23% of adults swear at their phones when a site they visit doesn’t work.
96% of people with smartphones report visiting a site that was obviously not not built for the mobile web.
(Source: Google, ‘What Users Want Most From Mobile Sites Today’)
The Best Websites Create Reader-Specific Experiences
Hi, my name is Joe, and I’m a tech news junkie. I can’t start my day without scouring boards like Hacker News and The Verge, but I start questioning my sanity after checking back a few hours later during a 5 minute headline reboot, only to discover the same now-stale headlines. Blah!
It doesn’t have to be this way, though.
Instead of loading the newest stories at the top of the page and trailing down in order of freshness, some developers and content creators are endeavoring to make each visit unique to the visitor entering the site. For example, if I’m coming to your site for the first time today, perhaps I discover the following:
But what about people who visit more than once per [insert time variation here: day / week / month]? Using code like aware.js gives you the power to customize the experience for these avid readers:
Notice the differences in layout? To the first time visitor each piece of content is fresh and new, so it makes sense to feature multiple links with equal weight and allow the user to guide their experience. Returning visitors, like me hitting a tech blog for the second time in a day, can be easily turned off by stories perceived as ‘old news’. The second layout puts far more weight on a single piece of new content that is intended to hold my attention.
Dollars and Cents Rationale: Newspapers are losing print ad revenue at seven times the rate they grow digital ad dollars. Building stickier, more user-centric platforms is essential to growing — and holding onto — your market share.
Native, i.e. Intelligent, Advertising Opportunities Emerge for Publishers
Content reformatting is relatively simple (All you need is a bit of code and the willingness to try something new). Integrating more compelling advertisements is trickier, but more possible than ever thanks to the pioneering efforts of businesses like Facebook and Buzzfeed.
Facebook’s Sponsored Stories, for example, build ad units that are based on actions users take in support of a brand. If I like a story about Proctor and Gamble’s Tide Detergent setting up disaster relief support via the ‘Loads of Hope‘ campaign, this single action can be used to feature Tide as a story in the News Feeds of my friends (Remember, they will see the ‘ad’ as a vote by me on behalf of Tide).
BuzzFeed focuses on creating opportunities for brands to receive earned media attention by sponsoring content (A little more involved than buying actions that trigger ads using the Facebook model). But this is still a third party network…what about more effective content/advertising delivery on your own digital presence?
What if you could identify users by name and explicit interest categories/products/services in the milliseconds between the time they enter your URL in their browser and load the page on their device? Thanks to the emergence of real time bidding, that’s already happening on the supply side (Google Display Network, etc). It’s become easier to define users based on browsing history (intent), directly relevant previous visits (retargeting), and the topic presented on a given page (contextual) and serve ads accordingly.
What about individual sites extracting the information available from anonymized cookies to create more compelling experiences for visitors?
How much more effective would my conversion rate be if my digital property auto-detected the fact your name is Bill Rogers, a 34-year-old tax attorney from Reading, PA with an advanced degree in mathematics and season tickets to the Pittsburgh Steelers? Would I serve you more refined content and match it against optimized ‘native ads’ (i.e. sponsored content)?
Perhaps my inventory/products/services would load differently depending on whether you were a returning visitor, and based on specific user categories we just mentioned. Think this stuff is far off, or that the technology will be too hard to scale?
Consider the EyeSee Mannequin by Italian manufacture Almax SpA. Cameras inside the models utilize facial recognition software to help store owners determine the groups spending the most time with their merchandise. It’s only a matter of time before this technology syncs directly with advertising databases (Of course, there are still options for avoiding online tracking, but the tradeoff in relevance and usability may not be worth it).
If you’re a marketer interested in reaching shoppers/users more effectively this year, set a Google Alert for “Responsive Content”, make sure to follow innovators like Clay Christensen, and consider investing time with free tools like Codecademy to grow your understanding of the code powering these new solutions.