Time Out wants to double-down on video content creation and has earmarked Tumblr, Facebook and Snapchat to help it both scale and monetize the content it creates.
This strategy of using platforms to help scale audiences is a common go-to move for publishers, but the jury is still out on whether that can result in meaningful revenue for them. Still, Time Out’s CEO of digital, Noel Penzer, is confident the platforms will reap monetary value for publishers.
He spoke to Digiday about which platforms it’s prioritizing, and the commercial potential.
Monetization via Facebook Instant Articles
Time Out has only just started publishing content directly to Facebook’s Instant Articles after it opened to all publishers earlier this year. This week, Time launched a native ad partnership via Instant Articles with theater marketing agency AKA to promote productions of “Matilda” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”
But Penzer is keen to tap into the e-commerce potential by making the articles it runs on Instant transactional. “It’s not just about the content play, but the monetization. The reality that we can bring together content, audience and monetization via third-party platforms is a phenomenal opportunity,” he said.
Time Out wants to run sponsored Instant Articles, which would feature “bookable” content that can drive straight through to purchase though its e-commerce partners, like it does on its website. For example, an Instant Article on the Top 10 Things to do in London this weekend provides links with each entry to a commerce partner so people can book or buy directly. “That’s an e-commerce creative solution, offering Time Out a way to monetize our social media audience,” said Penzer.
Tumblr Live Video
Despite having a hefty 500 million users globally, Yahoo-owned Tumblr often gets overshadowed by other shiny new platforms like Snapchat and Facebook’s ever-growing arsenal of tools like Live and Instant Articles. Lately, it has reasserted itself by staking its claim in the video streaming space with Tumblr Live Video. Time Out is one of its launch partners, and the only one with headquarters outside the U.S. As such, the publisher will create and repurpose video for Tumblr Live across its London, New York, Chicago and Paris offices.
Time Out’s editorial pillar is lifestyle activities around major cities. It has streamed content related to its Global Bar Program award for the best bars across five major cities and included videos demonstrating how to make drinks. As part of its City Life program, it will stream quirky new features within big cities. Los Angeles’ architecture scene, for example, has attracted attention lately because a 45-foot glass slide has been built onto the side of US Bank Tower — a skyscraper 1,000 feet high. Time Out will stream that exclusively for Tumblr Live. It’s also got a body-piercing video special on the way.
“Time Out is all about having its pulse on what’s going on in cities that people won’t always know about. We want to bring that to life through these platforms like Tumblr. It helps us bring our content to life and scale it in a different way,” said Penzer. He wouldn’t specify the exact volume of content to run on there, but in total 1,000 social posts go up a week across platforms globally.
Facebook Live video
Time Out has experimented with Facebook Live content in the U.S. and the U.K. Facebook accounts for 83 percent of the publisher’s social traffic, representing 9.3 percent of its global desktop traffic, according to social analytics company SimilarWeb.
Time Out plans content around major tentpole events like the global Gay Pride festival. This year, the festival came just days after the horrifying Orlando shooting in an LGBT nightclub on June 12. Vigils were carried out around the world for those who died and their families. In London, Time Out streamed a vigil on Old Compton Street via Facebook Live. One of the scenes captured was of people voguing in the street, which generated 952,000 views.
Time Out then streamed a lot of content via Facebook Live for the global Gay Pride festival, which followed shortly after. It brought in LGBT influencers, such as British drag queen Jodie Harsh, on some of the videos, like this one filmed from a float, which generated 44,000 views reaching 791,000 people.
Time Out isn’t a Snapchat Discover partner but hasn’t ruled out hope that it will be. One of the obstacles in getting on that particular ladder has been the fact that Snapchat tends to go for mainstream content publishers (like the Mail, The Sun and Sky News) over the likes of Time Out, with its city-specific content, according to Penzer. But conversations are ongoing.
It is a Snapchat Sponsored Stories partner, though, so it has had several takeovers: one with American singer Josh Groban, covering red carpet and backstage at the Tony Awards for Time Out, and a series of exclusive content pieces with British presenter James Corden.
Some of its most successful snaps were around the global Gay Pride festival. Penzer said it received 54 percent more engagement on its Pride snaps than any previous Snapchat activity.