Building Loyal Audiences in the Attention Economy

JW Insights experts share tips about sustaining engagement when attention spans are shorter than this sent…

Remember that study about humans having a shorter attention span than a goldfish? It’s now more urban legend than science, but for publishers looking to build loyal audiences in the attention economy, it isn’t entirely a myth. Keeping eyeballs on videos and ensuring return visits are no easy tasks under the deluge of digital distractions that compete for viewer attention every day. If you’re looking to combat “Goldfish Syndrome,” take a look at these tips from JW Insights experts.

 

1) Define what loyalty means to you – it’s different for every publisher.

Understand what’s important to your company before you attach your company to particular metrics. Is loyalty measured by the conversion rate from short-form to long-form? Is it the percentage of time viewers watch another video? Or how often they return to your video site each month?

 

Bottom line: Everyone’s got a different metric, and you have to decide what’s right for you.

 

According to Jake McGraw, EVP of Strategy and CTO of attn:, it’s okay to step away from massive numbers and tracking viewership alone. His company, for example, also looks at how much people tell their friends about videos, share videos on social media, or wait for the next episode.

 

2) Support intent to watch.

Viewers are much more likely to complete and engage with a video if they expect to watch it. As Paul Bannister, EVP of CaféMedia, says, “It matters how the user gets to the video.” Consider a viewer’s state of mind: Am I looking to watch this video right now? Am I clicking to play? Or is this video autoplaying in my news feed?

 

3) Appeal to viewers where they are.

For many publishers, this means balancing social media with owned and operated (O&O) sites. According to Paul, “You have to appeal to them where they are.” If the content is good, “that person likes the content wherever it is.” The ultimate goal, over time, is to bring all viewers back to your O&O.

 

4) Produce good content and understand the value of each piece.

It may go without saying that good content is key to attracting a loyal audience, but make sure to keep that process iterative and laser-focused. Said Jared Lansky, CCO of Keywee: “Look at each piece of content as an individual item and look at the return of that item to assess whether you should keep investing. Know that on a story by story level.”

 

5) What works for one platform may not work for another.

“Every platform is different,” said Jake. “What works on Facebook, you can’t just ship to YouTube,” which is a more intent-based platform with people searching for answers. In addition, the YouTube player is often embedded on other sites, a factor that publishers should keep in mind when measuring loyalty.

 

6) Drive traffic to your O&O video site—don’t put your business in somebody else’s hands.

If you’re using social media platforms, don’t rely on them exclusively. Revenue share on Facebook and Google cuts significantly into publisher ad yield. “You’ve got this absurdity of billions of views generating thousands of dollars in revenue,” said moderator Andrew Wallenstein of Variety.

 

To build loyal audiences, drive viewership back to your O&O and diversify your business. In this way, attn: finds that “whatever happens to CPMs on videos published natively on Facebook doesn’t impact us,” said Jake.

 

7) Create a video-centric experience on your O&O site.

Once you’ve driven people to your O&O, make sure their experience is user-friendly. “People can be willing and eager to leave the social platforms,” said Jared, but the video should be the focal point of your site once they arrive. Paul believes emerging tools will help build video-centric user experiences. “You can carve out your loyal audience if you build a video-focused experience on the site.”

 

8) Invest in your long tail audience.

Retention hinges on identifying your most engaged audience. Jake advises that, when plotting viewer retention against video duration, “Cut the first 10 seconds off. Then that’s your audience. Your loyal audience should be based on the long tail – the folks who actually stayed long enough to watch your great content.”

 

To watch the full session:

 

 

Learn more about how JW Player can help you sustain viewer attention. Schedule time to speak with a video expert.

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