IDG UK uses performance data, proven strategies for new French and Spanish B2C sites
For the past year, IDG UK’s editorial team has been using its experience with data-driven content strategy to launch French and Spanish-language consumer sites from its London office. Tech Advisor France, PCWorld Spain and Macworld Spain have been growing rapidly, offering inventory for IDG Global Solutions and delivering media, third-party and ecommerce revenue.
The initiative began when the team recognized similarities between top-performing content for the IDGC’s consumer publications in the U.K., the U.S,. Germany and Sweden. At last count all four business units saw seven of their top 10 stories — measured for revenue and audience — serving the same audience needs.
“This performance data is nice to have when shared between those four teams, as it allows us to understand where we haven’t created a story that is likely to be a winner,” said IDG U.K. & U.S. Editorial Director Matt Egan. “But it’s game-changing when we can use it to break into new markets. It’s reasonable to presume that what matters to folks in four markets will matter to people elsewhere.”
Soon thereafter, Egan and IDG U.S. & U.K. Publishing Director Simon Jary set out to launch a French-language version of IDG U.K.’s Tech Advisor site, which targets buyers of all experience levels across the whole range of consumer technology. TechAdvisor.fr has a site code that is a clone of TechAdvisor.co.uk, so that Online Development Manager Adrian Black and the U.K. development team could build it from an idea to a live site in just three weeks.
U.K. B2C Group Editor Marie Black worked with Ecommerce Editor Ashleigh Macro to identify the 100 most valuable pages in terms of advertising and Ecommerce revenue across Tech Advisor U.K. and Macworld U.K. Then the team hired two talented French-speaking, U.K.-based editors who were new to this type of project — Caroline Vanier and Marie-Laure Calcar — and set them to work culturally translating those pages.
Their goal is not straight language translation, but understanding what need each story serves, and writing the best possible version of that story for the local market. A good example would be an article titled “Best mobile network.” A translation of U.K. or U.S. network information would be useless for a reader in France or Belgium, but the structure and underlying utility of the story would be the same.
The results have been startling, Egan noted. Since launching with zero users in June 2017, TechAdvisor.fr reached 650,000 users by April 2018. That gain happened without any marketing or paid referrals; 90% of all page views come directly from organic search.
“More importantly, because the model is to publish only stories that the wider team knows resonate in other territories and have transactional value, the ecommerce yield per visit is higher than our more established sites,” he said. “There is no wasted effort.”
“’Think global, act local’ is not a new thought, but it’s relevant to all aspects of IDG’s business,” Egan added. “As part of the OneIDG drive to transform our business, we need to harness global resources and expertise in order to deliver world-class local and regional products. We don’t need to relearn everything in every business unit, and by sharing our unique audience data we can find the fast track to success. Engaging with an audience online is as much about language as it is location. Moreover, we have readers of our English-language sites in every country of the world, so providing relevant information in the correct language is good reader service. “TechAdvisor.fr should deliver a profit in the next two months,” Jary said. “We knew it would take some months to grow an audience from scratch, but we knew that when we did gain momentum the revenue would be there.”
“The next steps are to add more people to the team, build out a marketing and PR presence in France so that direct advertising becomes possible, and move to using third-party data sources such as SimilarWeb and Sistrix that tell us about traffic on other peoples’ sites to grow traffic beyond the terms we already know. The latter is important because it will give IDGC another source of information to help us grow the U.K., U.S., German and Swedish consumer titles.”
Having proven the model with the French site, the next project has to been to extend the experiment to take in the Spanish language. “IDG Spain has long had a very strong enterprise business in both the events and media space. But with strong competition from Latin America and limited resources, consumer has proven a much tougher nut to crack,” Egan said. “As one of the world’s biggest languages, Spanish represents a huge opportunity for IDG.”
“Our goal was to take advantage of the great know-how IDG U.K. has in this area and massively increase the traffic on these sites — and it’s happening,” Pastor said. “The objective is to have the B2C sites less dependent on traditional CPM advertising. The aim is to have enough traffic to make it profitable mainly through third-party, affiliate and programmatic revenue streams, with display advertising as a supplement. And, working with Simon and Matt has been a real pleasure. Their expertise here is formidable, and they are tremendous leaders.”
“It is very early days, but we are limited only by our ambition,” Egan said. “As we move to a single CMS, it should be possible to launch into new languages and regions without having to set up a bricks and mortar business. Wherever we have talent and expertise, we have a basis for launch. Wherever we can build audience, we have a business. We continue to work closely with colleagues around the world, and there is no reason why the next new language launch couldn’t be based in Stockholm, Munich or San Francisco.”
“While IDG has a wide spread of B2B sites across the world, we had fallen behind on the consumer side,” said Jary. “We aim to correct that, and increase reach and revenue wherever we find it — being both agile and efficient in our expansion plans.”
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