Instant Articles present new opportunities and challenges for publishers

Facebook Instant Articles
Instant Articles are a fast and beautiful way for readers to access content directly from their Facebook Newsfeed.

Debuting in May of 2015, Facebook Instant Articles are nearing their first birthday, and in that time marketers and large publishers have had a chance to experiment with publishing full articles directly to the newsfeed without redirecting users to an external site.

When the project was first proposed to publishers, one of the major advantages was that hosting the content on Facebook’s servers dramatically reduced load times. As the name implies, Instant Articles found articles loading nearly instantly within the app.  External links took 5-10 seconds by the time the browser would launch and the page could load. The purported benefit was that users would click on an article more readily as they could more immediately determine if the content was of interest. The goal for many publishers is for pages to launch in under two seconds.

In a move that surprised many, the terms of these partnerships were surprisingly favorable for publishers, allowing them to sell and embed their own ads and receive 100% of the revenue, or use Facebook’s in-house advertising services, surrendering 30% of the profits in the revenue sharing deal. Facebook also provides advanced reporting metric courtesy of Google Analytics and Adobe Omniture to ensure publishers could continue to monitor performance.

But while the initial impressions seemed mutually beneficial, there are areas where publishers have cause for concern both in the near-term and in the big picture when considering the service’s viability.

Allowing Facebook to become the new “gate keeper”

With great power comes great responsibility and Facebook is increasingly becoming the primary traffic source for many publishers. As this dynamic and the percentage of readers continues to increase, it’s possible that publishers will stand to lose leverage in the relationship if they’re beholden to a channel providing such a large percentage of viewers.

Advertising Limitations

At present, Facebook limits the number of advertisements (two) that publishers can run within an Instant Article, and currently doesn’t allow native ads to run. While the rationale is to boost of the value of the content in the eyes of the reader by preventing content from being over-stuffed with promotional material, it’s an element of control that many publishers and advertisers are finding themselves reluctant to give up.

Traffic Inconsistencies

Since Instant Article content is hosted on Facebook’s servers rather than the publisher’s, it stands to reason that traffic volume may shift from one source to the next when implementing the strategy. But while a reader going from column A to column B is fine, publishers are concerned with the ability for the reader to continue their journey. Since the reader never leaves the app they’re unable to fully explore the publisher’s site without a navigation bar or quality calls to action, no matter how helpful your hyperlinks, effectively limiting the time spent consuming conduct or finding other material.

Many publishers view the service with cautious optimism, but Facebook’s terms of service will be the pivotal point in the success of the program and its publishers. As we’ve seen with video, and then again with live video, Facebook’s newsfeed algorithms are subject to constant changes, so while the current environment is favorable, the company’s history of rapid change is worries some as the next algorithmic iteration may devalue a publisher’s heavy investment in instant articles.

Retaliation from Google or Twitter

To ignore the other titans of the internet is to turn a blind eye to competition. Facebook’s Instant Articles have seen momentum in partner acquisition, but the rollout to users was relatively slow, giving competitors ample time to respond. Google’s own “Accelerated Mobile Pages” (AMP) also dramatically reduces load times on mobile by leveraging simplified HTML code and the search engine’s page caching technique. Twitter seems to be aligning with the search giant and collaborated in the development of AMP, making an attractive alternative for publishers who want viewers to remain within their site’s ecosystem while maintaining total control over advertising.

Instant Articles: Still a fledgling offering

The potential red flags were evident this past March, when some publishers saw traffic decrease 20-25%, with no obvious explanations offered by either party. Like all innovation, Instant Articles are a work in progress. Facebook will continue to refine the offering, but emerging technology is often rough around the edges or even prone to unforeseen threats in the form of bugs, or shifting behavioral changes. The abnormality in March’s traffic might just be a blip on the radar, but some are concerned that it may be indicative of potential broader instability that needs attention.

Ultimately, this battle for viewer attention is far from over, and publishers would always be wise to continue monitoring their individual performance but keep tabs on the industry as a whole to take the market’s pulse and identify trends signaling an opportunity to employ new techniques rather than go with the flow.

Here at Intermarkets, we will be testing out Facebook Instant Articles in the upcoming weeks.  We will be monitoring performance results closely to ensure that our users are getting the best user experience, distribution is consistent, and monetization remains strong.

 

AdvProg_1of3Wednesday, a number of Intermarketers attended the Advanced Programmatic Buyers & Sellers training in Washington DC.  The all-day event was hosted by the IAB, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, who along with its 650+ member companies develops technical standards and best practices for the digital advertising industry.

The class, led by Matt Prohaska of Prohaska Consulting, provided participants with a better understanding of the programmatic media ecosystem, working knowledge of the key technologies and programmatic ad stack across platforms.  It also touched upon “Programmatic Guaranteed” and provided live demonstrations from vendors from both the ad tech side as well as from the buyer perspective.

For Intermarkets it was a chance to really hone in on intricacies of Programmatic and learn the nuances of this ever growing digital buying mechanism.  Recently eMarketer stated that programmatic digital display ad spending will reach over $22Bn in 2016, a jump of 39.7% over last year, which represents 67% of total digital display ad spending in the US.   With such a large percentage, Intermarkets is committed to offering products and services in the way that people want to buy.

DC Programmatic Happy Hour sponsored by OpenX at The Washington Post

The night cap was a chance to unwind, network and talk shop with our colleagues in the industry. The venue was the new and beautiful Washington Post Headquarters building.  There was a wide mix of companies in attendance – publishers included – WashingtonPost, Philly.com, WebFinance, DailyCaller, IJReview to name a few; technology companies included OpenX, Rubicon Project; Agency representatives included such firms as Ogilvy and Mullen Lowe.

 

AdvProg_feature

The highlight of the night was a panel hosted by OpenX with Martin Calhoun, Director, Digital Advertising Operations and Yield Management at Philly.com and Jason Tollestrup – Director, Programmatic Advertising and Business Intelligence at the Washington Post. The discussion focused on programmatic and more specifically how each of the companies has spent the last year or two implementing header bidding solutions. Philly.com took a very cautious approach, making sure that they focused on the right partners and right solutions – as well as making sure they made changes that were in line with the entire sales strategy.  Similarly at the Post, much of their time is evaluating the right partners and making sure that each new partner provides a unique quality about their demand.

Our own Erik Requidan, VP of Sales and Programmatic, asked an interesting question about how buyers keep to date with everything that publishers and technology vendors are working on behind the scenes. Since each ad stack and publisher implementation is different, both panelists agreed that publishers need to spend more time with media buyers, to explain, uncover, and inform the best ways to interact with publishers.

 

A Referral Traffic Leader*

The Drudge Report is unstoppable

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: when it comes to web traffic, the Drudge Report is unstoppable. With 58 million visits a month*, and 406 million visits* from January to July 2015*, the Drudge Report is an in-demand source of breaking internet news. The referral traffic* alone, delivers 791 million visits* to 3,362 other websites*, which debuts the Drudge Report, as a referral traffic leader*.

Most recently, SimilarWeb reported that out of the top U.S. news sites, the Drudge Report is the number one source for news referral traffic, to GOP candidates’ websites. Consequently, the Drudge Report continues to be a trusted source of GOP news and valued information. With political campaigning afoot, it’s more critical now than ever, to have a targeted advertisement, in front of the targeted audience. And with these results, you can bet the Drudge Report will deliver more votes to the polls next year.

viewServices
Sources:
*SimilarWeb,10/19/15

big news about The Political Insider

Nine months ago, Intermarkets launched a content program to transform The Political Insider from an opt-in email list to a digital news publication and social community. Since then, the site has seen impressive growth, and a cohesive, engaged following on social media.

Here’s a short list of milestones and big news about The Political Insider since its re-launch:

  • Top 10 most socially engaged media outlets in March 2015.
  • Grew 14-fold on Facebook to 1.4 million fans.
  • Top Facebook posts have reached 10 million people.
  • Popular articles have reached #4 on the Viral News Chart.
  • 7 million web visitors in March 2015.
  • Consistently a top 500 site according to Quantcast.

Several months ago, our Business Development Manager Vipul Mistry wrote about some of his insights in growing The Political Insider’s social presence. Check them out here—they clearly worked!

Those engagement numbers also tell us we are giving consumers what they want, which is the most important factor to success.

Check out our press release further detailing these milestones and more here.

Earlier this year, Intermarkets teamed up with the data scientists at SimilarWeb to append the Drudge Report’s referral traffic, and its impact on advertising and other publishers. Conclusion: the Drudge Report is a rare, unique premium publisher driving hundreds of millions of external visits each month. (Scroll down for infographic)

The Drudge Report has a profound effect on America’s premier news outlets: it’s the top source for referral traffic to industry powerhouses like Fox News, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, and Reuters among others. That alone is extraordinary. But the Drudge Report also has a disproportionate impact on entertainment outlets as well.

When we look at the advertising side, the importance of knowing your audience is paramount—and The Drudge Report’s traffic is nearly 90% direct. Premium publishers attract, and can be defined in part by, the loyalty of their audience. The Drudge Report’s two million unique daily visits and 700 million monthly visits certainly qualify.

In the Drudge Report, advertisers find content quality, powerful distribution power, and an audience they can rely on, while publishers benefit from the Drudge Report’s referral power.

Take a look at our infographic and let us know what you think about the power of the Drudge Report!

Drudge Report Infographic
Drudge Report Infographic

Check out SimilarWeb here.

Intermarkets has been the exclusive ad representative for the Drudge Report for over 15 years, and has created a leadership position enabling Premium Programmatic Solutions for advertisers.

It’s exactly 8 days until Election Day 2014. All the fundraising is done. The battle for positioning is over for the most part. The attacks, counterattacks, and defenses have mostly been launched.

Now there’s only time left for two things: convince persuadable voters that you’re the best candidate for the job, and get your supporters to the polls.

GOTV with Intermarkets bannerGOTV

The Intermarkets portfolio is the best place to reach both of these audiences. Our exclusive publishers—like The Drudge Report, CNS News, the Media Research Center, and others—combine for over 28 million unique users every month.

These are the most active, politically astute audiences online. These are the community leaders, influencers, and activists you need on your side to win.

Our exclusive portfolio is a crucial part of winning GOTV plans, but to win, candidates need more than just their base.

View our portfolio here.

Persuadable Voters

Campaigns don’t stop with the base, and the Intermarkets portfolio has very strong reach into right-leaning, independent, and center-left voters. The Drudge Report and our other exclusive publishers, like RefDesk, The Grocery Game, and Creators.com are serious hubs for soft Democrats and independent swing voters.

Our huge audience can be targeted to millions of visitors of all political persuasions.

We are the #1 referrer to the top news and political outlets. The New York Times, The Washington Post, and nearly every other national news outlet. These are the voters you need to convince to win.

Putting Your GOTV in Context

Context is crucial. Your ads are more powerful when they compliment the news or content your audience is already reading. They can be run while voters are reading their political news or searching for info that may sway their vote between now and Election Day.

We can serve your foreign policy ad to users reading about ISIS or Putin, your jobs pitch to families worried about the economy, or your ObamaCare hit to the voters reading the latest healthcare news.

This is it. You can’t afford to leave any votes on the table.

viewServices

Hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent by “outside” groups this political cycle.

When you add in candidates and committees, we’re talking billions. Learn more about how online ads surpass broadcast TV here.

And just like everything else, political campaigns are won and lost at the margins. Increasingly, those margins will come in the digital space. InTheCapital relays research showing a major increase in digital spending by candidates and other electioneers.

While TV spending will also increase, traditional viewership is down. Spending on robo-calls and direct mail is not expected to grow. That means the battleground for eyes and ears will take place somewhere else – banners, social, pre-roll, video ads, email, and other places we haven’t even thought of yet.

Digital Media is Not Mass-Media

Everyone knows Team Obama crushed digital in 2008 and 2012. Particularly their ability to get promoters to do their work for them. Think about it: instead of talking to one voter at a time over the phone, a campaign could get 10 supporters to share their ad or materials with 10 of their friends each on social media. Talk about ROI. It’s a process the libertarian group FreedomWorks calls “digital door-knocking.”

But it’s not just that, it’s the ability to micro-target. It’s the ability to get a tailored message that will move specific people on a specific issue at a specific time through a specific medium. Everything can be customized. Effectiveness can be tracked down to the penny. It’s not just more effective, it’s more accountable.

Has your opponent slammed you on TV? You can respond to their buckshot tactic with laser-focused responses in key demographics. Is your opponent already targeting you in specific subsets? Follow them and target these viewers with your defense or counter.

And don’t think the Obama campaigns were a fluke because of their youth support. 71% of online adults use Facebook. 49% of adults over 65 use social media. These numbers will continue to grow as more retailers and services expand their online reach.

Campaigns need to follow suit.

viewServices

7 Reasons You Should Be Advertising on the Drudge Report

You know the Drudge Report—the deceptively simple website that has been breaking stories like the Monica Lewinsky scandal since its 1997 rise to fame. Boasting 21 million uniques* each month, the Drudge Report is the primary online source of breaking news and information for savvy readers, the media, political insiders, and influential opinion leaders.

Read on for seven reasons that the Drudge Report is a uniquely effective place to make an impact and drive ROI:

1. The Drudge Report drives more news traffic than Twitter or Facebook.

The Drudge Report may present like a news website, but it drives traffic like a web portal. A study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that the Drudge Report drove more links than Facebook or Twitter on all the sites to which it drove traffic. The site’s influence “cuts across both traditional organizations such as ABC News to more tabloid-style outlets such as the New York Post.”

Why This Matters: By advertising on the Drudge Report, you can reach a more robust audience before they disperse and follow links elsewhere.

2. 90% of the Drudge Report’s traffic is direct.

While most websites receive the majority of their traffic via referrals (a.k.a. links from other websites), the Drudge Report draws visitors on its own accord. The industry average for direct traffic hovers around 37%, but a full 90% of Drudge Report readers count the site as an important enough part of their daily routine that they seek it out, bookmark it, and save it as a favorite.**

Why This Matters: Reach readers where they go first and often—become a part of their daily routine!

3. Readers spend an average 25 minutes or more on the site.

Speaking of daily routines, Drudge Report readers spend more time perusing the site than most of us do reading our morning papers. In fact, the Drudge Report’s average time on site is a full 20 more minutes than the industry average time on site of 4:50.**

Why This Matters: 25+ minutes is a lot more time for your ads to make an impact!

4. The Drudge Report is the #1 referral source for top news sites across the web.

This list includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • FoxNews.com
  • WashingtonPost.com
  • CNN.com
  • Politico.com
  • NYTimes.com
  • WSJ.com
  • ABCNews.go
  • Ap.org
  • WashingtonTimes.com**

Why This Matters: When you compare the costs of advertising on these and other sites to the Drudge Report, where much of the traffic originates, you’ll see a clear difference in value. Drudge Report advertising reaches high-demand audiences at a fraction of the cost, decreasing your bottom line while increasing your ROI.

5. The Drudge Report is politically balanced.

According to comScore data, the majority of Drudge Report readers are actually Independents, followed by Republicans and Democrats.

Why This Matters: For brand advertisers and agencies, this means you’re able to reach the audience without worrying about political affiliation. For political campaigns, the Drudge Report is a great place to reach the swing voters who can make or break a campaign.

6. In fact, the Drudge Report is the most neutral of all news outlets.

In UCLA Policial Science Professor Tim Groseclose’s groundbreaking book, Left Turn, he ranked popular news media outlets on a scale of Very Liberal (0) to Very Conservative (100). His conclusion? “According to my analysis, the Drudge Report is approximately the most fair, balanced, and centrist news outlet in the United States.

Why This Matters: The Drudge Report’s neutrality has inspired millions of loyal readers to see it as a trusted news source—advertising on the site associates your message with that same level of respectability.

7. The Drudge Report is considered by journalists to be a crucial source for breaking news.

David Chalian of ABC News says, “Because of the sheer number of people who look at it and because of the attention it gets from the media, what appears on Drudge can, for a few minutes or an entire day, drive what appears elsewhere, making it, a force in the political news cycle for both the press and the campaigns.”

Why This Matters: The Drudge Report is the perfect place to get your message into the hands of the people who control the story.

Ready to get started?

Founded by Matt Drudge in the early days of the web, the Drudge Report continues to deliver lively and  provocative content to millions of people every day. Visit our site here to see how advertising on the Drudge Report can benefit your company!

Sources:

*Quantcast, 10/12/13–10/19/13

**SimilarWeb.com, 11/21/13