Why You NEED To Change Your Marketing Because of News Aggregators

In a few short years, news aggregators like Flipboard, Zite, Pulse reader and more, have changed the way millions of people digest their news and information. This has a profound effect on your marketing and you likely aren’t even aware how this adversely affects you.

In early 2008 these aggregators started to really take off. Several of them went from 1 million monthly users in the beginning of 2008, to over 12 million in the following months (not years). It’s clear that this is a popular trend and one that needs to be addressed with your marketing, or specifically with your content marketing.

During this period, I noticed our media site data on Google Analytics was doing very well. However, the site server statistics which is inclusive of rss feed data was exponentially higher. Of course we removed data from spiders and search engines, but it was the rss data that stood out as a red flag as being so high in volume. Because our site was comprised of 56 different writers and blogs, we had over 56 different rss feeds. What was amazing to me however was that rss was the leading statistic on our traffic. This was also detailing all of the different feeds, not looking at a total aggregate of feeds.  This is something Google Analytics cannot track as you cannot place GA code on rss feeds.

We soon learned it was in large part the result of news aggregators like Zite and Flipboard that were taking our stories and in some instances, placing our entire article in their feed. Even though we were only sending our first paragraph over rss, somehow these sites were getting all of our content. Adding to the aggravation was my personal workflow in digesting news. I used these aggregators (and still do) all the time.  When an article is too long, I save to Pocket. I was soon realizing that I almost never went to the news and information sites I read daily. That’s a HUGE problem for media as they make their living off of eyeballs and selling advertising based off those eyeballs.

The Pivot

Immediately we pivoted our business model to take advantage of content marketing from our advertisers. We saw that at some point our advertisers would realize they were spending good money to place ads on our site, but people could read our articles without actually visiting our site. Problem.

To make our plan work we did one thing very few publishers, even today, are willing to do. We incorporated our vendor’s content marketing into our rss feeds (as appropriate). Yes we called out the content as “partner content”, but more importantly we educated our advertisers on the value of great content marketing. NO marketing fluff at all. Only information-based articles that solve readers problems. For example, we had Adobe product managers writing tips and tricks on how to use Adobe software better, faster, and to create cooler stuff.

In the end, we delivered to our client something they couldn’t get elsewhere.  We delivered not only good analytics but we delivered their articles to the places their customers were. We delivered their content in ways their customers wanted to read content. It’s a valuable lesson as you should be reaching out to your media partners and demanding to learn how your content is to be shared. If they aren’t willing to do this, you might want to encourage them, or choose elsewhere.

As I have mentioned before, it’s a good thing to hire a publisher to manage your content marketing. There are many reasons this will pay off.