As Village Media continues to expand our network of local news and information websites - adding three new owned and operated sites in the last year and two new sites planned for spring - audience connection and growth remains a top priority.
We are continuously exploring new ways to engage local readers and increase our loyal audience base. Email has proven to be an invaluable channel to connect with readers, a large majority of whom are, or inevitably become, brand lovers (visiting our local news sites a minimum of 15 times per month).
In 2020, we moved forward intentionally and with clear goals to implement a number of audience growth strategies. We believe in a balanced approach to audience acquisition, which combines on-site strategies with off-site email and social media acquisition campaigns.
In the communities we serve, Facebook far outperforms other social media for referral traffic, so we concentrate our efforts on that platform specifically. We use Facebook to run campaigns with two goals in mind: signing up new email subscribers and increasing Facebook page followers.
A turning point in the efficiency of our acquisition efforts in 2020 can be attributed to the launch of several new campaigns with the team at Social News Desk (SND).
Social News Desk is a social media solutions company for news organizations, which has pioneered an innovative way for media companies to use their existing, high-quality content to acquire new audiences through Facebook advertising.
The company’s approach is to automatically build data-driven ads that leverage existing news content, and unlike other content-to-conversion ad technology, Social News Desk is using a sophisticated set of signals and an extensive database of content to automatically generate the best-performing ads.
Social News Desk worked with us to use our top news stories, ranging from breaking news to COVID-19 developments and responses to feature stories, to compel people across our network of communities to sign-up for email newsletters. In real-time, SND’s Dynamic News Ads technology is able to predict which Village Media stories will drive the most sign-ups. SND then dynamically compiles that data and creates Facebook Lead Generation ads which automatically update as the news and the audience changes.
SND’s solution allowed us to create always-on and up-to-date ads at scale across all of our local sites. They leveraged Facebook’s Lead Generation forms to capture users’ names and emails from their Facebook information, dramatically increasing sign-ups.
Since ramping up acquisition efforts with Social News Desk in September 2020, Village Media has generated more than 76,426 new email sign-ups at an average cost of $0.81 per sign-up. The results have been substantially better than any other sign-up methods Village Media has tried in the past.
The results to date have demonstrated the potential to significantly impact the entire business model and we plan on continuing with these robust acquisition campaigns to build on our subscriber base in the communities we serve and further deepen our connection with our local audiences.