Surprise, publishers are finding a new source of referrals: Flipboard.
In the last six months, dozens of publishers have made their content available on Flipboard, an aggregator platform that launched in 2010. Time Inc. UK started putting all its brands on the platform in April. Now, the company said Flipboard is its fourth-biggest referrer behind Google, Facebook and Twitter, making up between 1 and 2 percent of total traffic across titles. Condé Nast Britain has added four titles to the platform and said the platform is starting to rival Twitter. Between 6 and 7 percent of traffic to Another Magazine, part of Dazed Media, comes from Flipboard. On a strong day for U.K. finance publisher City A.M., Flipboard can account for between 10 and 11 percent of its traffic.
These aren’t Facebook-like numbers, but publishers are thirsty for platforms outside the dominant duopoly, and every bit helps. The upside: Flipboard doesn’t require lots of tech heavy-lifting. For thousands of publishers, including Time Inc. UK and Another Magazine, Flipboard simply takes the RSS feed, displays publisher content and directs traffic back to publishers’ sites, where they can monetize their traffic and keep the user data.
“Referral numbers are solid,” said Sam Robson, Time Inc. UK’s group audience development director. “It’s essentially zero effort, which is really attractive. So many platforms need bespoke content. We’re not in a position where we can throw time and resource at something and just hope it makes money in the future.”
Flipboard works more closely with around 300 publishers, including Reuters, the BBC and The Telegraph, designing their webpages for the platform. Here, Flipboard sells the ads, sharing the revenue with publishers.
“Increasingly, as businesses have changed, they want to own and direct the revenue themselves,” said Marci McCue, head of content and communications at Flipboard.
The platform has also recently signed up Spanish newspaper El País, French finance paper Les Echos and German news site Spiegel Online in an effort to grow its European footprint.
Flipboard is not forceful about keeping publishers within its platform, according to Robson. “[Flipboard is] happy to be used as a referral platform rather than a walled garden,” he said.
“There’s more control [for publishers] with this way of working,” agreed Bridget Mills-Powell, head of digital at Dazed Media.
The Flipboard audience for Another Magazine skews older than Facebook, fitting mostly into the 34- to 54-year-old bracket, according to the publisher. The stories that drive a lot of referral traffic from Flipboard are highly visual, like this photo series of beautiful Catholic confessional booths and this post on interior design inspiration. This is in line with Flipboard’s ethos of retaining a magazine-like quality.
“It looks after itself,” said Mills-Powell. “It’s small compared to Facebook, but there’s room for growth.”
Flipboard claims it has 100 million monthly readers. During the first half of this year, it had 30 million average weekly active users (not including tablet or iPhone users), according to App Annie.
In a Parsely analysis of its network of over 250 publishers, referral traffic from Flipboard has grown over the last six months. While more readers and publishers signing up for the platform would contribute to this, as would increased mobile usage, it’s driving considerably more traffic than Facebook’s fast-loading mobile articles initiative, Instant Articles.
Platforms tout their reach, but the competition on Flipboard is restricted to just publishers. Equally, Flipboard is more interested in hosting text articles and images over video. This works well for potentially dry subjects like technology, which could struggle to catch fire on social media. “On Flipboard, readers are there to consume content,” said Robson. “It has a more specialist-dedicated enthusiast.”
“People want quick encapsulation of their interests,” agreed Tim Miller, audience development manager at City A.M. “It fits into the trend of people having their preferred platform, whether that’s Facebook Instant Articles or Apple News; people trust those sources to give them curated feeds.”
Publishers would like more flexibility to tweak their own magazines and profiles with Flipboard, however. Currently, the platform — which dedicates four out of its 100 employees to publisher partnerships — makes these changes.
There’s also no visibility on the interaction that happens within the platform, like sharing articles. “There’s no insights dashboard,” said Robson. “The benefit is there’s no management, but that means there is literally no management.”
How publishers are future proofing their commerce offerings for post-pandemic consumers
Four publishers gathered at Digiday Media's Commerce for Publishers Forum to talk about their affiliate programs and strategies.
Member ExclusiveMedia Briefing: Publishers and media unions are still haggling over office-return plans heading into the summer
In this week's Media Briefing, senior media reporter Sara Guaglione reports on how unions at some major media companies are pushing back against publishers' return to office mandates, with The New York Times Guild seemingly netting a victory on Wednesday.
‘He thought I was accusing him of being racist’: Confessions of a comms pro on working with out of touch leadership
The [CEO] and one of the other co-founders felt the need to point out that they mentor black people and donate to black-focused charities. 'It wasn't about them, but they were making it about them.'
SponsoredHow marketers and retailers are unlocking the true value of retail media
Ben Kneen, senior director of product management, Xandr It’s a challenging time for retailers in the advertising industry. As they cope with supply chain woes and inflation-related pressures, they seek high-margin revenue streams amid evolving privacy regulations and massive shifts in identity solutions — including IDFA, the deprecation of third-party cookies and more. In light […]
As economic uncertainty grows, senior media buyers expect decent upfront pricing options across linear and digital
TV sellers face a steeper uphill climb to sell billions of ad time in advance, as market indicators look increasingly gloomy. But that's not stopping one seller from seeking aggressive pricing and volume gains.
How Microsoft plans to storm adland: ‘Attribution, CTV, in-game ads and potential M&A’
Microsoft Advertising VP Rob Wilk explains how it plans to burnish its $10bn ad business