OLD Media Moves

How Forbes has changed its online content, and improved its metrics

January 10, 2012

Posted by Chris Roush

Lewis Dvorkin, the chief product officer at Forbes, writes about how the business magazine has changed its online content while also improving its traffic.

Dvorkin writes, “FORBES certainly played its part, working with the portals (then the fire hoses of the Internet) to drive traffic to the stories it transformed into photo galleries — 10-15 picture slide shows that could generate 10-15 potential page views. At one point, FORBES produced 160 such galleries each month, some with questionable brand value. Still, readers and the portals couldn’t seem to get enough of them (that was nice). Of course, journalistic purists and media watchers hated them (that was painful). What was very clear then and now is that engagement in a gallery is not the same as engagement in a story. That had implications for everyone, including marketers.

“So, FORBES began to change all that with a unique content strategy. In 2011, we scaled to 1,000 qualified content creators who produced nearly 100,000 text posts across our eight verticals. During that period, we published only 40-50 galleries per month for the portals. Our new ways drove increasingly strong social traffic throughout the year. By December 2011, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit and StumbleUpon were among our Top 10 traffic sources (none were on that list a year earlier). And just last week, three FORBES posts were among the Top 5 shared stories on LinkedIn. Along the way, the percentage of our traffic from portals fell by 50%. The results of all this: last month, Forbes.com traffic rose to a 27.8 million unique visitors (as measured by Omniture), up 80% in a year. And that came after two consecutive months of 25 million unique visitors or more.

“What was the impact of far fewer photos and 2,000 posts a week on the classic page view engagement? Well, the number fell a bit, but users were certainly reading a lot more text and spending far more time on our new article pages.”

Read more here.

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