Boosting data, reducing costs & expanding your toolkit: HLabs reveals top publisher opportunities for 2023

Founder Han Springett shares her findings from her annual trip to New York to visit HLabs publishing & media clients focusing on branded content. We evaluate actionable 'quick wins' to get your content selling this quarter.
15th May 2023
8 min read
Written By Hannah Springett, HLabs Founder & CEO
US Trip - Toronto Conference
The city that never sleeps, and the home to 60% of HLabs clients

Over 10,000 miles, 15 meetings and over 70 contacts, HLabs caught up with WWF at the Awwwards conference in Toronto, publishing clients in New York and checked in for a film festival with 11th Hour Racing. Not only did we check in on our Ceros, VEV and Webflow partners but joined Red Bull to pick up our Webby too. It's no surprise that face-to-face is still the best way to interact with your network, this trip was no exception. Here's what I found out.

83% of publishers want more help with understanding their analytics

Are you even tracking your data?

The first question HLabs has been asking is how are you tracking your analytics currently. Most of our publishers using the Ceros platform to create branded content use the tools' backend analytics. This unique feature is super useful for quick reviews on visitors, dwell times and CTRs. If you want to level up, adding Google Analytics IDs to your content is the right place to start.

What's happened with Google Analytics?

It surprised a lot of our clients that Google Analytics migrated to G4 on July 1st 2023. We recommended everyone took a look into their data stack before the changeover, reminding everyone to download their most recent reports. The 'new' Google Analytics will focus on machine learning which is feared to have some teething problems at the beginning. Our tip is to be prepared!

How do get more informed?

Analytics is very nuanced to the client in question, it relies on how UTM's have been set up and how you are moderating it with internal processes. At HLabs, we wanted to get ahead of the curve so have teamed up with Accutics to offer a free intro workshop on how to track and use your data more effectively.

Book a workshop with HLabs & Accutics

87% of publishers are re-evaluating their cheapest products

We're calling it the joy of a 'trojan mouse'.

Everyone is looking to increase their sales. But how do we do this in an unstable market where closing a deal right now is taking so much longer? The concept of a 'trojan mouse', is the idea that a small project, affordable, with super quick turnaround times can open up the doors to a bigger project further down the road. A great example would be this lead gen, travel competition experience, we completed in just four days!

Utilising interactive modules and components

The fastest way to sell in an interactive campaign is to introduce an interactive component; a map, a quiz or a click-to-flip module for example, straight into an existing CMS. No-code platforms like Ceros are the perfect tool to do this, at scale for your clients.

We help publishers by creating these components in under a week (some in just 3 days) for fixed costs, allowing their sales team to focus on selling instead of being caught up with scoping. HLabs has created over 300 of these components this year and generated over $50 million in revenue for our clients. Sounds great right?

Ditch stock content and upsell illustration.

We found our publishers are making extra effort to focus on elevating campaigns with illustrations. HLabs saw an increase of 279% in illustration sales in 2022 as it was the easiest 'add on' to a project where good assets were scarce. Check out our new illustration offering here that showcases our in-house illustration team's beautiful examples.

"I can't quite believe we've been able to create over 300 interactive components this year! It's definitely the way forward for Publishers looking to scale. They are faster to design, quicker to build and most importantly, easier to sell."

87% of publishers are improving their marketing collateral and pitching

Slick showreels

The main takeaway from visiting the latest Toronto Awwwards event was watching how agencies are showcasing their work through video. The showreels from Dept and Locomotive were out of this world and proved that a 60-second, high speed and high-impact showreel is the fastest way to grab attention. Here's a mobile-friendly showreel we created for Hearst StoryStudio.

Revisit your rate card

The most common request we have on showcasing creative concepts is 'how much and how long'. We've developed a new CMS-driven filtering project showcase that allows us to filter our 720 projects in just a few clicks. We have an internal version that lists costs and timelines for each project. This system can be ideal for sales teams to jump between verticals in a meeting too.

Adding some 'sparkle' with Spark AR & Snapchat

Almost all of the publishers we spoke to were keen to get VR and AR experiences into their presale pitches. From location-specific 3D projection to simple face filters, mocks for a last-minute pitch can be easy to make if you know how and can act as a great leave-behind via a QR code. Check out our latest Spark AR experiments here.

"Spending time to improve pitching materials to be more experiential is key to closing more business. Clients all want to be entertained and wowed so let's bring them into the experience."

75% of awards we've entered, we've won.

The last tip, that's had success for HLabs and our clients joint marketing efforts is entering work for awards. Not only have we seen Food52's interactive recipe book take home an Honoree mention for the food and beverage category but we were able to take home the win for Digital Magazine Website with Red Bulletin.

It was a fantastic night and a well-deserved celebration of amazing content writing, visual storytelling and no-code technology.

Have you got a project idea you think is award-winning? Let's hear it!

Get in touch

Every publisher needs to innovate the experiences we sell and how we sell them.

In a fluctuating market, the biggest opportunities that publishers and media companies need to embrace is how to innovate and react quickly to new technology. We should work on expanding our toolkits and personalise the way we express these offerings to our clients. Tailoring the marketing in the short term will generate more in the long term.