How Diversification Drives Publishers’ Audience

Every strong corporation knows a good business model requires diversification.  At its core, however, diversification requires a strong foundation from which to build. Companies like Google built a foundation off their search engine and then diversified with other services. Smaller publishers diversify across devices and focus on a single strong foundation as they continue to add properties. Either way, the approach of these publishers is what drives their audience reach and influence.

A Strong Foundation: Flagship Properties

A strong foundation is important and many publishers build theirs on their flagship property’s core product or service. These flagship properties are so important in fact, that if publishers like Google or Yahoo only owned their flagship product, they would still reach most of their users monthly without more diverse portfolios. Yahoo, for example, reached more than 200 million users monthly through their flagship property alone in May 2015.

However, flagship properties are not the only factor driving audience reach. Although on a monthly basis, the incremental reach of non-flagship properties is quite limited, the picture changes radically when looking at the daily reach of the publishers. As it can be expected, the daily reach is in general lower than the monthly reach, but the drop is not the same for all publishers. Google, for example, reaches the majority of its monthly users daily (86%), but Amazon only reaches a mere 37% of their monthly users on a daily basis. This is due to the nature of the property: while we might be checking our Gmail accounts and accessing our Facebook pages daily, we might be doing a purchase on Amazon only once a week or once a month. The more diverse offering a publisher has, the higher the daily audience reach is. Successful publishers understand that variety drives audience reach.

Diversification by Design: Devices

When considering audience reach, it is important to look at the publishers behind the properties. Publishers by design know part of diversification means reaching their audience across a wide range of devices. Google alone has the highest reach across any device at 98 percent and leads the pack in smartphone use as of May 2015 — a fact that adds to their dominance in the marketplace. Facebook has the second largest reach for devices overall at 93 percent.

Yahoo is not far behind Google and Facebook in terms of numbers across all devices.  Yahoo also makes their mark with over 200 million users monthly as of May 2015.  Amazon, which built itself out of an e-commerce platform, has been able to gain a significant online audience in terms of net reach.  All of these publishers clearly understand that device diversification drives an audience — and ultimately success — so they need to continue to expand their audience reach through devices as new technology enters the market.

The Center of Attention: Time Spent

While net reach is an important measure of popularity, it is ultimately the time spent with each of the properties, apps, and websites that matters. Time spent with a property gives publishers the possibility to engage with consumers, and serve them content and ads. Facebook’s flagship app alone accounts for more than 76 percent of its users’ spent time across all their apps — a fact likely owed to Facebook flagship’s property’s strong user base and popularity. Alternatively, the time spent with Google’s apps is spread over a much larger set of apps including: Chrome, YouTube, Gmail, and Google Maps, as well as the Google Search app.

By comparison, Yahoo and Twitter cannot compete overall on monthly time spent as they either lack the ownership of apps that are more popular among users or only have limited number of apps in the market. Neither of them should be counted out though; both have loyal users and extensive reach, and will undoubtedly do their best to give the leading properties a run for their money in terms of time spent, too.

Understanding what drives an audience is vital to all publishers as it affects their flagship foundations, and their reach and time spent by users. These dynamics are sometimes complex in how they relate and fluctuate. However, audiences are driven by diversification and devices. Publishers who want to drive audiences to their properties need to continue to strengthen their bottom lines while expanding across multiple device types and additional properties. In doing so, they will add value not only to their businesses, but add value to their audiences by giving them what they want — choices.