Marfeel Round Table Recap: How do you ensure an optimal reader experience across platforms?
What are the most pressing issues facing digital publishers today, and how will those issues evolve to shape the future of digital publishing? This question framed an illuminating round table session recently hosted in Marfeel’s Barcelona offices.
The round table was hosted by Forbes Contributor Steve Olenski, and benefitted from the insights of Markus Bucheli, CEO & Founder of LikeMag Media House; Xavi Beumala, CEO & Founder of Marfeel; Melissa N Yonemura, Digital Media Manager for Autoweek at Crain Communications; Juan Margenat, COO & Co-founder of Marfeel; and Marko Žulj, Channel Partner Manager at Google EMEA.
How can publishers ensure an optimal reader experience across platforms?
You can check out the recording from this session below, or read on ahead if you prefer our text-based overview:
Steve opened the session by asking publishers how they work to ensure they offer optimal reader experiences across platforms, and how prominently demographics affect this process.
Readership in the digital landscape is indeed fragmented; audiences of different ages are on different devices, exhibiting different preferences for media type across different platforms, and each user has a different level of technical literacy. Reconciling these differences to offer a pleasurable reading experience can be a huge challenge for publishers.
Melissa from Autoweek shared how the publication’s demographics have evolved in recent years, shifting from readers belonging predominantly to the 55 and older audience range to a more steady balance of readers aged between 25 and 55. Explaining how this shift in audience impacted content, Melissa explained:
“We have to keep in mind both audiences, so we provide content that would reach both audiences. So we have long, deep, detailed content and we have short ‘TLDR’ content that keeps things short with lots of images to attract a more millennial audience… and we also have the longer content that has more details that keep our older audience happy too.”
As well as keeping their diverse audience in mind when crafting content, Melissa also explained that being receptive to reader feedback is essential. Direct ties with readers helps Autoweek to keep a pulse on tastes and take feedback into consideration when considering changes or updates. Markus from LikeMag echoed this focus on reader satisfaction and explained that because his publication focuses so much on engagement, his team seize opportunities to ask readers key questions:
“We ask our readers do you like this article? Is this of value to you? The KPIs that we have are more focused on interactions - meaningful interaction - rather than just pageviews only.”
This focus on meaningful interaction is one of the secrets to the exceptional growth of LikeMag. Markus explained that “nowadays everything is in a feed, and we find that we pop up far more if we have readers who are actively engaged with our brand compared to other publications with lower engagement rates.”
Many other publishers would agree with Markus’ findings. Given Facebook’s recent algorithm changes, engagement and a clear demonstration of social value are going to be more important than ever before for publishers looking to find their way into news feeds. At this point Xavi jumped in with an interesting point:
“When we say that millennials spend 60% of their time on mobile, it’s not that they are looking at the black screen, and it’s not that they are using 20 applications. Each user has a preferred application that they will use for the majority of their time on mobile… I have seen the mindset of publishers change in the last two years. They are more aware than ever that content production is expensive and they need to make distribution more sophisticated: content needs to be repurposed.”
Xavi continued by saying that in the past, some publishers would say that they could not afford to cater to different platforms. However, Xavi continues: “we cannot say this anymore. Because maybe you are putting aside a group of niche users that would like your content. And that makes things much more complicated.”
Xavi’s statements are supported by findings from Statista, its research finding that app users spend 77% of their time on their top three apps. Publishers will ignore niche platforms and apps at their peril, as these can provide unexpected numbers of readers.
LikeMag has seen this phenomenon firsthand. Markus explained how a push to grow the publication’s presence on Pinterest led to unprecedented leaps in traffic coming from the platform. Diversity in traffic sources is key.
When prompted for his thoughts on questions around demographics and media formats, Juan responded with a question on where the current consensus stood on video content. He explained how he has seen brands like Facebook and The New York Times invest heavily in video before, but this trend appeared to be slowing.
Marko responded by presenting his perspectives on how to deliver the best experience to diverse audiences. He began by sharing a concept that he called “e-patience”, which he sees exhibited by millennial audiences who are unwilling to spend a lot of time with content. Shorter videos were more effective for these audiences while older audiences typically exhibit more patience and consumer longer videos. He remarked how targeting audiences accurately could help publishers to display the most appropriate type of content. Markus shared his first-hand experience with video. When LikeMag was launched it was a video house. He says that the strong trend toward video was propelled initially by Facebook, which paid publishers to produce video for its platform. However when this monetary incentive was removed the volume of video produced naturally stagnated.
He expressed excitement around the future of video, characterized by a new form: “story” content. He says that these short sequences can empower audiences with more control, liberating where they decide to focus their attention in a similar way that the television did. Stay tuned for the second post in this series, when we will explore the panel’s perspective on Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages initiative.