Publisher Websites Using Technology to Build Audiences

Publisher websites from The Atlantic and Future taking major strides; Financial Times announces growth in digital subscriber numbers

The publisher websites with the greatest ability to drive traffic and build audiences utilize proven strategies and relevant technology. Today we take a look at some of these publishers and the changes they’ve made to their websites recently.

We begin with The Atlantic, which has made changes to its publisher website to deal with ad blockers. Digiday reports, “Starting April 10, the news and culture publisher will require people using ad-blocking software to pay $3.99 a month or $39.99 a year for an ad-free version or turn off their ad blockers and view an ad-supported version of the site. The Atlantic planned the move to follow its converting the site to https. Publishers have been undertaking that process to provide secure connections for visitors and in anticipation of Google giving preference to https sites in its search results.”

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“The publication has been taking on ad blockers for more than a year, starting with messages requesting they whitelist the site. Some publishers have circumvented ad blockers and served ads to those people anyway, but The Atlantic didn’t go that route, lest it upset people who already expressed a clear preference not to see ads.”

The articles continues with a look at what this action may lead to for The Atlantic. “The Atlantic fully expects 60 percent of those ad blockers to abandon the site when presented with the message. There’s some anxiety about that. But as Lau sees it, those people aren’t contributing financially to the site, so losing them won’t have a big financial impact anyway.”

Next, we move to Financial Times, which has increased its traffic and digital subscribers. According to the Press Gazette, “The Financial Times has revealed that it now has a record 650,000 digital subscribers with gains fueled by Brexit and the US presidential election.”

Furthermore, “In “annual results” it also confirmed that digital revenues have now overtaken print.”

It appears that Brexit and the U.S. presidential election had an impact on these numbers. “In the weeks surrounding the UK referendum on leaving the European Union and the US presidential election, the FT says it says new subscriber numbers were up 75 per cent and 33 per cent respectively.”

Lastly, we visit Future Publishing, which has been using data and its publisher websites to drive more traffic and sell more affiliate products. Digiday reports, “In the last year, Future combed through data to determine what products people search for, and it then created articles that match those individuals’ interests, complete with affiliate links. That approach doubled e-commerce transactions in 2016 to 1.1 million, bringing in £4.3 million ($5.4 million) in annual revenue for the publisher, 15 percent of its total revenue.”

“Many publishers are investing into commerce operations, though they’re taking varied approaches. For many publishers, their commerce operations are editorially led. This means the commercial aspects, typically affiliate links, are introduced at the end of the process rather than lead the process. For Future, data and commercial concerns are brought together at the start.”

The article goes on to discuss how this process works for the site. “Future’s tech platform, Hawk, gathers 45,000 API feeds from retailers, including Amazon, John Lewis and Carphone Warehouse, matching up the most relevant tags in the feeds to the page script to surface the most competitive deals for each article. There are some 200 different commerce elements that can be added to the page depending on what need the content serves. This could be price comparison feeds within an article on the latest handset, or discounted deals on a product within a buyer’s guide.”

Our subscription website news posts will continue to share information on changes made to publisher websites.


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