Epicurious Rebuilds App To Sprinkle In Native Ads, Video

epicurious-appEpicurious completely rebuilt its app for Thanksgiving, incorporating best practices for designing content and ads for mobile.

The first version of Epicurious’ app, launched back in 2009, didn’t show ads. Later, they were tacked on. With the relaunch, Epicurious thought about how content and ads would work together from the start.

“We wanted to created an ecosystem designed to more thoughtfully integrate ads for advertisers,” said Eric Gillin, who oversaw the relaunch as executive director of Epicurious and product head for Food Innovation Group.

That new ad experience includes native tiles that emulate article designs, including galleries and recipes. And while Epicurious kept in-stream 300x250s banner ads, it deleted the mobile banner.

“We have high-quality, premium content. Is it worth it to have this Las Vegasy backfill thing?” Gillin said.

To power the native ad experience, Epicurious creates the ad within its custom content management system, Copilot. Then, using a Google SDK released earlier this year, it inputs the ad’s Copilot content ID, Gillin said. The Copliot API pulls the headline, image and link for the SDK to render the ad.

On the content side, Gillin hopes the revamp will improve engagement by encouraging more casual browsing. “Everyone hit the app and searched. No one did anything else,” Gillin said.

Epicurious staff will curate the home screen with articles like the “51 Most Popular Recipes Of All Time” and the app will feature video content, including short social videos and vertical video.

Like many publishers, Epicurious has changed how it views success of an app. Although its app has more than 10 million downloads since launching seven years ago, Epicurious wants to re-engage users after that initial download.

“People got burned on apps,” Gillin said, in part because app creators focused on downloads, not the subsequent experience. “There’s a different mindset now. They want the intensity of the connection, not scale. One hundred thousand happy people is worth more than 1 million people that never open again.”

Epicurious plans to tailor push notifications in order to engage users without turning them off. A notification about the recipe of the day might go out to only the most engaged users. And Epicurious will have a new discovery tool at its disposal thanks to iOS 10. Via Spotlight search, typing in “chicken cacciatore” will pull up a link to the recipe page, which loads instantly.

The app offers a direct connection to Epicurious’ most loyal users. Compared to Epicurious’ web readers, app users consume nine times more content and are 20 times more engaged. They spend 30 minutes with the app a month, Gillin said. “They are our core audience, and this is a thank-you present to them.”

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