tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/content Latest Content content from Econsultancy 2017-10-06T08:00:00+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69470 2017-10-06T08:00:00+01:00 2017-10-06T08:00:00+01:00 Google ditches first click free, embraces paywalls Patricio Robles <p>One of the biggest problems first click free presented publishers with was the fact that consumers, especially those loath to pay money for subscriptions, often took advantage of the policy to circumvent paywalls. Many learned that after finding a paywalled article of interest through another channel, such as social media, Google Search and Google News could be used to access the article thanks to first click free.</p> <p>Eventually, the abuse of first click free factored into some publishers' decisions to abandon first click free and accept the consequences. For instance, the Wall Street Journal revealed that its Google Search traffic dropped by more than a third when it <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68801-the-wsj-ditches-google-s-first-click-free-falls-back-on-stronger-paywall">stopped adhering to the policy at the beginning of the year</a>.</p> <p>But after months of testing with the New York Times and Financial Times, Google decided to drop first click free in favor of a “flexible sampling” model that will allow premium publishers to select how many free articles are delivered through search results.</p> <p>In a blog post, Google <a href="https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2017/10/enabling-more-high-quality-content.html">explained</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>We found that while [first click free] is a reasonable sampling model, publishers are in a better position to determine what specific sampling strategy works best for them. Therefore, we are removing FCF as a requirement for Search, and we encourage publishers to experiment with different free sampling schemes, as long as they stay within the updated webmaster guidelines. We call this Flexible Sampling.</p> </blockquote> <p>Flexible sampling comes in two forms: metering, “which provides users with a quota of free articles to consume”, and lead-in, “which offers a portion of an article’s content without it being shown in full.”</p> <p>Google says that “lead-in clearly provides more utility and added value to users” because it “allows users a taste of how valuable the content may be.”</p> <p>But for publishers that prefer metering, Google is recommending monthly instead of daily metering and suggests they start with 10 free articles per month.</p> <h3>A case of be careful what you wish for?</h3> <p>While publishers are celebrating the end of first click free, Google's move is not completely altruistic. Long-term, Google's VP of News, Richard Gingras, <a href="https://www.blog.google/topics/journalism-news/driving-future-digital-subscriptions/">stated</a> that Google will create “a suite of products and services to help news publishers reach new audiences, drive subscriptions and grow revenue.”</p> <p>He added, “We are also looking at how we can simplify the purchase process and make it easy for Google users to get the full value of their subscriptions across Google’s platforms.”</p> <p>In other words, instead of letting publishers do what they want free of first click free, it would appear that Google intends to try to find a way to insert itself into their subscription businesses.</p> <p>This is interesting in light of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69150-google-contributor-what-you-need-to-know">Google Contributor</a>, an offering that allows users to pay to remove ads from the sites they visit.</p> <p>Of course, if Google can help publishers profit, many will likely err on the side of working with the search giant, but given that the publishing industry has previously expressed considerable concern about Google's power, expect some bumps in the road.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69436 2017-09-25T10:22:04+01:00 2017-09-25T10:22:04+01:00 How new-media brand Refinery29 achieved international growth Nikki Gilliland <p>According to the publisher, people spent a total of 50m hours on the site in 2016, while its newsletter is said to generate a 63% click-to-open rate on average.</p> <p>So, in today’s increasingly competitive market, what makes Refinery29 such a success? Here’s a bit of a back-story of Refinery29 as well as what makes it stand out from the digital crowd. </p> <h3>1. A distinct and diverse brand </h3> <p>When Refinery29 first began in 2005, women’s media was mainly dedicated to fashion, beauty and celebrity, with other areas of interest – such as news, politics and careers – only being found in niche or mainstream media titles. </p> <p>Even though Refinery29 was set up with fashion in mind, specifically to become an ecommerce platform for local and independent designers, it started to see real success thanks its unique approach to women’s content.</p> <p>Recognising the fact that women care about much more than clothing or skincare, it aims to cater for a wide and diverse range of interests. Now with a global audience, it also places a huge focus on diversity in terms of people, their lifestyle, and opinions. </p> <p>As well as more specific content verticals, like money and health, this diversity is also reflected in its use of imagery. Last year, Refinery29 launched the ‘67% project’, which is based on the fact that 67% of women are above a US size 14, but have less than 2% of media representation. In order to combat this, Refinery29 partnered with Getty Images to create a new selection of stock images to better represent its audience. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/9063/67_.JPG" alt="" width="500" height="495"></p> <p>Refinery29 now uses this imagery throughout its websites, which in turn, has helped it to establish a unique and highly recognisable brand image. </p> <h3>2. Localised and personalised content</h3> <p>In 2015, Refinery29 expanded overseas, setting up offices in both the UK and Germany. Instead of treating these as separate entities of the overall business, however, the brand works hard to maintain a global mindset.</p> <p>So, while a large portion of the content is created by local teams, there is a crossover whereby US content appears on the UK site and vice versa – and it is only mildly edited for country-specific terminology or relevance. </p> <p>Alongside this, Refinery29 draws on data to discover what topics might resonate in certain markets. For example, ‘The Money Diaries’, which was a series originally launched for the US market, is now consistently one of the top-five performing stories by page-views in the UK.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">This week's money diary follows a Mancunian learning arts officer on 18k: <a href="https://t.co/vjHQcIdB7Y">https://t.co/vjHQcIdB7Y</a></p> — Refinery29 UK (@Refinery29UK) <a href="https://twitter.com/Refinery29UK/status/910438638407753728">September 20, 2017</a> </blockquote> <p>Refinery29’s strategy isn’t only to create content that resonates with markets, of course. It is also focused on personalising content to individuals where possible. This means personalising emails, which means highlighting articles of interest based on past user behaviour. But also, it means creating content that is highly personal in nature – and again this part of the publisher’s inclusive approach.</p> <p>So instead of writing an article about finding a certain item of clothing, for instance, it will write multiple articles about finding the same item for different body types, then leaving it up to readers to naturally find the content that is most relevant to them.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/9064/swimsuit_article.JPG" alt="" width="750" height="461"></p> <h3>3. Taking social seriously</h3> <p>One way Refinery29 delivers this kind of relevant content is on social media, with the brand implementing a segmented strategy to engage users on all platforms.</p> <p>This means that instead of rolling out similar content across the board, it uses a channel-by-channel approach (along with channel-specific teams) to create and distribute content. It it is now said to have an entire team dedicated to Facebook Live, with the brand increasing focus in this area in the past year. Similarly, it has a special team for Snapchat Discover, where it creates custom-content that is typically geared towards a younger audience.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/9065/Refinery29_Snap.JPG" alt="" width="730" height="407"></p> <p>Another part of its social strategy is to focus on specific verticals, with the brand <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68790-pros-and-cons-of-creating-multiple-brand-facebook-pages" target="_blank">creating multiple Facebook pages</a> in order to tap into specific audience interest, such as ‘wellness’.</p> <p>Its not an uncommon strategy – Buzzfeed and Huffington Post also do the same. And while there can be downsides, such as being able to maintain a steady stream of original content, it appears to have worked for Refinery29.</p> <p>This is mainly because it taps into the idea of the curated News Feed. In other words, with the Facebook algorithm favouring a certain type of content, brands are no longer able to pin-point or ascertain what people are seeing overall. So, by embracing specific segments and creating ‘micro-communities’, Refinery29 is able to foster mini pools of real engagement and loyalty.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FTryLivingWithLucie%2Fvideos%2F121480258517571%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=560" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <h3>4. Credible branded content</h3> <p>While Refinery29 has moved away from its original ecommerce set-up, it still makes money via branded partnerships – mainly in the form of sponsored content and affiliates.</p> <p>However, with a dedication to delivering content that is highly valuable to its audience, it treats branded content in much the same way. </p> <p>Interestingly, data suggests that two out of three readers will purchase a product after seeing Refinery29 content related to it. Not only does this suggest that its wider strategy (in terms of voice, style and personalisation) is working, but it also means that brands will show even greater interest in the publication.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Refinery29 has also ventured into events and experiential marketing – which is another way for brands to get their products in front of a highly engaged audience. It recently held its annual immersive exhibition, 29Rooms, whereby seven out of 29 rooms were sponsored by brands ranging from Clarins to Cadillac.</p> <p>For the audience, this also means getting the chance to experience Refinery29 offline, meaning that their connection to the brand will increase.</p> <p> <img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/9066/Insta_Refinery29.JPG" alt="" width="750" height="531"></p> <p><strong><em>Related reading:</em></strong></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68121-why-i-love-the-pool-and-its-refreshing-approach-to-publishing/" target="_blank">Why I love The Pool and its refreshing approach to publishing</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67426-why-the-brands-as-publishers-trend-is-utter-nonsense">Why the 'brands as publishers' trend is utter nonsense</a></em></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3243 2017-08-16T04:20:51+01:00 2017-08-16T04:20:51+01:00 Mastering Customer Experience (CX) Management in the Digital Age <p>This 1-day intensive course is designed to give you a holistic understanding of the mind of today’s customer and delivers highly effective strategies to attract and retain them. This new and highly relevant course gives you the edge you need to be successful in today’s complex business environment.</p> <p>Quite simply, without customers you don’t have a business. Winning customers today has a become a lot more complicated as people have changed the way they buy goods and services.</p> <p>Research indicates that typically 80% of your business comes from 20% of your loyal customers.</p> <p>But in today’s customer controlled world, earning loyalty is a real challenge.  This is because we are dealing with a very smart and discerning customer who is looking for immense value, has very high expectations and hyper researching everything.</p> <p>Yet, innovative and smart businesses have created customer experience formulas that work extremely well for them. Zappos, Disney, Airbnb, Virgin, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Hubspot among others continue to deliver amazing experiences and drive sales.</p> <p>This unique and insightful course teaches you how successful companies design and deliver amazing customer experiences. It gives you an insider view and highly effective tips and tricks to deliver amazing experiences at every brand touch point to win and retain your customers.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3242 2017-08-16T04:05:45+01:00 2017-08-16T04:05:45+01:00 Proving Digital ROI <p>A one-day workshop which will demystify the concept of ROI (return on investment)  by instructing participants about the key metrics, calculation, and techniques for reporting marketing performance to management.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:Report/4551 2017-07-24T11:31:00+01:00 2017-07-24T11:31:00+01:00 Content Strategy Best Practice Guide <h2>Overview</h2> <p>The aim of this research was to identify best practice approaches, techniques, challenges and opportunities around digital content strategy.</p> <h2>Research methodology</h2> <p>The methodology involved two main phases:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Phase 1:</strong> Desk research to identify relevant issues, examples and models.</li> <li> <strong>Phase 2:</strong> a series of in-depth interviews with a range of senior digital and non-digital marketing practitioners, Heads of Content, UX and Content Strategists. Interviewees for the research covered sectors as diverse as financial services, media, public sector, NGO and FMCG.</li> </ul> <h2>What you'll learn</h2> <p>This best practice guide:</p> <ul> <li>outlines some key definitions</li> <li>sets out a core process for content strategy in the digital age</li> <li>defines some key strategic models that enable the smart application of content in the service of achieving marketing objectives.</li> </ul> <p>Included in this report are the following:</p> <p><strong>The content strategy process</strong></p> <p>We define the importance of tying back to a solid strategic process that is aligned to answering the fundamental questions of strategy:</p> <ul> <li>Where are we now?</li> <li>Where do we want to get to?</li> <li>How do we get there?</li> <li>How do we know when we’ve got there?</li> </ul> <p>Our research has demonstrated this alignment to be critical to effective content strategy implementation.</p> <p><strong>Insight and persona generation</strong></p> <p>We discuss the key thinking and methodologies around successful persona generation, how brands are using personas to inform strategy and how relating content to a solid understanding of the customer journey through customer journey mapping can establish a firm foundation for success.</p> <p><strong>Aligning content with brand strategy</strong></p> <p>Defining a content marketing mission, and a key model for relating content to brand purpose and essence.</p> <p><strong>Distribution and format</strong></p> <p>We set out a key model for building an effective content ecosystem (borrowed from YouTube) – ‘Hero, Hub, Help’, look at an example brand that shows exemplary practice in this context, and consider the best ways of linking format selection with objective.</p> <p><strong>Optimisation culture</strong></p> <p>The practitioners interviewed for this report stressed the importance of developing a testing culture to ensure continuous, not just episodic, test and learn. When combined with a structured content calendar, this can bring both alignment and optimisation of resources and impact.</p> <p><strong>Content and technology</strong></p> <p>The marketing and content technology landscape is more complex than ever so how might practitioners best navigate through this complexity and make smart decisions about technology? Technology will play an ever-increasing role in the content marketing process and ecosystem, so how can marketers set themselves up for success?</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69266 2017-07-21T11:30:00+01:00 2017-07-21T11:30:00+01:00 A 10-step process to writing excellent B2B blog posts Ben Davis <p>Here are 10 steps I go through when working on a blog post.</p> <p>Note that this isn't a full guide to content marketing – it doesn't cover strategy, distribution, reporting or process. You can consult our own Econsultancy reports if you're a subscriber (<a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/digital-content-strategy-best-practice-guide">Best Practice Guide to Content Strategy</a> and a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/b2b-content-marketing-best-practice-guide">Best Practice Guide to B2B Content Marketing</a>).</p> <h3>1. Pick a topic</h3> <p>If you are short of ideas and there isn't an obviously outstanding trend in your industry that your customers are fretting about (for us at the moment it's AI, <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/training/courses/gdpr-data-driven-marketing">GDPR</a>, or the perennial favourite, customer experience) there are lots of ways to settle on a topic. You can:</p> <ul> <li>look at what your competitors are writing about</li> <li>write about your own company challenges, such as your own marketing campaigns or product development</li> <li>dig into Google Analytics to look at what content has proved successful in the past</li> <li>brainstorm with your team</li> <li>see what's popular on social media – Buzzsumo can help with that</li> <li>ask your users with a simple survey or poll</li> <li>re-purpose previously successful content</li> </ul> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7643/topic.jpg" alt="topic" width="500"></p> <p><em>A Topic - recognisable to European chocolate lovers</em></p> <h3>2. Do your research</h3> <p>As far as I'm concerned, this is the most important part of writing – the part where you're not writing, only reading.</p> <p>I search for reading material in a variety of ways – it's not rocket science and it generally involves Google. I often:</p> <ul> <li>do Twitter searches</li> <li>look back through my favourite email newsletters</li> <li>perform obligatory trawls through Google</li> <li>do specific 'site:' searches on Google to search one particularly relevant domain</li> <li>use Google Scholar searches where relevant</li> </ul> <p>Of course, you want to make sure your sources are as recent and as authoritative as possible. Try to get back to the primary source wherever you can, whether it's a published survey (referenced in an article), a company report or a scientific paper. Until you look at the primary source, you may not know how robust it is (what was the methodology?) or if it has been misrepresented.</p> <h3>3. Find an angle</h3> <p>Through the course of your reading you should be refining what it is you're looking for. You might have a topic in mind (e.g. AI and marketing) without a specific angle. After some time you might decide to focus on one area (e.g. the difference between AI personalisation and more basic segmentation).</p> <p>As you refine your search, you'll start to find out whether your angle is a feasible one – can you find enough information on the topic, does it suit your audience, and can you pitch it at the right level?</p> <p>Don't be annoyed if your research comes to nothing or, on the other hand, if it turns out you may have too much information for just one blog post. That's all part and parcel of finding an angle.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7644/angle.png" alt="angle" width="225" height="225"></p> <p><em>An... angle</em></p> <h3>4. Canvas opinion</h3> <p>This is an offshoot of the 'do your research' phase. You should be asking relevant figures for their thoughts, or garnering such quotes from other publications.</p> <p>Opinion can come from within your own ranks, from your team or your customers. Quotes can be useful in assembling a straw man, backing up your argument, or simply in adding a bit of colour in a language the reader understands.</p> <h3>5. Create a structure</h3> <p>By now you should have lots of raw material. Some quotes, excerpts from other articles, visuals, your own opinions and digested ideas. Throw all this stuff into a document (you have probably been doing this as you research) and start to put it into an order that makes sense.</p> <p>I tend to do lots of cutting and pasting of content, shifting it around, before I go through and write it up properly. There's nothing worse than just starting writing without thinking about which thoughts are going to go where – that would be like beginning your masterpiece in ink (unless you're Picasso, it simply isn't feasible).</p> <p>As you go through this process, you'll get an idea of what might be missing from your argument or your article. Do you need extra case studies or some evidence to back up your assertions? Now is the time to get it.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7645/pisa.jpeg" alt="pisa tower" width="276" height="183"></p> <p><em>As long as it stands up</em></p> <h3>6. Make it flow</h3> <p>This is the point where you go through and knit everything together. It's the proper job of writing and there are many things to consider, chiefly: </p> <ul> <li>have you eliminated all the bullshit? Here are <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68827-19-words-and-phrases-to-weed-out-of-your-marketing-copy/">some words</a> to remove from your marketing copy, an article that's also relevant for aspiring bloggers. Oh and here are <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66631-20-banned-words-from-the-econsultancy-blog-and-their-alternatives">some other words</a> notionally banned from the Econsultancy blog.</li> <li>does the formatting make the post easy to read? <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66633-12-elements-of-a-user-friendly-blog-page/">Some guidance</a>.</li> <li>does your intro give enough away to keep readers interested?</li> <li>do you have a useful conclusion with 'takeaways' or findings?</li> </ul> <h3>7. Add some pictures</h3> <p>A simple instruction. If the article doesn't need charts, graphs etc. you still need to find a way to break up the text to avoid intimidating readers with a wall of text. Don't be scared of using memes or humorous images (unless the topic is particularly serious) – your reader will appreciate it. </p> <h3>8. Name your sources</h3> <p>A key point. All that research you did, make sure you reference it and include links. Not only is it good form but the reader may often want to crawl further down the rabbit hole by clicking through to your primary sources. </p> <h3>9. Add internal links</h3> <p>This isn't just about SEO and increasing link juice to some of your other pages. Where difficult concepts are discussed, you may need to provide your reader with recourse to some education or background reading – simply linking from technical terms to explainer content can be a big help for beginners.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7646/sausages.jpg" alt="sausage links" width="400"></p> <p><em>A more disgusting illustration, I could not find. <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/bandon1/98659358">Via Flickr</a></em></p> <h3>10. Perfect the headline</h3> <p>You've written your blog post – what happens next will amaze you.</p> <p>Not really.</p> <p>You just have to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63106-10-bitchin-tips-for-writing-irresistible-headlines/">write your headline</a>.</p> <p>It's fairly obvious why this should be done last. Many forward-thinking publishers will optimise the headline after the article has gone live, looking for the best clickthrough rate in various channels. While this may be beyond your team in terms of time and tech, it's a good idea to run a few possible headlines past a colleague.</p> <p>You need to get the balance right between piquing the reader's interest and not promising more than you can deliver. A simple tip is to write for Google (and the user) not for Facebook – i.e. what would the reader want to see in the search engine results when looking for content like yours?</p> <p>This article <a href="http://buzzsumo.com/blog/write-engaging-b2b-headlines-analysis-10-million-articles-shared-linkedin/">from Buzzsumo</a> analysing the most shared articles on LinkedIn will also come in handy when writing your headlines.</p> <h3><em>Then hit publish and log off</em></h3> <p>That's it for my simple guide to writing blog posts, particularly in B2B sectors. It might seem simple, but never assume your reader knows what they're doing (after all, the author barely does).</p> <p><em>To brush up your own writing skills, book a place on Econsultancy’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/online-copywriting/">online copywriting training course</a>.</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69243 2017-07-13T12:00:48+01:00 2017-07-13T12:00:48+01:00 Is it time to put the kibosh on the VR hype? Patricio Robles <p>"Pretty soon we're going to live in a world where everyone has the power to share and experience whole scenes as if you're just there, right there in person," he told the audience. "Imagine being able to sit in front of a campfire and hang out with friends anytime you want. Or being able to watch a movie in a private theater with your friends anytime you want. Imagine holding a group meeting or event anywhere in the world that you want.  All these things are going to be possible. And that's why Facebook is investing so much early on in virtual reality. So we can hope to deliver these types of social experiences."</p> <p>But a year and a half later, there's little indication that Zuckerberg's VR vision is progressing towards reality.</p> <h3>Trying to spur adoption</h3> <p>The latest demonstration of that: in an apparent effort to drum up consumer interest in its wares, Oculus, the VR company Facebook acquired for $3bn in 2014, <a href="https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608257/another-price-slash-suggests-the-oculus-rift-is-dead-in-the-water/">is temporarily cutting the price</a> of its Rift headset and Touch controllers to $399 from $598.</p> <p>Previously, the cost of the bundle was $798 and some observers are suggesting that at $399, Oculus is likely losing money on each sale.</p> <p>Oculus, which doesn't release sales figures, insists that the price cut is not a result of poor sales. According to Oculus content chief Jason Rubin, the company is more aggressively pushing its hardware because there's now a critical mass of content. "Now is the time to be pushing consumers into the product because they'll find exciting things to do," he told the Wall Street Journal.</p> <p>But despite the fact that there's more VR content than there was a year ago, the Wall Street Journal's Sarah E. Needleman pointed out that "virtual reality still doesn't have a breakout hit game or app, though."</p> <p>With analysts estimating sales of the Oculus Rift, HTCs Vive and PlayStation VR headsets at under 3m units <em>combined</em>, it's clear that VR isn't anywhere near a mainstream breakthrough and according to Reuters' David Ingram, "the industry [is trying] to figure out why the technology for immersive games and stories has not taken off among consumers."</p> <p>There is no shortage of potential reasons, including the possibility that consumers aren't as taken with the idea of sitting around a virtual campfire as Zuckerberg.</p> <p>Whatever the reason or reasons, VR's disappointing consumer adoption certainly isn't the result of lack of investment. Billions of dollars have been poured into the VR market in recent years by folks like Zuckerberg, who declared that VR would "become a part of daily life for billions of people" when Facebook purchased Oculus three years ago.</p> <h2>Better next big things</h2> <p>Right now, the Oculus purchase looks like one of Facebook's least successful acquisitions yet, but while Facebook has the ability to make such bets and absorb the losses if they fail, the VR story is a good reminder that the next big thing doesn't always arrive on time, and that the next big thing might not even be the next big thing.</p> <p>That doesn't mean there aren't markets in which it makes sense for brands to experiment with VR, or that VR won't eventually become important, but in mid-2017 the time has come to acknowledge that the VR hype was very premature and brands have better nascent technologies to pay attention to and invest in.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69165 2017-06-15T15:30:00+01:00 2017-06-15T15:30:00+01:00 Brand as publisher: Is Anheuser-Busch InBev's investment in beer magazines savvy or risky? Patricio Robles <p>For example, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, runs a venture arm called ZX Ventures that has quietly funded a number of beer websites, including RateBeer and Pitchfork's October. The latter is owned by Conde Nast.</p> <p>ZX Ventures' investment in RateBeer was apparently made in October of last year, but only became widely publicized last week <a href="http://goodbeerhunting.com/sightlines/2017/6/2/ratebeer-zx-ventures-acquisition-minority-stake-anheuser-busch-inbev">by Good Beer Hunting</a>, an unaffiliated craft beer website, after some LinkedIn sleuthing.</p> <p>RateBeer bills itself as the "most in-depth, accurate, and one of the most-visited source for beer information." With a focus on craft brewing, it offers its users the ability to rate and review beer as well as businesses that serve beer, such as bars and breweries. It also operates community forums and publishes news stories.</p> <p>The revelation that the world's largest brewer now owns a piece of one of the web's most popular craft brewing sites sparked a lot of controversy. Joseph Tucker, RateBeer's executive director, was forced to make <a href="https://www.ratebeer.com/forums/ratebeer-investment-announcement_296260.htm">an announcement</a> about the investment and his rationale for taking it. He attempted to reassure RateBeer's users that "ZX Ventures has the utmost respect for the integrity of the data and the unbiased service we offer to the entire community and industry."</p> <p>But perhaps not surprisingly, this hasn't satisfied many in the RateBeer community. A number of craft brewers whose beers are listed on RateBeer <a href="https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/06/craft-breweries-want-their-beers-off-ratebeer-afte.html">have even gone so far as to request that their listings be removed</a>. One craft brewer, Sam Calagione, who runs Dogfish Head, <a href="https://www.dogfish.com/blog/message-sam-current-ratebeer-changes">even suggested</a> that the investment has caused a violation of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics.</p> <p>"It just doesn’t seem right for a brewer of any kind to be in a position to potentially manipulate what consumers are hearing and saying about beers, how they are rated and which ones are receiving extra publicity on what might appear to be a legitimate, 100 percent user-generated platform," he stated. "It is our opinion that this initiative and others are ethically dubious and that the lack of transparency is troubling."</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6800/october.png" alt="october" width="615" height="316"></p> <p><em>The October website</em></p> <h3>Savvy or risky?</h3> <p>While Anheuser-Busch InBev's interest in RateBeer is easy to understand, the reaction to it demonstrates that the wisdom of such investments is subject to debate and here, it would appear that the brewing giant's investment might prove to have been more risky than it was savvy.</p> <p>For brands considering similar investments and hoping to avoid similar situations, it's worth asking the following questions before investing:</p> <p><strong>Could the investment reasonably create a perceived conflict of interest?</strong></p> <p>If the answer is yes, brands should tread very, very carefully. While not necessarily a deal breaker – it's hard for brands to invest in a content producer without there being some concern over the potential conflict of interest – some perceived conflicts are likely to be more problematic than others and this should be taken into account.</p> <p><strong>Will the investment create concerns about competition?</strong></p> <p>The most problematic perceived conflict of interest relates to competitive concerns because in today's environment, many consumers are upset by few things more than the specter of a huge corporation using its might to unfairly crush smaller competitors.</p> <p>In the beer industry, giants like Anheuser-Busch InBev are trying to grapple with the rise of craft brewers, which has in large part been fueled by consumer demand for high-quality beers that aren't produced by mega brewers. In response to the growing popularity of craft beer, Anheuser-Busch InBev has purchased a number of craft brewers. It has also <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/anheuser-busch-inbev-shuts-out-craft-beer-brewers-by-hoarding-hops-2017-05-11">been accused of hoarding hops</a>, causing some to suggest that it is acting in an anti-competitive fashion to shut out smaller players.</p> <p>Here, the competitive concerns that would be raised by the company's investment in a site catering to the craft brewing community were not hard to predict.</p> <p><strong>Will the investment be disclosed publicly?</strong> </p> <p>In most circumstances, there's a strong argument to be made that brand investments in content producers should be transparent. There are a number of reasons for this. Chief among them is the fact that transparency gives the websites in question the opportunity to explain the investment and lay out in detail how it will affect them. As part of this, sites can detail how editorial independence will be protected and what data could be shared with the investor.</p> <p>In the case of RateBeer, the fact that ZX Ventures's investment wasn't disclosed for eight months and was disclosed only after it was discovered by another beer site make it appear that the investment was kept hidden intentionally, which only exacerbates the concerns above.</p> <p><em><strong>More on brands as publishers:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68974-four-examples-of-brands-using-educational-content-marketing/">Four examples of brands using educational content marketing</a></li> <li> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67426-why-the-brands-as-publishers-trend-is-utter-nonsense/%20">Why the brands as publishers trend is utter nonsense</a> (a controversial view)</li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69174 2017-06-15T09:44:00+01:00 2017-06-15T09:44:00+01:00 Four brands pushing the boundaries of content strategy Richard Jones <p>As a result, brands are exploring how best to expose their content in different ways to suit particular channels and new applications. Here I take a look at four of the best examples.</p> <h3>The Economist</h3> <p>It’s very difficult today to know which new technology will gain traction and where to focus your attention and effort. The Economist has taken an innovative approach to this dilemma by reengineering its core systems to support microservices.  </p> <p>As a result the media organisation is able to present its content to a vast array of external systems. From the same core content, they can now serve very different outputs, tailoring that content to suit a wide range of platforms – from Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles, to Apple News and Snapchat. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6784/ECONOMIST.jpg" alt="economist microservice integration" width="800" height="450"></p> <p>This approach, lead by CTO Mark Brincat, means that the organisation can react quickly to new opportunities and, importantly, can <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68313-marketing-attribution-how-many-are-actually-doing-it/">measure the effectiveness of each new channel</a> before deciding if it’s of value to the organisation.</p> <p>The Economist is of course a subscription-based model so it’s interesting to see how they’re engaging with channels that might not be the immediately obvious choices. The media organisation has reported significant success in targeting news to Snapchat and has also created a bite-sized news service known as ‘Espresso’ to target audiences with an appetite for The Economist coverage, but little time on their hands.</p> <h3>William Hill Labs</h3> <p>The purpose of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67093-lessons-from-william-hill-adapting-to-modern-customers-in-a-traditional-industry/">WHLabs Accelerator</a> is to identify and develop technology innovations for the gambling and gaming industry that deliver new and exciting customer experiences. WHLabs is a highly innovative digital division that exposes system APIs to third parties so that they can develop their own applications using William Hill data. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6785/whill_labs.jpg" alt="william hill labs" width="615" height="384"></p> <p>The UK bookmaker recently ran an incubator competition encouraging development teams to submit innovative application ideas that made use of detailed betting and pricing data. </p> <p>Winner <a href="https://developer.williamhill.com/betgame-winner-william-hill%E2%80%99s-industry-first-accelerator-programme">BetGame</a> now has WHLabs’ support in bringing its new betting product to market, while William Hill – always on the lookout for the latest innovations – has enjoyed the advantage of working with some of the latest innovations and most pioneering start-ups</p> <p>By choosing to open up its services to developer partners, William Hill has paved the way for innovative applications and experiments. </p> <h3>Strava</h3> <p>Strava is used to collect exercise data – predominantly from users’ cycling and running activity. Via the application programming interface (API) you can download, analyse, and manipulate your data in far more depth than is possible using the online tools Strava provides.   </p> <p>This has encouraged integration with fitness trackers and health kit applications, along with highly innovative use cases such as 3D video recreations of your cycling experiences with the relive.cc application.</p> <p>By opening-up this data, Strava is enabling third parties to add value to their services in ways that go beyond the capabilities and competencies of Strava’s core business.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6786/strava.jpg" alt="strava api" width="615" height="503"></p> <p>The above is a screenshot from a very basic app that uses data from the Strava API. The Predict My Ride app (disclosure: built by my digital agency and consultancy Inviqa<a href="https://inviqa.com/blog/predict-my-ride-building-scala-cycling-app-scratch"> as part of a training exercise</a>) uses an individual’s data from Strava to show how long it would take them to complete the Tour de France (or any other route of their choosing). </p> <p>This is a very simple example but it shows the ease with which brands can effortlessly extend their value to users through third-party channels and applications.</p> <h3>Royal Mail</h3> <p>The Royal Mail collects a great deal of data in its day-to-day operation. One such dataset is its redirections database which is used by customers to automatically re-route their post when moving house. </p> <p>Recently the Royal Mail opened up this data for an online tool that allows users to <a href="http://www.royalmail.com/redirection-moving-map">visualise migration across the country</a> – a unique use of the dataset that gave an interesting perspective on what redirections really mean, along with a nice viral tool that reminded people of this all-important Royal Mail service.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6787/royal_mail.png" alt="royal mail map" width="615" height="288"></p> <p><em>This interactive redirection-moving-map uses Royal Mail content</em></p> <h3>What to consider when opening your content</h3> <p>As businesses race to reach new audiences on new devices in a cost-effective way that carries minimal risk, it’s fascinating to see how companies are innovating with APIs to expose their content to new content-consumers – from health trackers to smart fridges.</p> <p>The end goal, of course, is to monetise content across these channels, which is particularly tricky with the likes of news aggregation platforms. This has lead to some high-profile experiments, <a href="https://digiday.com/media/guardian-pulls-facebooks-instant-articles-apple-news/">as well as exits</a>, from platforms such as Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News. </p> <p>Most of these exits, however, are simply a sign of brands refocusing their efforts towards other channels where media organisations can better serve their strategic goals. But how that success is measured will of course differ per channel. The Economist’s focus for Snapchat, for example, might be more about attracting a new generation of readers than generating ad views.</p> <p>What’s clear is that this is a fast-evolving marketplace where the simplicity of the mobile-tablet-desktop model no longer applies. Content providers need to be ready to react and experiment with new channels and consumers. </p> <p>But equally they need to be ready to measure and disengage from those channels that are not helping them achieve their business goals.</p> <p><em><strong>Econsultancy subscribers can download the following reports:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/implementing-content-strategy-digital-best-practice/">Implementing content strategy: Digital best practice</a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:Report/4147 2017-05-02T12:45:00+01:00 2017-05-02T12:45:00+01:00 Social Media Best Practice Guide <p>According to research by GlobalWebindex, <strong>93% of internet users have at least one social media account</strong>. With social media touching so many areas of an organisation, the process of getting social media right has never been more important.</p> <p>This <strong>Social Media Best Practice Guide</strong> contains actionable, real-world insight with detailed explanations to help you start and improve your performance on social media platforms.</p> <p>In order to enable you to quickly access the information you need to start improving your marketing efforts, the guide is available as two individual reports:</p> <h3><strong>1. <a title="Social Media Strategy Best Practice Guide" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-strategy-best-practice-guide/">Social Media Strategy Best Practice Guide</a></strong></h3> <p>The aim of this research is to identify <strong>best practice approaches, techniques, measurement considerations, challenges and opportunities for creating your social media strategy.</strong></p> <p>As social media platforms continue to evolve at a rapid rate we also cover some of the exciting developments taking place in social media.</p> <h3><strong>2. <a title="Social Media Platforms Overview" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-platforms-overview/">Social Media Platforms Overview</a></strong></h3> <p><strong>We've updated our social media platforms overview guide in 2017</strong> to account for the rapid developments occurring in this space. This report's purpose is to provide <strong>a snapshot of the major social media platforms and the most pressing considerations for marketers looking to generate the most value from social media</strong>.</p> <p>It provides a summary of the main features of these platforms, and outlines some of the options available to marketers when developing a paid, owned and earned strategic approach to social media marketing and communications.</p> <p>From Snapchat Lenses and Geofilters and Facebook's latest innovations to Live Video, Augmented Reality and Chatbots, our 2017 edition will ensure that you're up to date with the latest platform trends.</p> <p>Throughout both reports, we bring you <strong>examples of how companies are using social media in different ways, as well as insights from companies interviewed</strong> specifically for these guides.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_IhT9S2YEyY?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <h2>Methodology</h2> <p>The methodology involved two main phases:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Phase 1:</strong> Desk research to identify relevant issues, examples and models.</li> <li> <strong>Phase 2:</strong> A series of in-depth interviews (20 interviews in total) with a range of senior digital and non-digital marketers, communications leads and social media strategists. Interviewees for the research covered sectors as diverse as aerospace, retail, hospitality, public sector (including government), SaaS, FMCG, non-profit, agency, financial services and media.</li> </ul> <h2>Lead author</h2> <p>The lead author for our social media best practice guides is <strong>Michelle Goodall</strong>, an experienced consultant. She has more than 17 years’ B2C and B2B experience client and agency-side, providing digital transformation and social media strategy advice and support.</p> <p>She has worked with a wide range of clients, including London2012, BBC, Direct Line Group, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Barclays Bank, Coca Cola, Unilever, US Embassy, and many others.</p> <p>Michelle is a trainer and consultant for Econsultancy and can generally be found curating things that smart people write / make / do and getting to grips with Peach and other peripheral / transformative / game-changing technologies for her clients.</p> <h2>Contributors</h2> <p>The author and Econsultancy wish to extend sincere thanks to the following respected professionals who have contributed to the report:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Richard Bagnall</strong> – CEO, PRIME Research UK &amp; SVP PRIME Research Europe</li> <li> <strong>Vikki Chowney</strong> – Director of Content &amp; Publishing Strategies, H+K Strategies</li> <li> <strong>Sarah Coggins</strong> – VP, PR and Social Media, Virgin Atlantic</li> <li> <strong>Raluca Efford</strong> – Head of Digital and Social Media Marketing, Direct Line Group</li> <li> <strong>Marisol Grandon</strong> – Head of Creative Content, The Department for International Development (DFID)</li> <li> <strong>Katie McDermott</strong> – Marketing Director, Gourmet Burger Kitchen</li> <li> <strong>Will McInnes</strong> – Chief Marketing Officer, Brandwatch</li> <li> <strong>Kerry Taylor</strong> – Senior Vice President Director of Television, MTV Networks</li> <li> <strong>Guy Stephens</strong> – Social Customer Care Consultant, IBM</li> <li> <strong>Stephen Waddington</strong> – Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum</li> <li> <strong>Scott Wilkinson</strong> – Head of Brand, Acquisitions and Digital, Virgin Media Business</li> <li> <strong>Tom Barker</strong> – Head of Digital, National Trust</li> <li> <strong>Rachel Miller</strong> – CEO, IC Crowd</li> </ul>