Inside A Content Hit: PopSugar’s Fruity Pebbles No-Bake Cheesecake

PopSugar-Fruity-Pebbles-CheesecakeBehind every piece of PopSugar viral content, there’s data.

The lifestyle pub’s recipe and video for Fruity Pebbles No-Bake Cheesecake has attracted 9.4 million video views and 238,000 shares on Facebook since it went live in June.

Landing on the winning recipe required sifting through audience insights and constant tweaking so it would resonate with readers.

It started when a PopSugar editor saw a Los Angeles bakery’s recipe for Fruity Pebbles Cheesecake was trending.

PopSugar also knew from Adobe Analytics that “no bake” searches trend during the summer, said Chris George, SVP of product marketing for PopSugar. “Viewers like shortcuts,” he said. “That made it appealing to our audience.

The idea of using childhood cereal in a recipe tapped into a nostalgia trend PopSugar had observed over the past nine to 12 months, George said.

And PopSugar knew readers liked recipes that called out brand names of products.

Because PopSugar’s data is available to all of its departments, editors can easily use insights like these to adapt content. Instead of requesting information from someone in analytics, they can dive in themselves, George said, a change that’s happened in the past few years.

Originally, it only used Adobe Analytics for the ecommerce side of its business, ShopStyle, but has since expanded its use to editorial.

“We went from having a small amount of people that had the knowledge, to everyone being able to find out the right data that makes sense for their jobs,” George said. “Implementing analytics across our content business gave us far more intelligence about what was working and what our audience was responding to.”

PopSugar also uses its own proprietary formula, the PopSugar engagement score, to evaluate the success of an article. Its engagement score takes in three metrics: visits, time spent and shares. Because each metric represents deeper engagement with the content, PopSugar can flag articles that get many visits but have low time spent, for example.

This engagement score allows for a more nuanced understanding of successful articles. Some types of stories – like articles about weight loss or pregnancy – aren’t often shared because they’re personal, George said, so it’s better to look at time spent. Similarly, celebrity couple stories are something “people like to indulge in, but they don’t like to share.”

PopSugar uses APIs to plug in all of its distribution channels like Facebook and Pinterest and measure content performance off-site. While the rise of multiple distribution channels makes it tough to get a holistic view of content performance and audience, PopSugar prefers that complexity to the risk of relying on one channel.

“It’s smart to optimize your content based on how people consume it and where you get uplift, but you don’t want to base your business model on one platform or metric,” George warned. “There are publications raising millions of dollars today that are doing that, and I think it’s dangerous.”

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