Playbuzz Aims To Help Publishers Get Chatty With Their Content

PlaybuzzConvoConversational UI is hot right now, and Playbuzz is hopping aboard the trend with a static content format that’s designed to mimic the layout of an SMS text conversation, including emoji, images and GIFs.

Dubbed Convo, the main purpose of the unit is to spice up editorial, improve engagement and generate more time spent.

That’s Playbuzz’s whole raison d’être. Like others in its competitive set, including Apester, SnapApp and Riddle, Playbuzz offers interactive content creation tools – polls, trivia, quizzes, videos, slideshows and the like – to accommodate evolving content consumption patterns on mobile.

A number of Playbuzz clients have been testing Convo on their sites, including Perez Hilton, Distractify, Meredith-owned Eat This Not That!, Spanish millennial-centric publisher Eslang and The Huffington Post UK, which has embedded it into articles about everything from a doctors strike in England to recaps of comedy programs.

“Previous quiz formats would only be suitable for certain things, usually more lighthearted and less serious topics,” said Chris York, social media editor at HuffPo UK. “[With this] if it’s a fun article, you can jazz it up with a few GIFs, but if you’re covering something more serious, just sticking to speech still looks great and doesn’t detract from the topic.”

HuffPo also uses Convo to parse out long conversations between multiple participants and pepper it with images and other interactive content.

“While we could always add these elements to articles before, being able to present them in a way everyone is familiar with, e.g., instant messaging, makes the format neater and flow more smoothly,” York said.

Tom Pachys, chief product officer of Playbuzz, acknowledges that Convo isn’t right for every setting. But then again, no format is.

“There is no format to rule them all or rule all stories,” Pachys said. “And of course, the content is the most important thing. You still need talent and an interesting topic. The format helps you; that’s all.”

Playbuzz claims that its launch partners have seen an average of more than three minutes spent with articles containing an embedded Convo.

Although HuffPo isn’t using Convo for commercial purposes at the moment, it’s having discussions with Playbuzz in the US and the UK (as are a number of Playbuzz’s other publisher clients) around how they could take advantage of interactive elements to bolster relationships with advertisers, including sponsored content applications.

Playbuzz has raised $31 million in four rounds since 2012, the most recent of which was a $15 strategic investment in March, led by Saban Ventures with participation from the Walt Disney Company.

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