How to use Content to get Advertising Revenue and Attention Traffic

by Mark Bailey

It was a signal, when the Huffington Post was sold for more than $300 million that news was never going to be the same ever again. At first glance, websites look like blogs on steroids and now they have become the fast and new emerging global news channels. List style posts dominate their home pages.

Some of them include:

  • 20 Things Only People With Cold Hands Understand
  • 25 Very Real Struggles Of Making New Friends As An Adult
  • 29 signs You’re Not a Cat Person

“List posts” work whether you like them or not.

One of these new generation websites driven by social network is called Buzzfeed and it is making the original players sit up and take a note. In 2006, it stated as an online laboratory called “Buzzfeed Labs” and since then it has evolved and transformed into a serious long form journalism website.

378 posts a day are now published by the website which is sourced by external contributors, syndicated content and staff. The original players like the New York Times are now worried, because of the growing popularity of this website, so in order to put some perspective, according to Quantcast for the last month here are the latest traffic numbers:

  • 162 million unique visitors
  • More than 106 million mobile visitors
  • 394 million page views
  • In the USA, ranked as the 11th largest site

Apart from its superficial and seemingly humble beginnings, the influence of a website driven by social media and data scientists cannot be overlooked.

The New York Times was established 150 years ago. That’s why don’t be surprised if it’s not nimble. It tries everything in its power to reinvent itself. However it decided to review this new landscape and closely examine the fast emerging publishing landscape, so that it can give an honest review of its competitors and itself. Apart from Buzzfeed, these include Politico, The Atlantic, First Look Media, Vox, The Guardian and Mashable.

In a digital world, content is the weapon of choice to get advertising revenue and attention traffic.

Content marketing lessons

They use social media for measuring and not for marketing and that was the one observation from the report that surprised me a lot.

Here are some thoughts on how companies should adapt in a digital age with content marketing and publishing.


Brands have to be experimenting all the time, just like Buzzfeed created a “Buzzfeed Lab” to find out why it went viral and what, in order to find what doesn’t work and what does. GK & Partners say that we have to be learning all the time about what content resonates, as all of us have become online publishers now

The content marketing strategy of Coca Cola is built on a 70/20/10 investment model. 70% is low risk content, 20% should feed off of what works and 10% is high risk ideas.

Repackage your content

The original content that was repackaged into Flipboard was discovered by The New York Times to be the best read collection in the entire history of the paper.

That’s why you should take your content and transform it into podcasts, presentations, images and videos. Each person has its own media consumption preferences and habits.

Use old content again

A significant traffic could be generated by resurrecting old content. This was tested with articles about sex trafficking and love videos. Sometimes it’s better to recycle than to look for something new.

Create content templates

In order to create new content quickly, Buzzfeed has used the template model, so that they won’ have to custom build from scratch. On the social web, it is important to publish content quickly because it doesn’t tolerate the old 24 hour news cycle.

Keep innovating your platform

Innovation is doesn’t begin and end with the content. First Look Media motivated and elevated its content creators by providing them with modern templates and tools.

The platforms should consider testing, optimization and analyzing frameworks. This builds a moat that is difficult to replicate around your brand.

Content marketing doesn’t only include “publishing”

Often, content creators and writers tend to put marketing in second place just after the art of writing. Your content needs to be hustled.

Whether you like it or not everyone is a marketer.

Socially savvy content creators

The savvy content marketers and publishers realize that the content creator (editors and reporters) has to be fully fluent and socially savvy in social media. Frequently, due to the fact that traditional publishers have large social networks, they chase down writers.

Look for social, not just the headline

In order to accelerate sharing, it is important to push your content into social networks. It isn’t all about the headline anymore.

Don’t overlook search engines

Search engines are still essential on an integrated web. At the New York Times, they discovered that doing some SEO increased traffic by 52 percent.

Social and search practice

Over the years, the competitors of The New York Times have applied the best practices for digital marketing. At the Huffington post, unless a story has the following attributes ready (Facebook update, Tweet, Search Headline and Photo), it cannot be published.

The importance of email

Content marketing isn’t the new and glamorous approach of social media marketing. In spite of having an email list of 6.5 million, The New York Times still used email marketing.

Social channels use

Due to its low cost of publishing, social media is the perfect tool to use in order to do some experimenting. You are not allowed to do that with print because of its high cost and you won’t get results back and receive data in real time.

Brand content creators are important

The Reuters Digital had tasked its web editors with locating influential online communities to amplify and seed their content. This is also known as influencer marketing.

Use the power of user generated content

User generated content is a very powerful marketing tactic and it is free. Just on YouTube alone some brand content creation was 99% of all brand conversations according to a research conducted by Octoly.

Email marketing platform

In a digital world in order to have efficient work practices, you should have a “proper” email marketing platform instead of using your email list.

According to a report, the New York Times had to pull it from registration data manually. This is a scary revelation.

A marketing platform for content marketing

The digital media is a combination of many splintered tactics and moving parts. Having a marketing platform will allow you to do content marketing “at scale.”

Fail quickly and learn

In order to learn, you have to fail fast on the qucikly moving web.

Team effort

Content marketing requires particular set of skills, such as marketing, user experience, products, technology and writing to name a few.

Measure success

A content marketing strategy has to highlight the measures that define what success looks like. Is it sales, conversions, brand awareness or traffic?

“Unlearn” the leaders

Usually, a lot of the things that used to work a decade ago are no longer applicable in modern times. A lot of CEOs and senior executives were born in an era of ties and suits being the dress code in every office, traditional media and fixed phones. With what worked then, they built huge companies. But that time is long gone. Kodak missed the digital camera boat, Apple has disrupted the music industry and Amazon has redefined retail to name a few.

The old business models have to step down and clear the path for the new and innovative ideas. The new habits of content marketing cannot be embraced until the old ones are unlearned.

Digital is the priority

The requirement is to ensure “digital first”, after the leaders have unlearned. Digital content is the most important part of content marketing now.

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