This is the first part of our expert content series, in which we will highlight valuable advice from key experts in the regional ecosystem.
After working in the Arabic content industry for more than two years now, investing all their efforts to solve various challenges Arabic portals face, Rudolf Jabre and Zoya Sakr of 2Pure for e-publishing have successfully built four platforms targeting different audiences.
Their journey started off in Dubai in 2011 with women’s portal Nawa3em, which attracted one million unique visitors in less than a year. Next they launched ra2ed, a business and lifestyle website for men, followed by Gheir, another women’s platform, and Chababs, which provides content on gaming, music, and technology aimed at Arab youth. The latter three sites followed Nawa3em’s precedent in gaining traction in a short period.
This year, 2Pure is focusing on video content. Just last month, the company launched Online Lifestyle Network (OLN TV), a lifestyle and entertainment platform that streams Arabic video content. The network kicked off the year with a library of 1500 videos aggregated from the four lifestyle portals, and has a dedicated team of 25 editors and producers working on HD quality productions, with the goal of producing 150 videos per month.
Once again the team has nailed the formula for success. OLN TV registered three million video views in one month, and Jabre hopes to reach four million views in March. Unsurprisingly 90% of these views came from the GCC. “We wanted to capitalize on the video streaming trend, and with Saudi being the country with the second-highest rates of people watching videos online, we are sure this is an opportunity for us in producing high quality content,” says Jabre.
Competition is increasing in the region when it comes to Arabic content, and focusing on video can be a key element differentiating 2Pure products from their competitors. Many Arabic portals have a videos category, but none have dedicated a separate network for its video content.
Supermama, an Arabic platform to make life easier for moms launched a video feature last year, but the numbers are nowhere near those of OLN; Supermama registered only 56,000 views in the first three weeks. And Yasmina.com, a subsidiary of of Diwanee, has a category dedicated to tutorial videos, which teach women make up and beauty tips.
Today 2Pure produces not only written content, but also applications and video, as their audience has come to expeve. “Fifty percent of our users stream video versus reading an article,” says Jabre. To better benefit from this trend, 2Pure has established a partnership with Digital Media Services (DMS) as its exclusive media representative to help them monetize content.
During a call with Jabre, he shares the recipe for his secret sauce on how to monetize Arabic content, summarized in the four points below:
- Think digital. Online content has to be
premium and meet readers’ needs in order to generate reach. “Half
of our content ideas comes from the e-marketing team,” he says. The
other half is generated partly from “data mining and understanding
the user mindsets, and the rest is pitched from what is trending,”
- Implement branded content. 2Pure’s
efforts to make money are mostly invested in branded and sponsored
content, but they’re not doing it the old way. Instead of having
blunt PR-esque articles selling a product, a strategy that has
become repellent to readers, the team works on sprinkling products
and brand news throughout the content in general. Jabre describes
this strategy as “creating noise around the brand,” which he thinks
fits with the brand’s needs. “Today brands are not just looking for
ad placement; they want a share of the voice, so we tailor [content
to integrate brands] within the platform.”
This strategy requires more effort from the team in order to understand brand objectives and meet them in the content. “It is important to stay close to the brands, attend their offline events, understand their standards and norms to better integrate them in different types of content like articles, photos, how-to videos and interactive applications,” says Jabre.
- SEO. SEO. SEO. Search Engine Optimization
is still overlooked in the region by many publishers. SEO has to be
the fundamental brief for content producers, who should build on
keywords and tags recommended by the marketing team to create their
content. According to Jabre, editors should create
clusters for each country and check what is trending. In
addition to pushing new users to subscribe to the newsletter and
the page, studying the visitor’s journey, what they’re interested
in, and thinking of ways to bring them back. “We’ve seen more than
20 competitors come in last year but most of them couldn’t compete,
not because their content was not good but they failed to deliver
to the right user,” says Jabre.
- Ensure consistent quality. Quality content is a main challenge for the team. Arabic content platforms face a lot of difficulties in getting good writers. “The solution that worked for us was to nominate ten of our best editors to train the others,” says Jabre. In addition to proper training 2Pure came up with a cycle for content production that helps minimize the risk of bad quality content. After the content is created by the editor, it is checked by the section manager, then the website manager, then the proofreader.
Today 2Pure has a team of 60 editors working on multimedia content for its five platforms, publishing one piece of news every hour for each of the platforms, which are scaling up quickly.
“It is not just about good content or SEO, it is the mix that makes it happen,” says Jabre.