Ever since the digital trend list of 2015 by the Search Engine Journal forecasted a continuing shift to mobile for digital media consumption, many mobile-first apps have rocketed to commercial success and Flipboard is no exception.
According to the mobile reading app, Europeans now account for 27 percent of its 100 million monthly readers. Flipboard now has a dozen staffers across Europe, with local language content in the UK, France and, as of May, Germany. Its growth has continued rapidly as this year it picked up more UK publishers, among them Hearst’s Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar and Digital Spy.
What is Flipboard and what makes it so unique?
Originally launched on the Apple iPad in 2010, the company gained more than $200million from investors and quickly gained attention from users due to its unique process of aggregation. The mobile-based app allows users to curate their own digital magazines on any themes they like, which other users are able to follow. Over 15million personalized digital magazines have been created on the platform.
In late 2017, Flipboard took all these magazines and topics from its closed apps to the open web: whether curated by humans or algorithms, its collections of articles can now be found within search engines and have become much more shareable on social networks.
Acting as a host for publishers, the platform is keen to prove that its magazine-like environment has a positive impact on ad impact and viewability. Research released by Flipboard and Kantar Millward Brown showed Flipboard users are 2.6 times more likely to recall ads on its platform and 1.7 times more likely to purchase products compared to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Business publisher Quartz said it had seen a 70 percent increase in the number of Flipboard referral page views between 2017 and 2018. Quartz has roughly 29 different magazines on Flipboard and pitches twice a week to be featured in the platform’s newsletter that goes out to Flipboard users.
“It’s been consistent growth,” said Sari Zeidler, director of growth at Quartz told Digiday. “It’s become a bigger portion of the referral traffic pie in the last year since the Facebook algorithm has shaken up the referral landscape.”
How publishers can benefit from Flipboard’s growth
Flipboard’s impact varies by publisher, with some saying they can gain as much as 10 percent of referral traffic from the platform. On a strong day, for example, London’s City A.M. generates between 10 and 11 percent of its traffic from the platform .
According to Parse.ly, which tracks referral traffic for hundreds of publishers, Flipboard accounts for 1.8 percent of publishers’ overall traffic, just behind Twitter at 2 percent, but trailing Facebook, which drives 28 percent of referral traffic.
However, Flipboard isn’t without its limitations. Publishers including Hearst have noted inconsistencies in traffic referral whilst others would like more flexibility to tweak their own magazines and profiles – currently Flipboard only dedicates a handful of its employees to publisher partnerships.
However, the benefits of Flipboard for publishers are clear. It takes little to no effort to distribute on Flipboard; editors, as well as algorithms, decide on the content in the feed; and Flipboard sends traffic back to publishers so they can monetize impressions from direct sales. Because reading is core to the purpose of Flipboard, it also attracts people who read for long periods of time and this, combined with its upward growth, could be a real advantage to publishers who leverage the platform.