Flipboard has been growing its presence in Europe, taking advantage of the opportunity to work closely with publishers who are looking for more stable distribution.
The mobile reading app says Europeans account for 27 percent of its 100 million monthly readers. Flipboard has a dozen staffers across Europe, with local language content in the U.K., France and as of May, Germany. Also in May, it picked up more U.K. publishers, among them Hearst’s Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar and Digital Spy.
According to Hearst, Flipboard is its fourth biggest source of traffic referral in the U.K.
“We can use Flipboard dynamically and manually. There are both lower- and higher-lift ways of using it: RSS feeds pick up our unique takes on current stories, and we can also work with Flipboard directly to curate content packages,” said Betsy Fast, executive director of digital editorial strategy at Hearst UK. “There’s a real opportunity to be creative, and Flipboard has been receptive to our ideas and generous with feedback.”
The benefits of Flipboard for publishers are clear. It takes little to no effort to distribute on Flipboard; editors, as well as algorithms, decide on the content in the feed; and Flipboard sends traffic back to publishers so they can monetize impressions from direct sales. Because reading is core to the purpose of Flipboard, it also attracts people who read for long periods of time.
Flipboard’s impact varies by publisher, with some saying they can get as much as 10 percent of referral traffic there. According to Parse.ly, which tracks referral traffic for hundreds of publishers, Flipboard accounts for 1.8 percent of publishers’ traffic, just behind Twitter at 2 percent, but trailing Facebook, which drives 28 percent of referral traffic, although this was down from 40 percent a year ago.
Business publisher Quartz said it has seen a 70 percent increase in the number of Flipboard referral pageviews between 2017 and 2018, although the publisher wouldn’t give specifics. Quartz has roughly 29 different magazines on Flipboard and pitches twice a week to be featured in the platform’s newsletter that goes out to Flipboard users.
“It’s been consistent growth,” said Sari Zeidler, director of growth at Quartz. “It’s become a bigger portion of the referral traffic pie in the last year since the Facebook algorithm has shaken up the referral landscape.”
Zeidler said Flipboard gives a lot of feedback about which content — across the platform and specific to Quartz — performs by region. “They are very global, which is great for us,” she said. “They are well-staffed, [well-sourced] and knowledgeable about the different regions they operate in; that shows in our regional reader patterns.”
Dazed Media has had magazine brands Another and Another Man on the platform for over a year, and flagship brand Dazed joined Flipboard at the beginning of the year after Facebook announced it would deprioritize publishers’ content. According to the publisher, Dazed is getting around 5 percent of its total referral traffic from Flipboard, while the other two titles are getting between 6 and 7 percent.
However, Flipboard isn’t without its limitations. Publishers including Hearst have noted inconsistencies in traffic referral. For Another and Another Man, traffic peaked between October and December last year, with the most popular stories being image-led, either photography or fashion.
For some publisher partners, Flipboard sells the ads within the platform and shares the revenue, but on-platform traffic doesn’t always translate to revenue.
The platform is keen to prove that its magazine-like environment has a positive impact on its ads. Research commissioned by Flipboard released this week with Kantar Millward Brown of 2,000 U.K. mobile users showed Flipboard users are 2.6 times more likely to recall ads on its platform and 1.7 times more likely to purchase products as a result of the ads compared to seeing them on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“We were previously set up with them selling ads on our content within the app and giving us a rev share, then moved to the more common way of linking back to our site,” said Bridget Mills-Powell, head of digital at Dazed Media, adding that this means traffic is more effectively monetized. “It’s been working fine, but hard to say if there’s been a big change as it’s just been running like that since the start of the year.”