The Week redesigns its U.S. site to catch up to advertiser demand for more native advertising opportunities
The Week redesigned its U.S. website to reflect a shift in its business and provide more space for native ads, such as sponsored ads, to appeal to advertisers who have been moving toward more custom ad offerings for years now.
The news publisher’s site has moved entirely to “lazy loading,” or when a web page loads a section at a time, instead of loading the entire page in one go, often slowing down the process. The pages are cleaner and now load three times faster and, ad viewability is up 20%, according to Andy Price, head of revenue operations North America for TheWeek.com’s parent, Dennis Publishing. Price said display ads are “viewed” when at least 50% of the pixels are in the active section of a user’s browser for at least one second — an industry-standard — measured by Google ActiveView and Integral Ad Science.
Since the redesign went live on May 26, TheWeek.com has seen sessions per user go up 5-10% and time on site up 15-30%, according to editor-in-chief Nico Lauricella, who noted that the numbers are fluctuating. TheWeek.com had 3.3 million total unique visitors in April 2021, down 61% year-over-year, according to Comscore. The company has 400,000 paid print and bundle subscribers.
The changes “are a response to demand we’ve seen over the past five years. Generally, display advertising is flat, and a little down, while native advertising and custom are drivers of growth,” Price said. “There have been less requests for display advertising, but more requests for native advertising” from advertisers, he added. TheWeek.com declined to provide figures to show this trend.
Native advertising revenue is up by “more than 100%” year-over-year, Price said. Display advertising, on the other hand, has “remained steady.” The Week US did not respond to questions on the share of ad space for native versus display advertising on the new website.
TheWeek.com is late in catching up to a trend that many publishers underwent years ago. Publishers like The Atlantic and The New York Times went through similar shifts in their businesses about five years ago, to provide “more native opportunities for better user experience,” said Geoff Litwer, vp of performance display at Tinuiti. “Performance, viewability and click-through rates are all higher for native,” he said. Another ad agency exec who asked to remain anonymous said there was a “void” in TheWeek.com’s “custom opportunities, through native” advertising before these changes to the website.
TheWeek.com’s doubling down on native advertising is buoyed by a new content studio structure. As of last month, Dennis Publishing centralized its content studio, so that its U.S. and U.K. teams can work with commercial writers, editors, designers, production managers and event planners across its portfolio. The studio had a 250% increase in headcount this year, according to Sara Schiano, associate publisher of The Week U.S. She declined to share how many new people were hired or how big the team is now.
TheWeek.com’s native advertising business “is on pace for growth in 2021 over 2020,” Schiano said, but declined to provide further details.
TheWeek.com has also moved to the same data management platform as Kiplinger to allow for better targeting and reach across both websites and cross-domain promotion, according to Price. Sponsored content blocks, or spots on the page reserved for direct sales that blend in with other article links, can be targeted to financial advisors across sites, for example, Schiano said. “We can use both sites to promote content… and get 100,000 visits to a site in a month versus 60,000,” Price said.
TheWeek.com’s website layout is now more flexible to allow editors to move articles and package content around different topics and events. That gives Lauricella the ability to package stories around big topics or events that advertisers can support, such as the upcoming New York mayoral election or recovery from the pandemic, with a mix of analysis and news on a subject.
The site’s navigation is now organized around article types. Talking Points, a new section on the site, contains short-form news analysis from different perspectives and voices. The Opinion section has longer-form deep dives on complex issues, which Lauricella said the publication will produce more of now to “help people break out of their echo chambers.” Over 90% of respondents to a recent survey of readers said “they like to read a range of perspectives, including those they disagree with,” he added.
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