“I’m an evangelist for editorial,” said Avlon. “With technology, it’s easy to lose sight of the other side of the equation. You need to get the data right, sure, and there are enormous opportunities in the ‘science of content’ but having a creative site is also important.”
On Millennials, mobile, content marketing
Avlon said he believes in the need to “skate towards the puck,” referring to the Millennial generation, who have a high love of news, politics and pop culture. “You need to embrace and respect this,” he said. “There is a reward for news organisations who respect the intelligence of this generation.”
Millennials also have an appetite for ‘hard’ news and The Daily Beast’s top two verticals are entertainment and world news. “The rise of social means that foreign news isn’t foreign in the way it was before,” said Avlon.
Editor-in-chief since 2013, Avlon said The Daily Beast has seen total uniques up 33 per cent year-on-year since (site achieves 20m uniques per month) and mobile usage is currently at 56 per cent. “Millennials and mobile are intimately connected,” said Avlon.
On “Tinder for news”
So how does The Daily Beast engage millennials to achieve this high engagement? The company’s Read This Skip That app, which Avlon referred to as “Tinder for news” is seeing huge engagement, with users three times more likely to revisit and spend five minutes reading articles. “We get deep engagement by offering simplicity – it allows people to read on commutes, for example,” he said.
The shift to social is driving the majority (up 239 per cent) of The Daily Beast’s traffic. Avlon said the site is seeing the home page becoming less and less relevant, with only a quarter of visits coming via it.
Interestingly, Avlon said the company is seeing an increasing number of users opting for ‘closed’ social networks, like Snapchat. “These networks are an engine for growth for the news industry,” he said. “It’s a much more intimate connection, but potentially will resonate in a more narrow fashion. Sharing in closed circuit social networks is becoming more popular, and it’s a trend we will see more of in future. This is because people are more likely to share more openly in closed networks. I think the potential barrage of criticism you can receive could be one reason why people are reluctant to share on open social networks.”
Story by Amy Duffin.