With mobile usage on the rise and more and more people discovering content via social channels, publishers are left with a big question: What do I do with my desktop homepage? Some are even wondering if the homepage is dead.
RebelMouse, a tool that can turn a homepage into a “social frontpage,” is one answer. Its features solve two frequent issues: keeping content fresh and optimizing the homepage for a wide range of devices.
The homepage of GNC (GNC.com), for example, shows what RebelMouse has to offer:
Halfway down GNC’s homepage, posts from its online community are displayed — mostly pins, tweets and instagram posts from GNC social media accounts, but also articles, tweets and other shares from select partners and popular social media commentators. This allows the homepage to automatically update with fresh content, and there are ample controls in place to ensure that the content is brand-safe. The RebelMouse system also helps solve the problem of how to format a website for devices with different screen sizes and browser capabilities, as the RebelMouse code is device agnostic. This eliminates the need for a CMS that can fork, or publish multiple pages or stylesheets for different device types.
RebelMouse also puts publishers in position to focus on reader engagement, such as campaigns that give fans the chance to get their shout-outs or responses posted on the homepage.
As the Wall Street Journal example shows above, the service can also be adapted to specific events, such as New York Fashion Week. The Journal aggregated hashtagged tweets by a specific crop of reporters, and the result was a colorful page filled with dynamic imagery and fun updates. For readers, it was an easy way to keep up on Fashion Week in real time, and for The Journal, it was an easier production process than clipping hundreds of individual Tweets to make a Storify.
On the Paul Oakenfold page, the trance DJ/producer’s latest social media postings have been aggregated below a top navbar and links to his social media profiles. This creates a stream that shows visitors everything he’s posted in a single timeline. It also solves the problem of a splash page seeming too tame, or lame, for a wild, globe-hopping star.
RebelMouse has seen a more than 1000% increase in uniques to its properties across all sites since January. Adopters on the traditional publishing side include The Wall Street Journal, MTV, NBC and others. On the brand publishing side of things, Paul Oakenfold, GNC, and Burger King have given the service a go. The startup’s homepage boasts that some of the biggest names in tech and media use RebelMouse, and Time named it is one of the best websites of 2013.
RebelMouse is also an attractive native advertisement platform, allowing advertisers to place content in-stream on publisher sites. The result is “upwards of triple digit increase in CTR in initial campaigns,” according to Jarrod Dicker, a managing director who joined RebelMouse in August from Time, where he served as the Director of Social, Native and Content Ad Products. According to Dicker, the continuous optimization of ads with better data and targeting “results in engagements far beyond benchmark norms in the online banner world.”
RebelMouse is not perfect, though. For one, the product still feels in-development. On the WSJ Fashion Week page, for example, social media icons appear fuzzy on retina display, and some of the spacing and outlining needs tightening. Customization is also limited; you have to love grid design to love RebelMouse, and as a result, the pages can feel a bit generic.
But the concept of social homepages makes a lot of sense, and so far, brands have been putting RebelMouse to good use. Also encouraging is RebelMouse’s roster of recent hires, which include top performers from The Huffington Post, Time, VaynerMedia, WPP and CNN. That signals new features and ideas on the horizon, and it’s likely brand publishers will continue to gravitate to this fast-growing shop.
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