The biggest viral publisher you’ve never heard of
What happens when you take an hyper-viral publishing model and apply it to a specific topic? Major traffic growth, for one.
Independent Journal Review, an ideological cross between Drudge Report and Upworthy, has rapidly become one of the biggest viral sites on the Web today. In the last year, the site has seen its traffic increase from 1.5 million uniques to a high of 12.9 million in January, according to comScore. Quantcast pegs it as the 45th-most trafficked site in the U.S., eclipsing even FoxNews and The New York Times.
IJReview has managed this, seemingly, by doing its best Upworthy impression. Its articles, which are rarely more than a few hundred words, combine scandalous, curiosity-inducing headlines (“This Guy Stops Black Americans On The Street To Hear Their Thoughts On ‘White Privilege’) with a focus on conservative interests (“What a Firearms Ace Can Do with Just About Every Kind of Gun Imaginable is Pretty Sick“).
It’s a formula derived from the tradition of old-school conservative email chains, which combine a taste for the conspiratorial with a general distrust for mainstream media. The site’s most popular post — “When Cars Started Sinking Into The Street, People Gathered To Watch. But The Last 15…Wow!” — was viewed nearly 9 million times and generated 487,000 shares.
“We pulled this off by putting the right information in front of the right people,” said Bert “Bubba” Atkinson, Independent Journal Review’s editor-in-chief. “We think politics can be very entertaining, and it clearly has viral potential, but it’s traditionally been projected from an inside-the-beltway viewpoint that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to social sharing.”
IJReview’s success over the past year came just as Facebook moved to clamp down on viral sites’ reach on the social network. After months of consistent growth, traffic to Upworthy and Elite Daily, for example, dropped 51 percent and 47 percent, respectively, from November to January. IJReview’s traffic, too, has taken a 50 percent dive from its highs in January, and for good reason: 69 percent of IJReview’s desktop traffic last month came from Facebook, where it has 69,000 likes. (The site also runs the “I Am Conservative” Facebook page, which has more than 5 million likes so far.)
Despite its traffic fluctuations, IJReview has been profitable since it was founded, largely thanks to its lean 10-person team. While the site runs traditional pre-roll and display ads, it is also focused on building “valuable audience segments with information on social sharers that can be targeted from a brand and advocacy perspective on certain issues,” Atkinson said.
Ultimately, this political take on the Upworthy model puts IJReview in a better place with marketers than most viral sites, which chase virality but lack focus.”I think they are able to appeal to many advertisers especially strategic marketers that are interested in content that surrounds issues, cause, influence and digital advocacy” said Erik Requidan, director of sales at Intermarkets, which consults with publishers to market their ad inventory to buyers. “Marketers don’t just care about any content that blows up. They also want to reach relevant audiences where engagement is happening.”
French advertising organizations lodge complaint with competition regulator over Apple privacy changes
The coalition of trade bodies allege Apple's upcoming changes, related to its identifier for advertisers, are a sign of it leveraging its dominant position to distort competition.
‘Great position to steal share’: As use-it-or-lose-it ad spending picks up, TikTok emerges as an unlikely beneficiary
TikTok could emerge as one of the unlikely winners during the end-of- year scramble from advertisers to dump as much of their media dollars as possible.
CNN, Tastemade and ForwardPMX are Digiday Marketing and Advertising Awards Europe shortlisters
As an unprecedented health crisis has swept across the globe, marketers and advertisers across Europe have been forced to communicate with consumers in unprecedented ways.
SponsoredBrands are tapping gameday energy to drive engagement with content on social
As the world adjusts to the new normal, sports and entertainment publishers are faced with a challenge — with live audiences no longer able to take their seats at stadiums and arenas, how do they get passionate fans involved in the energy of the moment on social media? From the NBA to MTV, publishers had to […]
Bloomberg Media tunes up ABBA to break down barriers between its ads and subscriber businesses
The business news publisher's ad ops and product groups now sit in the same organization as its subscriptions team.
The 74’s publisher Jim Roberts on bridging equality divides in education and making trust bonds with audiences
One of The 74's central focuses before the pandemic was the achievement gap in America's education system.