After several years of working in the media production business on daily, weekly and monthly periodicals, Awi, a publication company based in Dubai decided to launch its online division: 7awi, with the purpose of taking some of its publications to the digital world. "Awi realized that 'online' is the future", says Managing Director Andy Abbar.
The popular publisher, which manages the publication
of popular titles Waseet, Gala, Layalina, TopGear, marie claire (in
the Middle East), Fortune, and Baladna, decided to take Layalina
online to expand its reach.
Its online portal, which went live in late November last year, features the magazine's iconic celebrity, fashion, and entertainment content in an interactive setting. A goal is also to build the largest data base of celebrities in Arabic, including athletes, singers, actors, explains Abbar.
Over the past two months, the site's popularity has exploded; it now boasts half a million unique visits and 1.7 million page views total, with over 330,000 likes on Facebook. This puts it on track to easily surpass competitor Nawa3em, which grew to over 1 million unique visitors within its first year. Nawa3em still ranks much higher globally, according to analytics site Alexa, but this January, Layalina's traffic began exceeding its rival's.
When asked about the secrets to their success, Nawa3em publisher 2Pure said that exclusive, high-quality content with an interactive, shareable approach was crucial. Here's 7awi's take on what will help them succeed in the segment:
- A scalable platform like Drupal and
hosting their content on Amazon allows them to have agility.
- SEO. They ensure that titles in menu bars
are data driven, by studying the spelling that Arabic users use
most often on search engines.
- Leveraging offline content, optimizing it
for the web, and having the support of the magazine's editorial
team when it comes to events and pictures is a huge help for
- Catering to the Arabic web
user. Entertainment and celebrities news have proved
to be among the top content Arabic online users look for, and
Layalina hits that sweet spot, while covering several markets,
including Kuwait, Beirut and Dubai. The site plans to cover Egypt,
KSA, Qatar and Bahrain by the end of January.
- Focusing on user
experience. "In three clicks you can get to any
article you want, and each menu doesn't contain more than seven
items," explains Abbar. Layalina also tries to enhance retention by
offering readers horoscopes and the option to follow celebrity
news. "A new feature will be added soon, allowing the user to 'pin'
stories and share them," says Abbar.
- Variation. The site publishes an average
of ten original articles per day, which often feature photos, and
regularly offers video and audio features.
- Catering to both a female and
male audience. One thing that differentiates Layalina
from the 2Pure publications is that Layalina targets both a female
and male audience, says Abbar. 2Pure, on the other hand, has opted
to specialize, focusing Nawa3em and Gheir on women, Ra2ed on men,
and new site Chabab on youth.
- Building for mobile and tablet. The team plans
to launching mobile and tablet friendly versions soon. "50% of our
traffic comes from mobile," says Abbar.
- A lot of ad real estate. The top of
Layalina features with a huge slider covering the entire width of
the website, that includes ads along with its regular articles and
videos. "We don't draw any borders when it comes to content," adds
- Making women feel independent and empowered. It may sound counterintuitive for a beauty and fashion site, but Layalina aims to stand out in the market by offering women a unique perspective.
Other ingredients to their success may simply involve
their team- Abbar gave the impression that his team is extremely
organized, experienced, and punctual with deadlines. The site
reflects an attention to detail, as it looks very neat, simple and
straight to the point.
Although I'm not a big fan of the offline magazine, and don't love the online content, its layout, colors and photos sustained my attention for a good five minutes! It's this ability to draw readers in that will help make the site a success.