The global COVID-19 pandemic changed pretty much everything in 2020, and that includes digital publishing.

As the pandemic continues into 2021, there are signs that some shifts in consumer behavior may become permanent, or at least stick around long-term. That has implications for your digital publishing strategy in the coming year.

Here are some of the most important digital publishing statistics and trends, as well as strategies to get the most out of your content.

Think Mobile, and Omnichannel

By now, everyone knows that digital publishers need to make their content mobile-friendly. It’s been happening for years, but with people spending a LOT more time at home, smartphones have become even more of a lifeline than before.

Research from We Are Social shows that 5.22 billion people worldwide now use a mobile phone, an increase of 93 million since January 2020.

Image source: We Are Social

In addition, people are spending more time on their phones. App Annie reveals that the average time spent on mobile devices is now over four hours a day, up 20% from 2020.

Image source: App Annie

These stats suggest that content for mobile smartphone users is a great focus for your digital publishing efforts this year.

That doesn’t mean you can ignore other platforms, however. The same research shows that while 90% of people use smartphones for browsing, around 66% also use a laptop or desktop.

It’s no surprise that publishers and marketers have had to adapt to reach consumers sheltering at home. According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 46% of B2C marketers changed their content distribution and promotion strategy, and 43% pivoted to do more online promotion. Some 40% of marketers used paid promotion to get their content seen.

Image source: Content Marketing Institute

Digital or Bust

Staying at home also means that consumers are primed for digital consumption. In 2020, publishers who weren’t able to pivot found they were less relevant to consumers who had no other way to connect.

For 2021, top marketers predict that digital experiences are now expected, and central to customers’ interactions with brands. In fact, now that consumers have made this shift, there’s no going back, especially since research from the Impacts Experience blog suggests that it could take a couple of years for people to want to go out at the same levels as 2019.

Image source: Impacts Experience

Content Recommendations for Digital Publishers

So what kind of content should you create?

Here are our top recommendations.

Video is a Sure Thing

If there’s one kind of content that’s a safe bet for digital publishers, it’s video. Activate Consulting research shows that video consumption time increased by 43% during shelter in place restrictions, and is expected to record sustained growth of 8% even after these restrictions end.

Image source: Activate Consulting

Video keeps people on your site longer and has a 41% higher click through rate (CTR) in video search results than text-based content. The CMI agrees that pre-produced videos are among the most successful marketing content, along with blogs and email newsletters.

Create Interactive Experiences

According to the CMI, interactive content is even more important when people are spending more time at home. The interactive part keeps people engaged and provides a better experience for them.

In addition to quizzes, polls, and surveys, you can level-up with interactive infographics and ebooks. And you can combine this trend with the shift to video by making interactive videos. You don’t have to remake Netflix’s Bandersnatch, but you can use some of the same techniques to wow your audience.

Win Trust with Quality

At the same time, with so many people producing digital content, the way to stand out and win consumers’ trust is to create high quality content that really meets their needs. Useful content has become particularly popular, likely because more people are looking for ways to complete tasks and get information without leaving home. Helping your customers while staying on-brand is the way to go.

Show Your Social Values

Related to that, consumers are much more interested in knowing what your social values are as a brand, and they don’t want to see virtue signaling. Research from Google shows that 63% of consumers expect companies that make a statement about racial equity to follow up with concrete action.

Failure to be consistent could damage the perception of your brand. Professional marketing community Relevance agrees that being vocal and active are the way to go, and our own predictions for 2021 and beyond say (and hope) diversity, equity and inclusion will be embedded in what publishers do.

Using Native Advertising for Content Promotion

Once you’ve decided which content you’re creating, it’s important to ensure it reaches your intended audience. Native advertising is one of the best ways to do this. Research from eMarketer shows that spending on native ads continues to rise, reaching $44 billion in 2020.

Image source: eMarketer

That’s because they’re effective. Since most consumers block ads, traditional display advertising isn’t the best way to get your content to them. Because native ads blend in with content, high quality native promotions are much more likely to reach consumers. And our native advertising stats show they have an 8.8x higher CTR than display ads, meaning more people will see your content.

In addition, you can put ads for digital content at the end of existing content, so it shows up when consumers are looking for the next piece of content to consume. That’s when you get the best native advertising ROI.

Improving Content Effectiveness With Taboola Trends

Want to get the most from your digital content promotions? Use Taboola’s trends tool. For example, you can check out the Topics tab to see which issues are trending and create relevant content to share quickly and easily. It allows you to filter topics by niche and location, so you can make sure they’re relevant to your brand.

To build winning creatives, check out trending keywords via the Keywords tab. You can see the top 20 keywords and sort the data by content type, platform, country, and language. Here are the top keywords in Canada just before Valentine’s Day:

If you’re creating video, the trends tool will help you choose the right type of video, so you can decide whether you’re using animation or not, and if color is the right move.

Again, you can filter video trends by country, device, duration, and choose either completion or viewability as a metric. In the example below, the videos most likely to be completed for US mobile users feature air travel, sleep, and people sitting.

You can also explore image trends to see what’s most suitable depending on niche, location, and more. For example, removing text from your image increases the CTR by 41%, while adding a person increases it by 39%.

Before hitting the “Publish” button, use the Title Analyzer to find the perfect headline to entice people to view your content. In the example below, Lead Generation Marketing Guide has a much higher CTR than The Best Lead Gen Marketing Guide for 2021 Success.

Why Publishers Choose Taboola For Digital Publishing

For publishers, Taboola offers the chance to engage audiences with new and relevant content and, in turn, to share their own high-quality content with new audiences.

Here are some of the ways Taboola helps publishers:.

Publishers can refine how content is presented by using the Trends tool, which tracks 75 million clicks across 50 billion impressions each week. Trends is powered by Taboola Newsroom, which Summit Media uses to drive content decisions. As one of the largest digital lifestyle publishers in the Philippines, with 14 digital brands, Summit needs to understand their audience’s media consumption and sharing preferences. Taboola Newsroom sends alerts to Summit’s content team based on search and social signals, and the team acts on 50% of those alerts to deliver the content their audience really cares about. Summit media - Taboola Newsroom dataAnother option is to give visitors an appealing scrolling newsfeed of relevant contentReach PLC, the UK’s largest national and regional multimedia content publisher, wanted to engage site visitors across its brands and increase revenue, without disrupting visitors’ experience. Reach used Taboola Feed to offer visitors an endless feed with organic content, sponsored content and video, and third party cards. Reach used Taboola’s Audience Exchange to increase traffic across its various brands by 30%, and saw a 65% increase in revenue after switching to Taboola Feed.

Reach PLC Taboola Feed case study

Publishers can also retain audiences longer on their siteCBS Interactive wanted to keep visitors engaged with organic content on their site, and monetize that content without disrupting the visitor experience. By using Taboola Feed to recommend relevant news stories to visitors, CBS Interactive boosted the organic CTR by 31%. Other CBS brands also benefited from the move, with CBS News seeing organic CTR improve by 49%, and CBS Sports seeing an 8% boost in mobile organic CTR.

CBS Taboola Feed

Along with all of that, Taboola provides in-depth analytics and A/B testing to help you get the most from your content.

There’s another change that makes Taboola a smart choice. With third-party cookies possibly on their way out, publishers need another way to understand visitor behavior and get better ROI from their content campaigns.

Since Taboola uses first-party cookies as well, our contextual advertising solution won’t be affected by the coming change. And our world-class audience targeting solution means you can guarantee that the right people will see the right content at the right time.

That’s it! In this guide, we’ve shared some stats about the digital publishing landscape, including the many ways it has changed in the last year. You’ve seen the most important content to focus on, and how you can promote it effectively with Taboola’s native advertising solutions and tools. Now it’s time to get started with these tactics and improve the ROI of your content promotion efforts.

Get more information on Taboola’s solutions for publishers.

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