The web is becoming an increasingly visual place. From Pinterest to selfies and animated Gifs to infographics, consumers are gobbling up digital imagery at an insatiable rate. This holds true whether the digital content is delivered via social media platforms or by a brand, business or media website. And given that visual and interactive content experiences aren’t just pretty pictures but have been shown to increase engagement, it appears to be worth the investment, something that Forbes is counting on with the launch of its new Pulse product.
When Forbes Media launched BrandVoice more than four years ago, “We had the core philosophy that all content is equal—that journalists had interesting things to say and that marketers have interesting things to say,” says chief product officer Lewis Dvorkin. And since then, Dvorkin’s provided the publications’ editorial staff, outside contributors, and brand partners alike with robust tools to tell their stories.
“As the web becomes more visual, marketers seek to create much more immersive experiences in brand safe environments.” He’s seen that while consumers still enjoy text-based pages, they find immersive and interactive experiences highly engaging. The BrandVoice team built Pulse to be highly flexible in order to enable marketers to create unique experiences in a credible environment.
Over the past nine months or so, Dvorkin says Forbes has been rolling out upgrades to its article, individual, and sponsored editorial pages using a “methodical, consistent approach.” This latest iteration, which debuts with BrandVoice client Toyota, will soon be made available to the editorial side of the house as well.
Toyota’s Pulse incorporates video, trivia questions and data visualization in a highly-visual endless scroll page. Dvorkin emphasized the speed and relative ease with which this campaign came to fruition: It took about six to eight weeks, only a fraction of which was production time and involved a relatively small team, given the complexity of the end result, says Dvorkin. “There were definitely designers and others involved, but this is not something where we had to hire dozens of staff to get it done.” And given that this was the debut project for Pulse, Dvorkin is confident that the process will quickly become even more streamlined.
From a content perspective, the Toyota campaign centers around a range of ideas that skeptics said would never come to pass–such computers in every home and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles–but that have evolved into successful innovation. Forbes Media has encountered a good deal of skepticism itself as it innovated on the business of media over the years, first with its contributor model and then with BrandVoice. In answer to the skeptics, Dvorkin points responds simply by pointing to the company’s continued growth. He also notes that the marketplace has become increasingly accepting of quality branded content.
Looking back at the growth of digital publishing over the past 10 years, Dvorkin says “it was very clear to me that, just as a journalist or expert could reach a digital audience without a brand, so could a marketer publish content digitally without a publisher.” Yet there remains a steady desire on the part of marketers to place their brands in a credible environment, particularly as consumers struggle to navigate the “vast sea of content.” Dvorkin notes he’s seen the maturing of a “new generation out there that’s wise to the ways of the web.” Give them good information and a positive experience, and he’s confident that they’ll be back for more.