One of the overarching developments we have seen for 2020 is the acceleration of digital. This is something that has been mentioned frequently in our Embracing Change series of webinars, and for good reason. The human attention span is now down to just eight seconds – one second lower than that of a goldfish – and our appetite for visual media continues to grow.
As a result, many brands and publishers may be considering how to make their content more visually appealing or how to showcase their latest marketing campaign in a snappy, dynamic digital format that appeals to today’s consumers. At Rhapsody we have the perfect solution: a platform that is responsive, affordable, quick-to-market and proven to increase sales and engagement. How do we know? Because we have used it to launch two digital magazine titles and a host of brand experiences in the last six months and our clients have been bowled over by the results.
For this article, we will focus specifically on the digital magazine launches and how these delivered success to our clients. The first client to benefit from the platform was Global Blue. For over a decade, the company had been publishing its popular fashion and travel title SHOP Magazine in-house. James Morris, former Chief Marketing Officer of Global Blue, who led the team producing SHOP Magazine explains, ‘We were always looking for efficiencies and new opportunities, which we found with Rhapsody.’
Initially, Rhapsody was instructed by Global Blue to consult with the SHOP Magazine team and analyse its workflows, processes and people to identify where time and cost savings could be made. ‘The discovery phase and investigation into our operations culminated in us moving the SHOP publishing operations to Rhapsody. This realised a number of benefits for Global Blue, by having a company with the skills, resources and capabilities to improve the offer of its international travel-focused consumer magazine and achieve significant cost efficiencies, both in the production process itself and through its parent company Walstead, who have print operations across Europe.’
Eight members of the SHOP team moved over to Rhapsody and they were supported by Rhapsody’s global production hubs and impressive workflow technology. ‘We had historically printed all SHOP publications in the traditional way, supported by a basic page turning digital version which offered some further circulation opportunities,’ Morris continues. ‘But the solution was very flat and not at all interactive, with very little reader engagement.’
The team were midway through production on the spring/summer 2020 magazines when the UK went into lockdown and international travel was suddenly off the table. ‘We had to find a way to pivot the SHOP Magazine print business as, with COVID, no hotels were distributing print publications. With Rhapsody we took the content that was produced for the SHOP London Luxury and Style print editions, optimised it, built a wireframe and template for it, and put together the digital magazine in the Ceros platform. We allowed for several rounds of optimisation and adjustment, in addition to engaging all advertisers to submit new digital advertising material. I couldn’t have been happier with the result.’
Ceros is Rhapsody’s secret weapon. An agile, versatile platform that allows brands and publishers alike to take users on a journey. Here are some of the reasons why a Ceros experience can add value to your business:
You can plan how the user navigates and interacts with the content in your experience/microsite. In addition, the action of clicking through an experience gets the user to engage more than they would with a static PDF or a page turner. You’re offering them the digital equivalent of a ‘choose your own adventure’, where they are in control of what they click next. Obviously there can be a very clear direction in which you lead people, based on certain calls to action, but you could also be a little more adventurous, too. At the end of the day, people want to engage with brands, to connect with them and enter into a dialogue. To have an experience. Ceros allows brands to start that conversation and build upon those relationships.
In light of the need to appeal to users who love visuals and have a short attention span, you can add movement to your experience in the form of graphics, videos, gifs, infographics, animations and so on. The experience can be as big or small as you want. One of our designers described working with Ceros as being able to create ‘a visual feast’ and we have done this in house with passion projects like the 50 Years of Le Mans 24experience. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the year that Porsche won this nerve-testing race, the experience had everything from vintage footage to archive photography and an exclusive interview with the driver, Richard Attwood. You can give these Ceros experiences an editorial feel and use them to tell a story, which enhances traditional journalism and truly brings a piece to life.
It’s very quick to put a Ceros experience together. No back-end development is required so you can produce a microsite or digital magazine in days and weeks rather than in more than three months. Compared to building a normal website, this is much more cost-effective as a result.
- Update it any time
With a print publication you are limited to a deadline. Whereas, on a digital publication you can change things up. You can take down articles and replace them with others. You can make changes at any point, unlike with ‘locked in’ print content.
- Flexible and versatile
There’s no set format or size for your experience and no set template. On Ceros, content can be any length, which gives you space to be creative and try out more things as a result. Ceros digital experiences can also be used in a variety of ways – as a presentation tool/microsite/website/landing page/editorial platform or to promote product launch. It’s ideal for advertorial or partnership campaign content and can be used as part of social media strategies or event marketing activations.
- Make use of our expertise
Our team are experts in working with Ceros. They’re used to turning things around quickly with precision, so we can better advise you about what works and what doesn’t from our intimate experience of working with the platform.
In addition, because Ceros encourages the user to engage with the experience, this engagement can be tracked using analytics. The content that gets the most engagement can help to inform future content, articles, themes and so on. Ceros analytics also helps to deliver key figures to your advertisers and provide them with hard data on ROI. You can see what has been clicked on and how many times using the dashboard feature on the platform, so not only is it flexible and dynamic but you can measure how well it works.
But don’t just take our word for it, here’s what James Morris has to say: ‘The production phase was super efficient. We had been looking for an effective, interactive and engaging way to deliver our magazines for a while and found the perfect solution with Ceros. It offers the ideal platform for publishers to efficiently create digital experiences – especially when coupled with the design, content creation, translation and production services offered by Rhapsody. The digital experience offers a wealth of opportunities, whether in the form of new advertising revenue opportunities, or by improving reader engagement which is trackable and reportable to promote other products and services (subscriptions or member offers, say) and ultimately data capture.’
Morris was so impressed that when he launched a new business in 2020, he knew Ceros would be the perfect digital partner. Food.social is a holistic cooking community that was initially set up to offer gourmet experiences to foodies while abroad, but during the pandemic the brand was forced to pivot the business towards the home, offering livestream cooking classes and a platform for chefs to connect with willing students. The first issue of the recently launched food.social magazine was built in Ceros and it won the start-up a hefty advertising investment from a major player in the cookware market.
‘Rhapsody’s ability to take static content and animate it was great. It added the perfect visual hook to keep readers interested. The platform’s capability to present brand videos and interactive advertising material offers an opportunity to better engage with brands and demonstrates an ability to evolve and innovate.’