A look back at the last decade of ezine evolution

Originally published at AW360 by Mario Peshev.

Ezines, formerly known as “ezines” or “webzines”, have entered the digital space since the 1990s, gaining popularity over the next two decades.

With the growing popularity of the Internet and the increased use of personal computers, consumers have gradually shifted to consuming information online. Traditional print magazines needed to consider the digital presence of their brands to stay relevant and retain their loyal offline audience.

Fast forward to 2018, the web looks and functions differently. Social media is a major source of traffic alongside organic search, mobile sites are the norm, ad revenue is replaced by memberships and strategic partnerships. Here’s how the web has changed over the past 10 years.


Desktop computers were the primary source of Internet content consumption. As laptops quickly gained traction, average speeds of 3.6 Mbps in most offices and corporate homes were still prohibitive for mobile consumers (in addition to the poor user experience on mobile devices). nowadays).

AARP was a leading online player among mainstream magazines, with National Geographic, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, and People gathering a large audience in the millions of monthly users. Traditional magazines have moved from launching separate online versions to complement their print editions, to publishing their content online, as paid online subscriptions or publishing old prints for free.

Facebook was launched in 2006, and some brands started promoting via social media in 2008 and 2009. Language and geographic targeting were announced soon after, helping publishers reach their ideal audience online.

2009 2010

A few major events marked the start of a new decade in late 2009 and early 2010.

The launch of iPads in 2010 shook the reign of desktop computing for good. While smartphones slowly made their way into the digital bandwidth space, tablets were the natural continuation of mobile devices with sufficient screen size for actual work.

The notorious Apple brand and its loyal followers helped launch the first two issues of the iPad, Time in April and Wired in June 2010.

And do you remember Flash? Around the same time, the Digital Magazine Awards were won by I fly Magazine, an interactive landing page with animations and floating buttons running on the proprietary Adobe Flash framework.

And iPhones never supported Flash. But mobile traffic was only 1% in 2010, and Flash was both an anti-hate toolkit and one of the few popular ways to build interactive online apps. And the world was divided into pure web versions of magazines and an iPad-specific app for each brand.

2011 – 2012

Monetizing content online was difficult, especially when hiring professional journalists and writers. The New York Times announced its premium subscription in 2011, along with a wave of other media launching paid plans or freemium reads.

Jakob Nielsen’s 2011 Website and Tablet Usability Report describes several issues with iPad editions of ezines creating specific apps for the iPad:

  • Touch areas in many applications are too narrow
  • There is a high rate of incorrect activity due to unwarranted contact
  • Discovery is not intuitive due to bad UX
  • Annoying writing on iPads vs. computers affects the recording process

Suddenly, the growth in the use of tablets was called into question. Poor UX resulted in decreased adoption, and insufficient writing capabilities made the signup process (and some forms of payment) outdated or simply cumbersome.

2013 – 2015

So, Mashable heralded 2013 as the Year of Responsive Design, strongly suggesting that all websites can (and should) become mobile-friendly with little to no effort thanks to technological advancements in recent years.

The ad-centric model has been hugely successful and has taken over the world, but faces further oppression from ad blockers. AdBlock was first introduced in 2009, it was not yet as popular and Internet Explorer was still a dominant browser for a few years, but Google Chrome took over and became the leading browser supplementing the search engine n ° 1 with a powerful collection of free browsers. applications (extensions).

Publishers continued to mix advertising content with premium subscriptions or donations, sometimes with additional reading and private articles available only to premium users. Fortunately, hosting fees have become more affordable over the past few years, making scalability a slightly cheaper process. The spike in guest blogging for SEO and personal branding reasons was also a secret trick to posting more high-quality content inexpensively, if not for free, from external contributors, a concept that was barely touched upon at the moment. during the first years.

2016 – 2018

Compared to 2010, the trends have clearly shifted into a new area.

While Internet Explorer accounted for 60% of all traffic in 2010, it struggled to maintain 10% market share for a long time. The use of mobile traffic from 1% in 2010 increased to 40% in 2016, and TechCrunch reported in November that mobile traffic exceeded desktop traffic for the first time.

Google Chrome is replacing Internet Explorer and making up 66% of all browsers in the past few months. Research in 2016 reported over 600 million devices using Adblock, many of which are also mobile. Magazines that rely solely on ad revenue struggle to maintain the same revenue and grow slowly with stable traffic but wider adoption of different ad blockers.

Medium, one of the largest contributing publishing networks, announced a paid membership model in early 2017.

The 2016 US presidential election brought a mix of uncertainty to social media like Facebook, followed by a series of crisis PR that questioned the authority and privacy of content and users hosted on the social media. . Coincidentally, Facebook is on the wrong foot with its trial experiments to launch a separate “Explore” feed for pages users like, reducing traffic to groups and pages with loyal followers.

This has led to a strategic shift towards membership mixed with other creative advertising techniques. the New York Times announced more than 3.5 million subscribers, with 300,000 added in early 2017. After Trump’s election, other media sources like The Washington Post and The New Yorker all reported a positive influx of subscribers.

Uncertainties in social media exposure (and the reliability of fan pages) led to the discovery of new advertising opportunities. Publishers who rely solely on Facebook have looked at other networks that perform better, including Snapchat, the new advertising platform, and the linking features of Quora, Taboola or Outbrain. Google’s DFP capabilities were pushed to the limit, leading to a renowned update called Google Ad Manager.

Due to the high fees on the advertising front, header auctions have grown in popularity, with programmatic solutions such as RTK.io increasingly adopted and hundreds of billions of ad impressions per month in no more DFP or self-hosted advertising platforms. This has led to additional opportunities for sticky ad units and membership, the implementation of flexible layouts for galleries and infinite scrolling pages, and other UX improvements complemented by powerful layout mechanics. hidden. This goes for both certain traffic arbitrage strategies and the proven revenue generation for SEO optimized publishers with a lot of organic or derivative email traffic.

And after?

The dynamic evolution of publishing in recent years has brought technological, creative and advertising innovation to major digital publishers.

  • The growth of machine learning now enables AI-powered opportunities for related posts, personalized newsletters, and personalized user feeds.
  • Voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home, along with Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, and Bixby, have dramatically increased voice search traffic, reinforcing the importance of featured snippets in Google and content optimized for audio consumption.
  • YouTube has taken the second place among the largest search engines, increasing the importance of video content in posts, video slideshows, and video content first transcribed in post-factum.

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