Content may be King, but it’s not enough to grow a Kingdom

Most publishers believe the old adage that “content is king” and there is little doubt that quality content is critically important when trying to grow a quality audience. But it’s only half of the equation.

But, no matter how great your content is, if it isn’t presented in a way that connects, engages and retains the interest of readers, then it’s like a Ferrari without an engine – it’s going nowhere!Content Presentation Going Nowhere

If you want to maximize the profitability potential of your publications, it’s time to rev up your content strategy that “delivers the right CONTENT to the right AUDIENCE at the right TIME” by adding the right PRESENTATION to the mix.

The Rise and Fall of the Replica

The traditional layout of a newspaper may seem archaic to an adolescence, but for printed media it still works. Over hundreds of years, newspaper design has evolved into a format that is very successful at engaging print subscribers. So it’s no wonder that the transition from newsprint to bits and bytes in the late 1990s resulted in the birth of the digital replica.

At the beginning of the digital revolution the replica quickly gained popularity with online Baby Boomers. This segment of the news readers had a pronounced emotional connection to the look, layout, navigation and “feel” of printed media, valued it enough to pay for it and was therefore more willing to pay for it in replica form. Other presentation formats didn’t cut it for them; the emotional ties were broken the moment page views were unbundled into individual articles.

Today, there are still a number of loyal subscribers who prefer replicas, but those numbers are falling as fast as the rampant rise of the millennial movement – the 18-34 year old digital natives that crave quality content, but not in print or replica form.

The Publisher Dilemma

It’s never easy trying to serve multiple audiences with a single product. They may all be hungry for news, but how they discover, access and interact with it is worlds apart – when it comes to news consumption, one size definitely does not fit all. So what’s a publisher to do to retain its existing subscribers, while generating interest from digital natives?

Some try to attract millennials by giving away their content on free news aggregators like Flipboard and News360. On the surface, this looks like a reasonable strategy for increasing brand awareness and content discovery, but it does little to pad a publisher’s profit margin.

Others try to draw the younger demographic to their content by paying to play in Y Gen social sandboxes, hoping to drive traffic back to their websites. Unfortunately what awaits the reader at the publisher’s online home are aggravating barriers –either a requirement to register, or worse, a paywall.

Most millennials will quickly abandon sites with gateways, never to return. And those few who do venture in, typically won’t stay long because the presentation of the news doesn’t lend itself to frictionless discovery of content that they trust.

Consumer-Centric Content Presentation

Giving readers the content presentation they want isn’t rocket science, but it’s not without its challenges, especially with today’s plethora of platforms and browsers. Combine that with the need for a responsive and native user interface that offers curated content, personalization, interactivity and social engagement and you’ve got yourself a content presentation conundrum!

Solving this puzzle for our publishing partners is the driving force in how we present content to the 30M readers that flock to PressReader from their homes, during their commute, at work and while travelling.

We discovered from over a decade powering thousands of publishers’ digital properties that non-replica reader retention falls far below that of its replica counterparts.   Further research and analysis revealed why that was the case and resulted in the design of a more engaging content discovery and presentation engine, which we called SmartFlow.

Powered by HMTL5, SmartFlow complements PressReader’s enhanced replica presentation with a continuous horizontal stream of content tailored to the explicit and implicit preferences of a reader.

SmarFlow Frictionless Discovery EngineFavored by digital natives, SmartFlow takes readers on a frictionless discovery journey where they are treated with crowd-curated content enriched with visual cues and features that enhance their reading experience.

Under the Hood of SmartFlow

To better serve the needs of today’s new generation of readers, SmartFlow was designed to meet 4 key UI/UX objectives:

1.      Maximize engagement

In printed publications readers are always exposed to more than one piece of content on a page, creating an immersive content discovery experience that keeps them entertained and engaged.

But on websites every article lives on its own page, isolating it from all other stories. Once a person is finished reading an article, they are often left with no alternative but to click back in their browser to look for something else to read. This repetitive routine is anything but frictionless.

SmartFlow always presents content in an endless horizontal stream where multiple articles are visible at all times and every swipe presents more stories for the user to discover – news relevant to their interests (e.g. topics, specific publications or sections, columns, etc.), plus curated content designed to peak their curiosity.

And unlike digital replicas and apps like News360, which still require readers to click to a new page or website to continue reading, PressReader offers “in place” expansion of articles — seamlessly adjusting not only the article’s layout, but all content around it to make room for the extra text and images.

SmartFlow maximizes engagement by fulfilling readers’ needs for frictionless content discovery and consumption.

2.      Captivate through crowd curation

competition for eyeballsIt probably comes as no surprise that today’s younger generation is more topic-focused and social and less masthead-loyal than its predecessors.*

They care about current affairs and news, but they are averse to having authoritative editors curate it for them; they prefer to discover content that is “curated by the crowd” (i.e. friends, family and influencers on social media they trust).

Needless to say, competition for millennial eyeballs is fierce, which is why now more than ever, publishers need to continually invest into creating compelling content for these discriminating readers rather than internalizing technology development.

SmartFlow uses behavioral analytics generated in real-time by PressReader’s proprietary Reading Map technology to continually modify the newsfeed of stories for each reader to ensure that the highest quality, most interesting and captivating content is always presented to each person – quality that is based on an article’s ability to retain other readers’ interest.

The result is a seamless, frictionless discovery mechanism that aggregates the best content from multiple sources and engages readers up to 10 times longer than digital replicas or indexed news sites.

Netflix and Amazon set the bar for recommendation engines for videos and books.  SmartFlow has done the same for newspapers and magazines.

3.      Visually stimulate reader’s senses

Today’s web developers tend to use a lot of templates for consistency and ease of implementation, but printed newspapers and magazines don’t cookie-cut content that way. To keep readers interested, each article in a printed publication looks unique in terms of its layout, font, color, size, location, number of images, etc.

The same is true with SmartFlow. To avoid monotony, which leads to abandonment, SmartFlow uses visual cues from the printed media (headline size, font type and size, placement, color, pictures and captions, etc.) to grab a readers’ attention and continually stimulate it to retain their interest.

Then, to ensure that the presentation of the content is optimized for any platform and any browser, SmartFlow uses a predictive algorithm that builds, on the fly, all possible layouts of the content for whatever device a reader uses.

It then tests each layout against the platform’s capabilities and chooses the optimal display for the device/browser combination. As one can imagine, with 30M readers and the diversity of devices in their hands, the amount of data being processed, tested and interpreted in real time by SmartFlow is astronomical.

The sophistication and complexity of this functionality cannot be overstated. But it’s not the first time PressReader has pushed the innovation envelope on behalf of its publishers and readers. PressReader’s engineering team has been pioneering trailblazing technology since 1999 with content processing and presentation technologies that many competitors and a few publishers have attempted to replicate and failed.

4.      Maximize advertising impact

In traditional printed newspapers and magazines, the layout of a publication’s content with advertising is intelligently planned, resulting in effective and high-impact advertising which justifies high revenues for publishers.

But today’s online advertising doesn’t adequately serve readers, publishers or advertisers because:

– Ads are intrusive (e.g. splash or interstitial ads block content)
– Contextual ads based on keywords often result in inappropriate results(e.g. automobile ads displayed next to either a massive recall story of the same brand, or, even worse, an article about a car crash)
– Ads rotate making them unpredictable
– Ads can’t be bookmarked or shared like other content (a concept which should not be dismissed by publishers)

SmartFlow was designed to solve these problems by integrating in-flow ads within the newsfeed that are relevant to the reader, non-intrusive, consistent, predictable and interactive.

By treating advertisements like all other content, SmartFlow maximizes their impact on readers and revenue potential for publishers.

Start your engine!

The digital publishing landscape has become as crowded as the most traffic-congested highways in the world with content being created, curated and shared by almost every business and person on the web.

Competition for eyeballs is fierce, but keeping them all focused on your content is even harder when those eyeballs belong to readers who are generations apart in terms of age and presentation preferences.

Designing immersive reading experiences that attract and retain the interest of today’s growing population of “digital natives” without alienating traditional news readers has been PressReader’s mission for over a decade.

So, if your content isn’t getting the attention and retention it deserves, let’s talk! With PressReader’s enhanced digital replica + SmartFlow presentation engine, we can get your biggest asset firing on all cylinders in no time!

 Start your engines