February 5, 2018 - No Comments!

Insights From Inside: Facebook Changed Something Again…

by Clem Robin, Digital Marketing Manager

The publishing industry had a rather abrupt start to 2018 when Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook was changing its focus from helping people find relevant content, to helping people have more meaningful social interactions.

I.e. More content from friends, family and groups, and less content from businesses and publishers.

In many ways, this didn’t come as a surprise. We’ve seen them testing similar things in the market over the last 3-6 months, including a dual newsfeed in a handful of small countries.

Personally, I like the idea. I want to see more of the things that matter to me - friends, family and locally relevant content. Content that improves my life, rather than distractions.

In regard to its impact on The Urban List, it certainly prompted a few urgent conversations. How was it actually going to impact? Was it going to hit as hard as the media was drumming up?

For some businesses, probably, but as a content publisher who has always strived to create meaningful interactions through truly engaging, locally relevant content, we remained positive.

This is what Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed said, “The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.” And we’re firmly in the second camp!

We’re now a month on from the announcement, and we just had our second biggest month of all time for website users, and traffic from Facebook was our best in three months.

That’s not to say we haven’t been affected. We’ve seen engagement rates up and down since Sept ‘17, but we’re still tracking at a level within the industry we’re really happy with.

You can see from the graph below that The Urban List Melbourne & Sydney have outperformed our peers for average engagements per post since July ‘17, and both pages kicked significantly in Jan ‘18.

We’ve maintained this level of engagement as social content has always been one of our strengths - it’s one of the areas that sets us apart from our peers. In fact, this is a key reason why our Facebook following is more than twice as large as our closest peer - testament to a very different approach to social content creation.

Of course it would be naive to rely too heavily on any third party. To mitigate that risk, we’ve done a lot of work to diversify our channels over the last 18 months and have had some solid results, including 60% YoY growth in search traffic and 37% growth in email traffic.

 

So what does the future hold?

The one thing we can be certain of, is that change will continue to happen across all marketing channels. And this is exciting.

One of the seven business pillars we have at The Urban List, is ‘Change is an Adventure’. We’re ready and willing to embrace change and the new opportunities that will come about.

Oh, and we’re of course happy to see Facebook’s most recent announcement that local news content is going to be prioritised in the newsfeed.

“Starting today, we're going to show more stories from news sources in your local town or city. If you follow a local publisher or if someone shares a local story, it may show up higher in News Feed,” said Mark Zuckerberg, noting that large local publishers will benefit, as well as publishers that focus on niche topics.

As with all things Facebook, it's hard to know when it will take effect in Australia and New Zealand, but we're structured perfectly to benefit from this update. Bring it on!

November 29, 2017 - No Comments!

Insights From Inside: Peeling Back The Polish

by Susannah George, CEO & Founder

I am a total perfectionist and for the last two years, the building momentum around real time media has made me want to cover my eyes like the see-no-evil emoji. (🙈)

It’s impossible to ignore the deluge of instant content that’s blowing up across Snapchat, Facebook and the now-leader, Instagram. (ICYMI, Insta Stories surpassed Snapchat’s daily users early this year, on their first birthday.) And quite frankly, peeling back the polish that I’ve prided our brand on has made me feel unbelievably exposed.

I’m guessing I’m not alone in that. The idea of reducing the control around our brands, and our clients, feels like a minefield. And yet, many of us are conscious that it’s also one of the greatest opportunities we have. That we need to learn to manage the risk to reap the reward.

As to how the O.G. Snapchat was about to amass 170 million daily users and disrupt the Facebook empire sufficiently to follow suit? I have my theories… Certainly, a growing trend toward capturing moments to prove they transpired. (Enter, #picsoritdidnthappen) Though perhaps more poignantly, it all boils down to the age old need for trust – a growing preference to share in a version of the world that’s more authentic, more true; a backlash, led by millennials, in the face of over-filtered celebrity snaps, hyper-saturated sunsets, and seriously misleading food porn.

When butts are so high they warp doorframes...

Complexions are all shades of flawless…

And breakfast that looks like it was served in the post-Oz land of technicolour dreams.

Quantity Over Quality

Where once millennials curated their social feeds more religiously than brands, today they’re opting for quantity over quality. They create hundreds of millions of content pieces each day and are shifting their consumption behaviour to dedicate the majority of their time perusing the real-time carousel; thumbs tapping the right-now in lieu of scrolling through the feed of things shared more than 2 hours ago.

And unlike mid-30-somethings like me, they could care less about the longevity of their content. It’s not a treasured archive of experience, but a stickered snapshot in time – a RN (right now) look at #lyfe in all its unfiltered glory.

Timeliness = Relevance

Being both a publisher, and a perfectionist, the idea of peeling back the polish and the production value is quite daunting – producing content that isn’t lauded for its cinemagraphic brilliance, but its timeliness.

And inherent in that timeliness lies a new measure of quality – one that shows, first hand, that we as publishers and as brands, have relevance in culture. And that relevance presents an invitation to their lives.

This perfectionist is a convert.

Real time content represents one of the most under utilised opportunities, both for media and for brands. And while some waste time rendering style guides on to the new genre, hundreds of millions of people are consuming the content of those who were prepared to take the leap and fly.

The Proof

Each week, we see our Insta Stories racking up 450,000+ views – half a million eyeballs actively engaging with content that could just as easily, and relevantly be produced in collaboration with partner brands.

Half of our team watched the YES announcement crowded around Facebook Live (despite the oversized TVs dwarfing our board rooms) – testament to the relevance of this channel over broadcast. Ed note: Facebook Live is a space we’re just about to navigate through the talents of our new Branded Content Director, and former MTV Editor, Leni Andronicos.

And while the commercial opportunities of Snapchat are still being tested and trialed, this is a platform that our audience adores and as such, in 2018 we shall be showing it some love and getting on board.

We’ve always been committed to storytelling, where, when and how our audience wants it. And today, it seems they’re asking us to cut the brand conservatism and get real.

Top Tips From Our Editors
  1. Don't fight the medium.
    Higher production value does not equal increased impact. Produce content that pairs with the strength of the channel, and make use of it's native features (like polls, stickers and Facebook Live's functionality that allows you to create/edit some of the content in advance).
  2. Just because it's live doesn't mean that you can forget the narrative.
    This is still content and it should tell a story. Plan what you want your audience to take away from the experience, and look for elements that bring this to life.
  3. Authenticity is the aim of the game.
    Brand integration must be carefully considered, and used sparingly within the first 5 seconds unless you're in the fortunate position of being a socio-cultureal phenom. Arnotts & Peters Iced Vovo ice-cream collab, and unicorn Gaytimes, we're looking at you.

November 6, 2017 - No Comments!

The Urban List Announces Major New Investments in Client Outcomes

Digital lifestyle publisher The Urban List has unveiled a major suite of investments to many of the country’s biggest brands and agencies in an event held in Sydney on Wednesday night.

Founder and CEO Susannah George shared The Urban List’s journey from humble home-office beginnings in 2011, to its current position as the largest city guide in Australia and New Zealand, before unveiling a suite of significant new investments designed to amplify client outcomes.

George, General Manager, Damien Rossi and Head of Sales and Partnerships, Tamara Pannett shared key learnings from the past six years, and revealed how they will be harnessing emerging opportunities to revitalise The Urban List experience for both readers and partners into 2018 and beyond.

Rossi discussed The Urban List audience’s growing appetite for video content, revealing that the publisher’s video engagement is growing month on month. “In the last three months alone, Urban List videos have generated more than 7.3 million organic views. With increased investment and a robust video content strategy in place, this is projected to grow to between 6 and 7 million views a month within the next 6 months,” he said.

George also sees experiential events as a key growth area. With events content the second most popular category on site, clocking up half a million page views each month, “We know that our audience is dying to engage in real life,” she said.

At the same time, with a surge in visitation to the platform from people outside of the local market, “it’s clear The Urban List has become the ‘go to’ for great local experiences, whether you’re a resident or an out-of-towner.”

Time on site for travel content has increased from just over 3 minutes, to just over 7 minutes. According to George, it’s a clear indicator people know and trust The Urban List brand, and are leveraging the site as a travel research tool.

Australia’s largest ever millennial travel survey, conducted by The Urban List, also revealed that 90% of readers want The Urban List to enter new cities.

Pannett also announced the recent launch of new adhesive display units, a programmatic video offering delivered in partnership with Telaria, and the impending introduction of programmatic display capability.

“The Urban List empowers more decisions, more action, more advocacy than our peers. And we are privileged to share this connection with some of the world’s top businesses and brands,” said George.

“We have identified an opportunity to greatly enhance client and partner outcomes by investing in five key areas: video, events and activations, a new travel vertical, programmatic display and video, and entry into new cities.”

Video

“By the end of this year, almost 75% of all internet traffic will be directed toward video,” said Rossi. “While much of it will go unnoticed, we are happy to say that when it comes to the impact of our video content, engagement is growing month on month.”

“We’ve been moving towards a content strategy that is truly channel agnostic, while ensuring all new content pieces deliver exceptional engagement. It’s part of our mantra to create stories to live by, not just scroll by.”

Experiential events

2018 will see The Urban List invest heavily in events and activations, with 21 consumer events committed to.

“Over the past 12 months, we have been progressively testing and learning in this space: testing our audience appetite for not only TUL partnered, but TUL branded events, as well as finetuning our own capabilities and capacity to ensure that whatever we announce, we can deliver on exceptionally well,” said George.

She revealed that the team already know what the events are, and are currently speaking to brands interested in entering the activation space.

The Urban List travel vertical

As well as an increase in readership from outside the local markets, recent survey findings have led The Urban List to announce plans for a new travel vertical. In November 2016, The Urban List conducted the country’s largest survey of more than 14, 000 millennial travellers.

While more than 60% were planning a trip within the next 6 months, only a third had

chosen their destination, pointing to dissatisfaction with current “uncool”, “not credible” or “out of date” research tools. Meanwhile, 90% expressed a desire for The Urban List to create more travel content, with 94% saying they would use the site for pre-trip research.

“Despite having access to more travel content than ever, millennials aren’t finding the

resources they trust to aid destination decisions. At the same time, we’ve witnessed our travel-specific content triple in views year on year. With travel now in our four topperforming content categories, we see a huge opportunity to influence near-term travel decisions,” said George.

Lunching soon, “The Urban List’s new travel vertical is the perfect opportunity for brands to capture our audience when they’re in that all-important wanderlusting stage of trip planning.”

Programmatic video & display

“Content is our bread and butter, but we know our clients are always on the lookout for robust display options,” said Pannett.

The Urban List has recently invested in a revitalised display offering that includes the

addition of new adhesive display units and programmatic video, with programmatic display coming soon. “Our new display products have been created based off client feedback, so we know demand for these assets will be high,” Pannett said.

Further expansion in Australia and New Zealand

With 9/10 readers wanting to see The Urban List’s entry into new cities, expansion has become a priority. “As consumers look for trusted travel resources, we want to make sure The Urban List is available in as many cities as possible to be that trusted source,” said George.

Rossi added, “We’re looking to travel survey data and audience insights, as well as engaging in discussions with clients, to select which markets to launch into next.”

Originally shared on B&T

October 21, 2017 - No Comments!

Five Things I’ve Learned For Our Fifth Birthday: The Urban List Founder

It has been five years since Founder and Director, Susannah George, launched The Urban List; a digital lifestyle guide that has gone on to become Australia and New Zealand’s top digital media platform in the local lifestyle sector. And on its fifth birthday, George shares her five digital lessons for success.

Since establishing itself as an online source of the best recommendations in Brisbane in 2011, The Urban List has not only expanded its lifestyle platform to cover Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Auckland, but just in time to celebrate its fifth birthday, it is also able to boast an impressive 2.2 million unique visitors every month.

Speaking of this milestone birthday, George says there are many integral learnings she and her team are grateful for, which have positively contributed to their success.

Her five burning insights learnt along the way are:

You can’t fake it or you won’t make it

Having a full time content team on the ground in each city has been key to our success. Knowing the idiosyncrasies of a city only comes from living there and sharing the same passions of the people you are talking to very day.

Sometimes you will need to break the rules

We threw out the social media and content creation rule book pretty early on. Instead, we experiment and innovate constantly and rely on our reader data and sentiment to tell us what works and what doesn’t.

Don’t be a sheep and don’t be too full of yourself

We are irreverent, conversational and accessible whilst still being aspirational. People thought we were crazy moving into Melbourne and Sydney where competition is fierce, but we believed both markets would embrace our unique style and our growth suggests they did.

Know your audience but allow them to surprise you

We knew we couldn’t be all things to all people. Our decision to speak to millennial women with our content was deliberate. We know their passions and how much they love anything salted caramel, we know how to surprise and delight but we make sure we evolve and change as they do.

What you set is what you get

We’ve never been afraid of setting ourselves a high target. Our team want something to climb towards and be proud to arrive there.

While The Urban List may have only just blown out the candles on their fifth birthday cake, George says they are not afraid of continuing to set high targets.

“We’ve got a dedicated in-house content, design, marketing and business team. Together we strive to achieve the best possible outcome for our clients and believe in working collaboratively in order to do so.  It’s lucky we all love what we do!”