As head of global paid media for iQ, Intel’s Wired-esque branded digital magazine, Luke Kintigh has overseen remarkable year-over-year growth: 2.5 million unique views a month in 2015, up from just under a million per month from the year before.
How has he done it? It’s not all paid media—although he has had great success with Outbrain and Taboola. Rather, to optimize content, he’s helped oversee the implementation of a proprietary algorithm, a way to formalize data that gives scores to certain post-click user interactions, much like Coke has done with its Journey site.
As a result, Kintigh spends his days looking at so many dashboards that he often feels more like a stock trader. We’ll let him explain.
Content Magazine: You’ve been growing the iQ website traffic very effectively. Is growing traffic the sole focus?
Luke: A big focus for us is not only how do we get a lot of folks to come to the site, now it's about how do we keep an audience. We have these two pie charts that we look at constantly. One of them is looking at the monthly traffic and splitting it by repeat and new readers. And so we've continually seen our repeat readers increase. And then the other pie chart is looking at traffic from earned and paid. Again, we've seen a substantial increase in that, about 60% paid right now and about 40% earned. And we're trying to figure out how do we seed articles and content into places, like Reddit, and get the content in front of influencers and link out to other sites.
“We've correlated time spent on site to brand lift, the number one objective for iQ.”
What’s the business case for the site?
It's not a marketing blog trying to convert people into buying products. Intel, as a business, doesn't sell directly; it sells through retailers and through OEMs. As of right now, we're looking at time spent on site, which is becoming an increasingly important metric for us because what we've done is we've correlated time on site to brand lift, which is the number one objective for iQ.
In terms of a business case, iQ content, when married with native advertising, is extremely beneficial to Intel in terms of the performance that it provides us. And it doesn't even really compare in terms of the performance to other media tactics. So there's a tangible media investment value that we can show compared to other things we're doing.
You’ve correlated time on site to brand lift. How?
We've actually surveyed readers who spent more time on site and reading the articles at an article level and those that have read kind of surface level, like less than a minute, versus two minutes or more. And no surprise, but there's higher brand lift to those people that actually read the content fully, comprehensively.
“With the subscription model we’re going to try to put a value to every subscriber.”
What other data points are you looking at for post-click actions?
We're looking at media performance numbers, at a cost per action, essentially. It's a customized metric, taking the cost of the media against the actual action someone takes—everything from clicking play on a video to click out. Not just reading it. We call that our PR metric. It's engagement rate, basically. We're looking at that from the media side and investment side.
How do you increase the engagement rate?
We look at the performance across an entire series of content topics and formats, and we’re saying "Okay, here's generally what's working.” So when we push our videos to the top of the page under the first or second paragraph, that's going to help people stay more engaged. On our subheads we use more of a list format that's going to help with continued engagement. Same with position of the subhead and the bylines and images, and everything from using gallery images and where the placement of those are.
“In India, [mobile adoption] is a lot higher than in other markets.”
iQ is produced in 20 countries and 15 different languages. What kind of challenges does that present?
There's keeping on top of how people consume content in all these different markets. India is a good example: it's highly, highly mobile. Everything is kind of mobile now and the majority of iQ readers, no matter what country, are typically going to be on a mobile device. But India, it's a lot higher than other markets, so we have to consider that. How do you not only create the content for a local audience, but how do you also format that a little bit more so for mobile? Probably 80% to 90% of the people reading it are going to be on a mobile device and not a desktop.
You have plans on instituting a subscriber model.
Once we move into the subscription model we’re going to try to put a value to a subscriber—not necessarily a dollar value, but looking at the behavior of subscribers versus non-subscribers and being able to report things, like a subscriber to iQ is three times more likely to go into a Best Buy and check out an Intel product, or they're four times more likely to come to an Intel event. So we're trying to move more into the actual audience that we own in the sense that they’ve done what every brand or business wants them to do: have them sign up and raise their hand and say "We want to get more content from you."