The science behind crafting sticky content that engages your audience
Published: 11 Dec 2023
In an age where consumers have a wealth of media competing for their attention, you need your content to be ‘sticky’: to catch the audience’s attention, to engage their interest, to encourage them to return to your content time and again.
But what can digital publishers practically do to increase the stickiness of their content? Eleven of our Associate Members shared their top tips to help you deliver the maximum return on your work.
To enhance content stickiness and optimise returns, media owners must prioritise three key pillars. Firstly, understanding the audience is paramount—utilising data analytics and feedback to decipher preferences ensures content resonates. Secondly, impactful content creation is essential, leveraging compelling narratives, visuals, and engagement strategies. Lastly, personalisation is the game-changer, tailoring content to individual preferences. By honing in on these aspects, media owners can create a magnetic pull, keeping audiences engaged and ensuring maximum returns on their content investments. Also, using some elements like quizzes, polls, or comments can allow active readers engagement. In general, media owners should prioritise mobile responsiveness for on-the-go accessibility and utilise push notifications strategically to re-engage users.
Benjamin Lanfry, Chief Supply Officer, Ogury
To enhance the stickiness of their content, publishers should focus on creating high-quality, engaging material that resonates with their audience. Users like to interact with content in different ways, so incorporating multimedia elements like audio, videos, infographics, and AR/VR can significantly increase engagement while catering to customers’ unique preferences. To ensure repeat visits and improve brand loyalty, building a community around their content can provide a great return for publishers. That can include engaging with customers on social media, forums, and comment sections or creating a space on their website for users to interact with each other. Publishers can also crowdsource ideas from customers, promoting collaboration and a sense of community.
Simon Burgess, Business Development Director EMEA, Blockthrough
Publishers can boost content stickiness by prioritising personalisation. Crafting compelling, well-researched articles that appeal to your reader base is the foundation stone for any publisher, but with the entire web at users’ fingertips, publishers must provide personalised experiences to optimise content stickiness and keep their users coming back for more. Using data-driven insights and AI-driven recommendation algorithms, publishers can tailor individual experiences on their site, creating more meaningful connections, increasing the likelihood of prolonged engagement, and increasing ROI. By embracing personalisation as a cornerstone, publishers not only ensure content resonance but also cultivate a loyal audience, fostering lifetime value and sustainability for their business.
Jason Iliou, Director, UK Publisher Account Manager, Taboola
A recent McKinsey study showed that most consumers expect personalised experiences and interactions. The same expectations apply to digital publishers; the more personalised the content journey is to that individual user, the more likely they are to engage, and trust publishers with both their attention and data.
Audience trust ultimately means authentication, and a revenue opportunity. By creating a clear value exchange with users - whether that be personalised content, exclusive offers or other preferences - this provides publishers with the opportunity to create an authenticated identity strategy that enables their inventory be linked to marketer data and drive higher CPMs, all while providing the user with an enhanced experience.
Nora Schwab-Mouawad, Director Publisher Development UK, LiveRamp
Crafting content stickiness revolves around relevance, delivering a positive user experience, and leaving a lasting impression. Pairing written articles with complementary videos aims to engage users in the right context, influencing their mindset for conversion. The video's purpose is to offer additional depth and appeal, thus enticing readers to become active viewers. This synergy between written content and video not only bolsters engagement but also encourages users to revisit, fostering a stronger bond with the publisher's webpage. When strategically placed, video content serves the dual return publishers seek: the return of satisfied users to their webpage and the return in revenue.
Amelia Parsons, UK Head of Supply, ShowHeroes
From a video perspective, it’s essential that digital publishers focus on relevance.
Users engage longer with videos that align with the page context, resulting in a substantial 5x* increase in view-through rates.
By focusing on videos tailored to the article page, publishers ensure their content delivers maximum returns through sustained viewer engagement and will keep users on the page longer.
*measured across 50M video plays
Alex Powell, CEO & Co-Founder, Pixels AI
Now there is so much content available to the reader, it is imperative that output from a publisher is relevant, interesting and engaging. By accessing audience data at scale, publishers can understand the types of content their readers are interested in, or over indexing on, and make informative decisions on what content to create. Many technologies can help with this workflow, enabling editorial teams to drive additional value for their readership, whilst having a positive knock-on effect to advertising and subscription revenues.
George Paton-Williams, Senior Marketing Manager, mediarithmics
When it comes to sponsored content, ‘stickiness’ on its own is not an end goal, but stickiness that leads to a better brand result is. In the same way that advertisers can’t rely on the click alone, it is important to know, and to be able to demonstrate, that increased stickiness leads to improved brand perceptions. This is why we have built in different levels of exposure to the sponsored content into our brand lift calculations. We want to know if someone exposed for twice as long, has a better perception of the brand, or feel more likely to take positive action towards it. Ultimately it is important for publishers to be able to both demonstrate the stickiness of their sponsored content and measure the results that this stickiness will deliver, with robust, data-led evidence to inform future planning.
Sean Adams, Global Insight Director & Partner, Brand Metrics
From a creative ad tech point of view, boosting stickiness of content to get max return requires some consideration for the quality and ideally the beauty of the ads appearing alongside or within it. Users need relevant, engaging and most importantly, decent quality creative if we expect them to stay engaged with content and help deliver a sustainable return. A positive experience means they'll be more likely to organically encourage others to look at it. Then everyone wins.
Martin Pavey, CEO, IVO
Make the Ad experience as sticky and engaging as the content is - if a video is too loud, if a MPU takes 5 secs to load etc, this makes for a potentially negative user experience alongside potential user complaints.
Audiences require the best possible experience, therefore a reliable and consistent QA process that streamlines all aspects of campaign operations to minimise costs and maximise profits is key.
Christian Jones, Head of International Sales, Advalidation (Peach)
In the current digital media environment, where consumer attention is highly fragmented, publishers are increasingly turning to innovative and engaging ad formats such as outstream video.
Outstream video ads represent a significant opportunity for publishers to create additional revenue streams while enhancing the overall experience for consumers. These ads are designed to be non-intrusive and engaging, making them ideal for various placements across a publisher's website. The high-quality viewing experiences make outstream video ads a key strategy for publishers aiming to balance monetization with a positive, non-disruptive consumer experience.
Andrew Heald, Regional Team Lead, Publisher Development, Index Exchange