Posted November 13, 2014, by Jim Sturdivant, mediaShepherd
Bonnier Corp.’s Popular Science has long been a hub of innovation for a company seeking to unlock the secrets of reaching and monetizing a younger-male reader base (the brand made headlines last year for a print redesign and decision to ban all comments from posts). A website relaunch this month seeks to improve user experience and capitalize on data gathered about site-visitor behavior.
PopSci.com will move further in a responsive direction, utilizing infinite scroll, large photographs and easy-to-read text to better cater to a mobile and social audience in addition to the more traditional one.
The site officially relaunches Nov. 18, but a sneak-peek at the look and feel of the new format can be seen in the Best of What’s New feature currently on the site.
We asked Gregory Gatto, publisher of Bonnier’s Men’s Group, for his insights into what PopSci plans for its audience, how data is driving these initiatives and what makes PopSci different from other sites in the Sci/Tech news space.
mediaShepherd: What is user data telling you about missed or underutilized opportunities in the Sci/Tech news space?
Gregory Gatto: Science and technology today is popular—it’s no longer niche or specialty interest. The data is everywhere: More people on Earth own a cell phone than a toilet. You have world-famous celebrities like Neil Tyson and Bill Nye sweeping top TV shows. Outlets like The New Yorker, The Daily Beast, Quartz, and many more are launching science and technology verticals. This fact was at the core of our magazine redesign last year, and the overhauling of PopularScience.com will take it to heart as well.
mS: What percentage of the Popular Science website visitors are coming through mobile? How does that compare to a year ago?
GG: In the past 12 months, about 35% of all visits to PopularScience.com were mobile— phones, tablets, and other on-the-go devices. In the year before that, 25% of all visits were mobile. That’s a big increase, and it’s only trending upward.
mS: What does the data tell you about readership trends?
GG: First and foremost, readers are going mobile. Their devices are getting more powerful, capable and efficient by the day, and so we’re strongly catering to them, without sacrificing a sleek and impactful desktop experience. The new PopularScience.com will have the best of both worlds.
Our readers are very active on social media, as evidenced by our following of approximately 7 million across Facebook, Twitter, and other services. It’s worth mentioning most of that growth has occurred in the past 18 months.
mS: I understand that the relaunch aims to set you apart from other sites in science media. What is it about your readership that makes them different? What are they looking for in a magazine?
GG: PopularScience.com has a high percentage of home page visitors (about 15% of all visits), and our data show most of these folks come to the homepage to scan news. Social is an even greater share of traffic, so our users like Facebook, Twitter, and other social newsfeed-style sites for the same reason: They want to get the latest on what’s new and what’s next in an approachable and informative format. We’re going to cater to these audiences in a significant way across the entire site, and we’re going to help readers find more of the kind of content they’re interested in, no matter how they get to us.
mS: Do you see any new content opportunities arising from the relaunch? Will there be a greater emphasis on video, for instance?
GG: We’re moving into a platform that’s designed to be iterated on what is essentially a moment’s notice, so the possibilities are essentially limitless. Video is definitely something we’ve thought long and hard about, and we have a few series in the works. Overall, we’re emphasizing rich, digitally native feature content, which we’ve seen great demand for in addition to news.
mS: What new marketing/monetization opportunities are built in to the upgrade?
GG: Media consumption habits are changing and both our readers and advertisers expect more. Our audience wants a better content experience for the user, tailored to their needs (across devices). Our advertisers want engagement, viewability and accountability. We have designed a digital environment that delivers both.