American Banker embraces 'digital-first' model

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Last month SourceMedia debuted a new platform for American Banker, its flagship publication. The changes are designed to more closely align the brand's website, daily print publication and tablet edition. The American Banker brand will soon release an iPad application, with an Android-based tablet application planned for fall. Digital Directions spoke with David Longobardi, exec VP-chief content officer at SourceMedia, about the new platform. Digital Directions: What sparked the new platform and how will it enhance the brand overall? David Longobardi: The new platform strengthens a SourceMedia flagship and consolidates our banking group's full menu of products and services around its strongest brand: American Banker. It accelerates our digital transformation while positioning us for growth across all the revenue lines that feed American Banker: advertising and circulation, print and digital, media and live events. We'll do that by building audience engagement and increasing the size of the audience, by adding value to our content set and by creating a more powerful showcase for our advertisers. A key component of this is shifting our content strategy to a digital-first model. This builds a sense of immediacy. We want to get the most important information, opinion and analysis to our audience as soon as possible and in the most compelling manner possible. DD: What were the challenges, from a technology perspective, in developing the platform? Longobardi: Most of our tech challenges were really design challenges. is a hybrid free/paid site, so the challenge was twofold: Improve the value behind the wall and add more content outside the wall. The new design was tied to changes in how we create and publish content and to the ad opportunities we support. Engagement was key. We opened the site up visually. Instead of employing a basic list of departments in the left rail, we built the site around a set of topical communities that reflect issues of high importance to our audience. Knowing that many users arrive not at our home page but at an article page, we added what we call "portable home pages'—drop-downs that show a full sample of all the content in a category. We built new blogs, video and slideshow platforms. We integrated social media hooks and opportunities for user comment. We created opportunities for users to engage in data. DD: How will the new platform help enhance the brand's top and bottom lines? Longobardi: By putting more content outside the wall, we will increase the number of visitors, which increases subscription trials and, in turn, the number of paid subscriptions. The larger audience also increases ad inventory and advertiser ROI. And by making the content more compelling and engaging, we improve renewal rates. The effort sends a strong message: The American Banker product family now works as an ensemble. We eliminated overlaps in editorial mission and redundant brands. Print products—two monthlies (Bank Technology News and American Banker Magazine, formerly known as U.S. Banker) and a daily (American Banker)—have been redesigned and refocused. The website is (now) an integrated destination. This sense of an integrated product line sends a strong message to marketing services clients to whom we're looking to sell integrated programs. We're offering advertisers a more engaging and response-oriented environment—new positions and new ways to make a strong impression on our audience.
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