize what might be the most profitable publishing model the world has seen.

Thoughts? Comments? What am I missing or misinterpreting? Let me know in the Comments section.  

3 Tips in 5 Minutes: How to Build Your Audience in Real Time with Chartbeat Publishing

January 16th, 2013 by Ben M.

While the learning curve for Chartbeat Publishing should take under a minute – it's awesomely intuitive in that way – there are a few extra tips and tricks that make that mastering the ancient art of Chartbeat Publishing an even more successful adventure, especially when it comes to learning strategies to grow your readership.

Our frequent dev cycles here at Chartbeat mean the scope of our real-time world is always evolving to expand the frontiers of real time’s potential, but also to meet the needs of our client-partners. We’re learning that it’s increasingly important to help our clients find new ways to drive value – and find that value very quickly.

As a member of the Product Outreach team, I help our clients spot ways to increase the quality of their content, so their audience comes back again and again - spotting those precious value-driving moments in he dashboard. Studying for decades (poetic license allows for slight exaggeration, right?) under our education guru, I have learned to be the dashboard. Now, I'll teach you a few tricks, grasshopper. Take these ideas out for a spin; they’re all quick and effective ways to increase your traffic (and your content’s value).

1. Find an article with a high average Engaged Time and low internal traffic, then relocate it on your site.

Why? Articles with high Engaged Time averages are the most generous in terms of pushing users deeper into your site – they keep more active eyes on your content for longer periods of time. But content with low internal traffic (traffic coming from other pages in your site vs. from off your site through social, SEO, etc.) probably means people on your site aren’t seeing that super-engaging piece. So a high-engagement-low-traffic story is a huge opportunity to get your most loyal readers reading. How? Organize your top pages by “most engaging”. Click through those articles until you find an article with low internal traffic.

Then what? Now that you’ve found your all-star content, relocate that story above the fold on your homepage or a place on the page where you know that story can gain some well-deserved readership.

2. Find a popular social article and cross-promote it across other social networks.

Why? The same guy who gets his news from Twitter is probably going to click an article that pops up in his Facebook newsfeed, right? Readers from similar referral sources are going to absorb similar content – you probably do it every day without even noticing it. How? Sort your top pages using “Social” as the referrer. Find the article with the highest percentage of traffic from “Social”. Click into that article to find its most popular social source.

Then what? Promote the story across other social platforms (for instance if an article is popular on Facebook, then push it out on Twitter or your next email newsletter). Spread the social media love.

3. Optimize your referral channels to "complete the rainbow."

Why? If all of your traffic isn't coursing equivalently through your various referral channels (links, social, search and direct) you're missing those traffic-exploding opportunities. How? At the general site level, look at how you’re allocating resources towards promoting your social, search, or link traffic efforts. Put your audience-building hat on and reprioritize for the future -- assign more resources to a certain channel if you see disparities in the ways you’re generating traffic.

At the article level, simply click on various articles and see where the bulk of your traffic is coming from, and get creative! Maybe you’re falling a little short in your Twitter referrals, or perhaps you can focus on that new link partnership you've been dreaming about.

Then what? Prioritize and organize. Then kick back, you’re generating equal traffic from all possible sources, you’re not missing a thing! Want more tips? We’ve got more where these came from- drop me an emailOr maybe you’ve got a better idea up your sleeve– share your brilliant ideas in the comments section below.