Oliver Lewis, director of digital strategy and partnerships at News UK, which publishes The Sun, addressed this topic at the recent Technology for Marketing conference in London.
He explained that adjusting to a world where the Facebook experience in large part determines user expectations means publishers switching from tile-based navigation to a scrolling content feed that never ends. (For more, read WARC’s report: How The Sun has adapted to Facebook changing the publishing landscape.)
It also means more native advertising and branded content – a critical point for a news brand like The Sun which, following the lifting of its paywall quite recently, relies on advertising revenue.
Interestingly for a title that has long prided itself on its punning headlines, The Sun has discovered that the print versions don’t necessarily work the same way in a digital environment where they are seen in many more places.
Lewis estimates that the title has less than 2.5 seconds in which to grab attention before people scroll on, which means headline writing for social media content is an entirely different art to writing headlines for SEO.
“We're having to learn fast and analyse our own data in order to optimise the headline, not just for our own platform but other platforms too,” Lewis said. “These aren't endemic audiences to The Sun.”
So it frequently employs different headlines for different audiences and platforms for the same piece of content, and uses A/B testing during campaigns to test the success of different headlines for all branded and native content.
Brand voice and the relationship The Sun has with its audience are important too, and this is especially the case with branded content, where it works hard to make sure sponsored content headlines are written in a way that reflects The Sun's existing voice and what it knows the audience likes.
“It's about talking to them in the way in which they're used to being talked to,” Lewis said.
Sourced from WARC