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How curated content can help publishers cut-through the content obesity crisis

The publisher world is experiencing an obesity crisis while the attention span of readers is thinning so publishers are moving to curated content to cut through and engage tired audiences.

The Financial Times is one of many publishers curating content both for loyal and new readers to reposition itself in the marketplace as more than just a financial title in order to engage a wider audience.

The Drum spoke to the Financial Times' (FT) head of curated content Andrew Jack, who is also a judge at The Drum's Online Media Awards, on why curated content is important now. Jack argued that if media is to survive, this kind of proposition - helping people cope with an increasing amount of information through a high quality filter of judgement - is vital.

Firstly, curated content allows better discovery of content that is relevant to each audience, and is a personalised offering. While algorithms can do this to a degree, the value of an editor’s judgement is not lost.

The other benefit of curated content is around distribution. Since publishers push out their content not only through their owned channels but also via third party aggregators and social media channels, the flow of content across this spectrum lends itself well to a more curated selection of articles, since each platform commands a different audience.

The FT distributes its content across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as through WeChat in Asia. Apple News is a platform the FT are eyeing up, Jack confirms, after recent news that the technology firm has been looking to open up its News service to subscription-based content. But while these platforms are useful, Jack says email is a particularly powerful platform for the FT’s readership, and should not be underestimated.

Many publishers are torn between distributing content on third parties like Facebook and Google, and putting too much power in the hand of said platforms, without bringing viewers back to their own sites. Jack said while linking-back is a priority for the publisher, there are other ways a publisher can benefit from distributing content onto these platforms, which is all around the process of discovery:

“Social helps drive brand recognition to reach new audiences that might not previously have engaged with the FT which they might think is all financial, where in fact we have cultural art coverage, or broader political and international affairs coverage."

"So there are other ways to get value out of the relationship. If you want to be at the forefront of digital innovation it is important to look and experiment with lots of different platforms to be at the cutting edge of where media is going.”

The Online Media Awards 2016 are open for entries until 9 March. Click here to register.