What happens when certain content is working extremely well on one platform but not as well on another? You look into your audience, your delivery, and maybe most of all, the way it's consumed.
For Kiplinger this situation came up when an ad sales staff person asked if there was any way that they could provide an equally satisfying experience for viewing slide shows on mobile as they do on desktop and tablet. In short, people seem to like to push buttons on desktop and scroll on their phones and tablets. But it's hard to set that up as one URL and keep it as fully responsive.
The slide shows bring in the most traffic for Kiplinger but could generate more revenue if more people viewed them on mobile. (Click here to see their many slide shows. I like that to go to the next page, you have to click on the link that says "Show More Stories.")
"Can we do this?" the ad sales person asked. Sometimes that's all it takes.
Everyone consumes content in their own way—be it listening to podcasts while driving or sitting on the train, reading digital newsletters or print pieces, watching webinars, taking quizzes, etc. Nobody knows this more than the people at Kiplinger. Theirs is an older audience but by no means does that mean that everyone is old school.
"The problem was that we weren't getting enough views on our slide shows on mobile," said Greg Krehbiel, director of marketing. "So we created a bifurcated system. On desktop, people see one slide in a slideshow, then click next to advance. But on mobile—on the exact same page—it's a different experience. The slides are on a continuous scroll. Also, when you get to the bottom of the slide show [on mobile], the system automatically loads the next slide show [in a few seconds]."
When I asked Greg more questions, he sent me to the person there responsible for this profitable initiative, Wade Currie, Kiplinger's web operations manager. Currie called their new set-up "responsive programming." With some help, he figured out a way to enhance the mobile experience and keep the same URL.
"I don't know anyone else doing it this way," Currie said. "The slide shows bring in our biggest traffic by far [on desktop], so we didn't want to mess with that. But we wanted to make the mobile experience better. Now it will scroll on mobile and then automatically load another slide show within a few seconds. We programmed it so you get a very different experience [on each platform]."
The new mobile set-up only launched a few weeks ago, and they've already seen a 27% increase in mobile page views and ad revenue (based on impressions).
Currie said he is now looking into testing scrollable slide shows with continuous scroll into the next slide show on all devices. "If we can implement this on a small number of slide shows, then we can test the effects on page views and ad impressions on desktop and tablet," he said. "This will help us make a decision on our overall slide show design to maximize revenue and enhance user experience for our upcoming site redesign later in 2019."
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…