Should I Publish About the Kardashians? ArabNet Beirut 2016 Talk

Alexis Baghdadi, Mar 03 2016

Does posting about the Kardashians drive more traffic? Does it build loyalty? Should you do it?

If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then you definitely need to read on.

Eddy Touma, co-founder and CEO of Klangoo, broke it down to the “non-marketers” and"non-content" attendees at ArabNet Beirut 2016.

Challenges for MENA Media Companies

Content publishers in the Levant and GCC are still in the early stages of their transition to digital. The industry faces a challenging environment, said Touma.

a) On one hand, these companies are experiencing severe budget cuts. Notable examples include Qatar’s Al-Jazeera, which has begun cutting hundreds of jobs worldwide, and the financial difficulties that led Lebanese news companies like Al-Akhbar to terminate its English-language online channel, or Future TV to take its 24-hour news channel off the air.

b) Analytics are being misinterpreted. “Media companies are still confusing returning visitors with loyal ones,” said Touma. Klangoo ran a 6-month monitoring of top Lebanese news websites’ traffic and found that over 79% of visitors read less than 3 articles during that period, versus 5% who read between 10 and 99 articles, and only 1% who read more than 99 articles in the same period.

Interestingly, loyal visitors only made up 6% of total visitors but accounted for over 54% of total page views, which clearly outlines a huge missed opportunity.

c) Lack of strategic long-term vision. This is something common to the majority of Levant and GCC news websites. Touma said the reasons for this included political funding (whether local, as in the case of the Lebanese political scene, or regional, as in the case of the Saudi-Iranian standoff and its repercussions on many countries in the region).

Second, these websites are still underdeveloped in the sense that the transition to digital and mobile is slow, and online newsrooms are almost unheard of. Finally, low loyalty translates into low CPC.

The Recipe for Premium Publishing

Measuring the success of a digital content strategy is not accessible to everyone. Alexa scores and page view counts are the lowest rung of the KPI ladder where “rookies” operate. The more advanced the measurement tools are (starting with shares, referrals, SEO and organic reach, all the way to time spent on sites, mobile penetration, and loyalty, the more “premium” an online publisher is considered.

Touma listed a few of the assets that digital publishers need to consider or include on their sites to optimize their content:

-Personalization

-Video

-Mobile monetization

-Opting in/out

-AMP compatibility

-Wearables

-Predictive analytics

-Market consolidation

So, What Should I Do about the Kardashians?

Are you still on about the Kardashians?!

The good news is that if you’re still reading and you haven’t figured it out yet, you can answer this question yourself.

“It’s obvious: know thyself,” said Touma. This involves the process that every new startup knows: set goals, determine target audiences, set a strategy and KPIs, use monitoring tools, and assess.

It sounds obvious but for those publishers that have been around since print and are used to old operating models, making the transition to digital and abandoning “legacies” is challenging.

“It really depends on where you want to go and whom you want to reach,” said Touma. He cited examples of top Lebanese news brands’ websites who witnessed over 80% bounce and exit rates when they published “tabloid” content related to such things as what Touma calls the “Lebanese Kardashians”. Such high rates definitely indicate this is not a winning formula for customer loyalty.

On the other hand, high bounce rates would not matter to “tabloid” websites who publish only such content but consistently so and on a regular basis.

The bottom line is, you should know how to measure content, whether it is about the Kardashians or not, to improve your site’s value.

So if I’m a hard news website I shouldn’t post about the Kardashians?

It’s up to you to decide. The Kardashians aren’t a story by themselves, it’s what you’re saying about them that determines the type of content you are publishing. The Wall Street Journal for example published a story about the Kardashians, but from a business perspective, explaining how real estate prices go up in areas where a Kardashian (or more) lives. How did this piece of content perform, in your opinion?

How do you think this article on the ArabNet website will perform?

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