We’ve really only just scratched the surface with what we can achieve by building this really solid foundation with video. It’s a very exciting time and we want to match our ambitions by increasing our resources to make the most of this opportunity.
The British HELLO! magazine originally launched in 1988 with a weekly print edition covering celebrity news, human-interest stories, and reporting on the royal family, and expanded digitally to hellomagazine.com in 2001. Today, their website gets over 58 million unique visits per month with an actively engaged audience and growing.
As a lifestyle news site with a uniquely British perspective, the magazine covers celebrity style and lifestyle with countless exclusive coverage (including everything from wedding and baby announcements to film/TV updates, beauty launches, and lifestyle advice). As their website traffic has continued to grow, HELLO! needed a solution to increase ad revenue.
Similar to all traditional magazine publishers looking to go digital, their strategy was to “try and do as much with as few resources as we have,” HELLO!’s Head of Channel’s Christian Anderson-Ramshall said. In a survey of 221 companies conducted by JW Player in January 2021, over 42% of publishers said “doing more with less was a top business challenge.
HELLO! magazine instituted a video-first strategy, knowing that video provided one of the better opportunities for both readership growth and programmatic revenue. With a goal to include a video in every single piece of content created, HELLO! needed an online video player that could fully support their ambitious viewership and content goals.
“2020 has been a bit of a double-edged sword in terms of the pandemic,” Anderson-Ramshall said. “What we’ve seen is a rise in UGC content, [but it’s actually] been very favorable for us. We’ve managed to get celebrities to record their own videos like they would for Instagram or their own social media. So what we’ve seen is actually more content—easily made but with a drastic reduction in production costs for us.”
With the ability to quickly create more content (and with a video for every published article), HELLO! uses their video viewership as a key driver for revenue. “Digital video for us is number one a key driver for programmatic revenue. A combination of higher views, obviously, that means higher revenue for us,” Anderson-Ramshall said.
HELLO!’s video-first content strategy has enabled them to grow viewership and revenue rapidly, even during the pandemic. And with their clever resourcing, they’ve found creative solutions to optimize their video-first strategy.
When devising a video-first content strategy to increase views, engagement, and revenue, HELLO! started first with a deep audit of their existing video strategy. “Editors were putting videos way down on the page. We used to have a hero video slot that used to work, but then discovered by looking at the data that it didn’t actually work anymore. The scrolling users had to do was just too much and the drop-off rate was massive,” Anderson-Ramshall said.
By utilizing the JW Player analytics dashboard and looking up stats daily with custom reports as well as real-time reporting, HELLO! optimized their video placement for increased revenue. “We use JW Player reporting every single day. We use real-time to see which stories are doing well, and then use that to determine where to drive traffic. We’re kind of reliant on the JW Player dashboard and analytics. It’s my daily routine: look at the stats and send them around to the rest of the team. See what works, and what hasn’t,” Anderson-Ramshall said. While using JW Player analytics to understand plays and views, with a video-first strategy, HELLO! regularly dives deeper by optimizing their video metadata which
not only helps with their search traffic (their largest driver of website traffic), but also strengthens their video library. “It’s been really useful to also see how the metadata is working on some videos. It’s helped us to really strengthen the titles, some of which might work on the actual magazine, but when translated to video it doesn’t quite match up,” Anderson-Ramshall said. “It really helps us in terms of driving more viewership.”
HELLO! has found that an engaged audience, consuming short, snackable, and completely relevant video content, offers them the most potential for increased viewership and ad revenue. Nearly a third of their audience watches 100% of their video content—marking a highly engaged audience, one that returns to their brand time and time again. By publishing click-to-play videos to a highly engaged audience (over 40.1% of HELLO!’s plays are watched to at least 75%), the pre-roll ad in particular is a very appealing prospect to advertisers.
In 2019, HELLO! averaged 1.5 million plays per quarter (that’s about 500,000 plays per month), but in 2020 that jumped to approximately 8.4 million plays in the same quarter. And since now optimizing their video-first content strategy, HELLO! magazine received 18,834,457 plays in 2021 Q1 (over 6 million plays per month). With an increase of 1,1457.61% increase in plays since 2019, and a 123.11% increase since 2020, HELLO! has found video to be an extremely effective method at growing their brand visibility, ad revenue, and reach.