Publishers look to SEO, syndication and email for growth

As social media distribution falters, it’s time to take an old page out of the playbook.

It’s a bit of déjà vu all over again. As we previously reported earlier this year in our monthly analysis of the Magazine Media 360º Brand Audience Report, publishers have suddenly started crowing over how effectively they’re driving increasingly more organic search traffic, leveraging email to develop larger and more engaged audiences, and even pushing the value of their syndication partners and their content portals.

Is this 2017 or 2007?

Time Inc.’s Essence brand is a case in point. Essence tells us that while its social channel remains a top priority for distribution, up 53% in referrals year-over-year in Q1 2017, both newsletter referrals (+278%) and SEO visits (+89%) are leading in growth. Likewise, partners like MSN, Yahoo and Flipboard remain important priorities.

Arguably, no publisher has been more aggressive about optimizing social distribution in recent years than Bauer Xcel Media. The meteoric growth of InTouch, Life&Style and J-14 were grounded in savvy, data-driven social optimization. But Bauer EVP Allison Mezzafonte admits times have changed. The publisher is focusing on a more diversified audience strategy this year “to reduce the risk of having all of our eggs in one basket,” she says. And one basket, in particular, has become notably less predictable.

“Over the last several years, Facebook has been kind to publishers, and that allowed us all to become a little too reliant on the platform as a source of traffic. Updated Facebook algorithms, fake news and everything else that’s happened over the past year has made it increasingly more challenging for us to organically reach our audience on the platform, and it’s served as a bit of a wake up call to publishers, encouraging us to diversify our traffic sources. In truth, Facebook has done us quite a favor!”

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