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5 corner-stones of successful content and monetisation success

March 11, 2007

One of my favourite talks from the Online Publishers Association London 2007 Forum last week (8th March) was from Peter Horan, CEO of IAC (aka Ask.com) on the subject of what he calls Intent Driven Media. He talked about the impact of search on media, explained how the first five seconds of a user’s visit are crucial, suggested five corner-stones of successful content and finished on some great tips on monitisation.

Here are the notes from Peter’s presentation on Intent Driven Media.

How content was from Gutenberg to 2001

  • One to many publishing.
  • Reader makes a choice based on brand.
  • Publisher controls timing, coverage, audience access to information and vendor access to audience.

Then Search happens

  • Impatient readers expect to be in control
  • Every page is now a front door
    • You should be getting at least 50% of your traffic from search engines.

  • The first five seconds are crucial!
    • A reader comes in from a search engine into an article page.
    • They will decide whether this page is for them within five seconds, before pressing the back button.
  • The first sentence sells your article and keeps them on the page.
  • Magazine and newspaper writers assume people want to read their article – online you have to assume they don’t – hence no puns, plays on words or in-jokes.
  • Users will scroll down to your content, so they probably won’t even see your logo – convey your brand with colours etc.
  • You need to sell them the next click, so put related articles near the middle or top of the article. About.com got a 15% CTR when they did this.

Five corner-stones of successful content

  1. Relevance – Readers are looking for complete solutions.
  2. Resonance – Expertise is relative – they are looking for the like-minded, pro or otherwise.
  3. Specificity – The specific always drives off the general.
  4. Speed – Readers need the content on demand.
  5. Comprehensive – Readers want the full story, so they value input from peers.

So a mix of content is required, from broad to narrow; from small audiences (long-tail) to large audiences (mass) – delivered from a range of sources, from editorial content , blogs, UGC, Forums and ratings, reviews and comments . For example narrow content might be a search for gardeners in my area, whereas broad content might be an article about gardening trends.

Tips for monetisation success

  • Metrics drive innovation.
    • You can pretty much test everything on the web.
    • The ability to learn and to iterate is your competitive advantage.
  • Web development and design is a process, not an event.
    • The first day after a redesign is the worst.
    • The day you stop tweaking a website is the day it dies.
  • Make informed decisions, understand costs and benefits.

Focus on three simple things:

  1. The cost of audience acquisition
    • Don’t make a net loss in driving traffic.
    • Consider PPC as a cost-of-sale rather than marketing.
    • Your online audience should be a superset, rather than a subset, of your print audience!
  2. The cost of content creation.
  3. Your rate of monetisation – ie yields.
    • And it’s not just about ads!

“This is the age of atomised information bound by reader interest.” (as visualised by Digg Swarm).

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