Loyalty over linkbait

Broadcasting & Cable has some interesting quotes from Vivian Schiller, senior VP and chief digital officer, NBC News about why NBC broke up its joint relationship with Microsoft and moved away from its portal model to one of – according to B&C – “building a loyal following rather than blind page views.”

“What you get with a portal is a huge [influx] of traffic and you see a lot of unique visitors,” said Schiller during a keynote discussion with B&C programming editor Andrea Morabito as part ofB&C/Multichannel News’ Next TV summit on Thursday. “But the bounce rate is extremely high… It’s not really going to be your loyal, engaged audience.”


“I think that how you measure success is changing,” she said. “It’s about finding your niche, finding your quality and tapping into what you can do best.”

Truth. Although how this squares with NBC’s decision to shutter Everyblock – as unique and niche a news site as there was with a loyal, engaged audience – is for others to answer.

In any case, unique content brings you loyalty. If your headlines or story structure are all about the quick-click you won’t stand out. If you can promise advertisers consistent traffic from a specific demographic or provide a type of content consistently to subscribers who want it, you can sell that. Traffic spikes and stories with empty calories that don’t speak to your core audience are not monetizable and a waste of your time.

Moreover, if you’re chasing the same stories as everyone else, that’s a mistake. As a news site, know your core subjects and develop your newsroom around them. You don’t have to weigh in on every little thing just because it’s “blowing up on social.” (For this week, we can call this the “Not-everyone-needs-to-cover-the-Check-Please!-host-search rule.) Frequent deviation from your core subjects will confuse your audience and dilute your site’s value. Know what you do and do it well and leave the rest to others who can’t.

The above developed from some things I posted to Twitter yesterday. Thanks to Benji Feldheim and Ernest Wilkins for their thoughts on it.

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