How Nova Entertainment changed its UX for better content engagement

What this radio station had to do in order to meet the changing content consumption needs of consumers

Nova Entertainment recently built a pop culture, news and entertainment platform, Goat, to appeal to the demands of an increasingly mobile-first youth. The platform was built using digital experience platform, WP Engine to ensure it was fast, user friendly, appealed to young people and took a mobile only approach.

However, not long into the project, Nova recognised it needed to revamp this concept, making the site compatible on other platforms. Though the initial concept was a novelty, Nova chief digital officer, Fayad Tohme, said millennials today are accessing content in so many different ways, it needed to adapt in order for Goat to thrive.

“Goat is the product built a year ago, and initially we went with mobile only because according to the demographic and our research, 90 per cent of the younger demographic consume and use pop culture and news via mobile devices, most specifically in social," Tohme said. "But when the product evolved, and the channels evolved, we found we also needed to expand channels and target our audience wherever they are. So it's not just about mobile, but also the different type of devices, and the different types of content distribution."

Since then, Nova has worked with XWP Agency to overhaul the Nova FM website to stand out in a competitive media and marketing landscape. To do this, it consolidated all station sites into one, made it faster to load, and added a persistent radio player, so users can listen to the radio while scrolling across different Nova sites, and optimised it editorial experience.

Tohme said Nova is delighted with the increase in engagement it has achieved by overhauling user experience (UX) on its sites.

“Website users are no different than any other city in the Western world; they are tech savvy, and they have high expectations. So building products that are user friendly, fast, responsive, interactive, designed to engage, and sleek in design when it comes to content and experience is critical,” he told CMO.

“There is a very short span to attract, and keep, attention. So to get user attention you need to do the UX work right, and do it once. Consumers continuously compare experiences to other products, so the bar is high.”

XWP Agency used open source technology to improve the UX. In particular, the team deployed a progressive Web app (PWA), which gives users a mobile-friendly and app-like experience when using the site from their phones.

However, it wasn’t just the technology. Everything has been overhauled, from the content curation, headlines, imagery, down to the content’s tone of voice, which must be authentic and genuine to connect with younger consumers, Tohme added.

“With the tone of voice, especially with the youth and millennials, we had to move towards being more authentic, genuine and actually have a conversation with them when it comes to our articles and content," he said. “So we now tend to work through more at their level, rather than telling them something in a top down fashion. We have to be working from their point of view. So we work on empathy and also relatability."

With a lot of content consumed on social, as well as the move into voice and audio content, Tohme said Nova recognises different content requires different channels. Therefore, the channels and the content is dependent on the product itself, and may be consumed on or off platform.

“So it depends on the product and channel, if they consume content off platform like on Goat, where they discover and engage with our content via social channels like Instagram and Facebook and others, then having a core site is more important than an app," he continued. “We've experimented with a broad group of social but what we found is Facebook and Instagram, specifically Instagram, are our most important channels. Our traffic from Instagram has probably doubled in the last year, and we are looking at unique content opportunities like TikTok.

“However, we also have people listening to the radio on the Internet, people listening to podcasts or audio on demand, or watch a specific video series and transact with us that way. Having a dedicated channel like an app builds a better user experience for this content."

On the main channel, it’s about traffic via mobile devices on the Web, while apps are built for a more loyal and more committed audience to go into channels directly. To further innovate here, Nova is working on a voice app for Alexa and Google smart speakers and audio devices.

The content strategy itself is different right down to the tone of voice and the approach, Tohme added. "Nova is more fresh entertainment news, it's an extension to our broadcast radio content, so reality TV content is critical and are also more likely to be celebrity gossip and these are the things that have traction," he explained.

“Other sites, like Girl, is more feisty, sassy and informative, so we drive more opinion-based pieces, where it has more twists in the approach. Across sites we can both be talking about the same content but one of them, for example Max, might be a of recap from last night, however on Girl we may look at it is life lessons learned around toxic relationships or life lessons general, and so the angle is different while the content is the same.”

Up next: How this new content approach is opening up fresh content marketing opportunities, plus delving into the tech

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Content marketing

On top of this, Tohme said Nova is experimenting with it content marketing approach, and constantly looking for the potential to commercialise. Key to this content marketing is again the platform on which the sites are built. This has enabled not only a faster load time and an eternal scroll for better engagement, it has also allowed A/B testing and the use of metrics for continuous improvement.

“Merging our platforms into single content management system and the ability to form one platform to distribute our content has been invaluable,” Tohme said.

“It is now far more efficient to create and distribute and also curate content. That was the main decision to build a single platform and to choose WordPress and WP Engine. And then by doing that, it means bringing together all our data to determine what's working, what's not working, do A/B testing for content, and then perform analytics over the entire scope of our audience.

“We have continuous test and learn approach, we do a lot of A/B testing on a day to day basis for mainly content, and even content creation when it comes to what headlines, what photos, what is the best length of the content. We curate the main pages within the content hubs, so each page would have the right localised experience."

The next phase of the project is to build dynamic content, so every user will have relevant content not just when on Nova's website, but also across apps, post experiences, EDMs and push channels.

Helping this ambition are different measures depending on purpose. "One of key purposes operationally was to be able to quickly create content and distribute content on multiple channels within a small time frame," Tohme said.

"The other one is more engagement, and how can we increase engagement from an audience perspective. We have shifted from just looking at page views, to more engagement time, so how far users read through an article, where they are dropping out, where they click next, so it's more engagement time, and a shift to quality versus quantity."

Tohme was proud of the fact Nova had increased engagement time on assets. "We're looking for more of that loyal, committed audience, rather than a reader just every now and then. And we know commercially, we want to be working towards more branded content than just display ads. And to do that you need this more loyal customer and audience," he said. 

“But also we want to move from just anonymous audience to addressable audience, so we want them to actually log in with us or register at least once, or subscribe with us, so we know who they are and then we're able to deliver more personalised experiences to encourage engagement for longer, and more often. So these are the key metrics we want.”

The tech and strategic approach

XWP Agency chief revenue officer, Amit Sion, noted a few things about the Nova project that are quite unique.

“A big focus when we started was on performance of the sites. Especially when we talk about targeting youth, where they used to everything being on demand and any more than two seconds and they're bored, and they're out. So fast loading was key,” he told CMO.

“Also, performance has such a big impact on search engine optimisation, so we employed a technology called AMP, which is a plugin for WordPress to make websites load faster. That's something we were working on quite actively with Google and it was quite neat in that Nova was taking on this technology as it was coming out. There were even elements where we're linking in with our Google team to make sure we're learning from how it was being used by Nova and feeding this information back to Google."

Another innovative element was around the different ways people consume information and notably, how people like to consume information from multiple sources at the same time.

"The same way, when people were going to the Nova site, the ability to have radio streaming at the same time as clicking through on the sites... and not having to open it in a separate window was important. So we have a persistent radio player, which is quite new and not being done by many other radio stations worldwide," he explained.

The last one was the infinite scroll, or ability to load numerous long articles. "If we're able to load the content continuously as the user is scrolling that allows us to provide the sort of positive experience which is quite popular now," Sion added. 

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