At a time when many publishers are seeing their online visitors traffic drop—to a large extent because of “The Great Facebook Crash”—here is one significant publisher bucking the trend.
The Reader’s Digest Association, now known as Trusted Media Brands, Inc., is demonstrating a massive digital audience growth.
Over the past year, it grew the readership on RD.com 76% to 8.3 million unique visitors. Taste of Home— part of Trusted Media Brands, and the world’s leading food media brand—also grew its audience 39% to 12.7 million unique visitors. Overall visitors across all sites increased by 10 million to 56.6 million, a 20% increase.
Our traffic has really blossomed!
“Our traffic has really blossomed and responded to the TLC and attention we gave our sites,” said Vince Errico, Chief Digital Officer.
Reader’s Digest—which publishes lifestyle, health and wellness content—is one of the top 10 magazine brands, as measured by the Magazine Media 360° report from MPA, the Association of Magazine Media.
How they did it
Over the past year, 60 digital staffers were added to the team to create editorial, video and social media content. The sites focused on publishing more articles tailored for a digital audience rather than print. In addition to that, Trusted Media Brands unified all their websites on a single back-end platform, making it nimbler.
“Our brands were underrepresented online,” said Errico. “By making these changes, we were able to reach our audience, which was probably looking for us but not really finding us.”
The publisher also created a new revenue team to connect advertisers to its growing audience. Over the last year, digital revenue grew 13%.
“These brands have seen so much growth, and we have an opportunity to capitalize on that,” said Chief Revenue Officer Zach Friedman.
Data is going to be a huge piece of our digital sales.
For example, Trusted Media Brands Inc. wants to share data with advertisers about how their customers eat and prepare food.
“We know what recipes are more popular on Monday than on Wednesday,” Friedman said. “We can go out and tell a story about the types of ingredients that are more popular when you are trying to reach our readers.”
Another example is the Family Handyman site, where collecting data will enable the company to connect advertisers to various professionals, e.g., contractors.
In the next year, the company will continue hiring, with 30 additions to the team across content and sales.
In order to monetize its increased readership, advertising isn’t the only revenue strategy. While magazine subscriptions and recipe books have always been part of their revenue mix, the company plans to add more direct-to-consumer offerings and e-commerce initiatives.
Family Handyman, for example, launched DIY University, which offers paid courses on how to perform home repairs.
“Our readers are truly fans in terms of how long they stay with us,” Errico concluded, “and they are asking for more opportunities to interact with us.”
Playing the long game, the publisher is focusing on serving readers and advertisers while differentiating itself with deep engagement, according to Errico.