How Do LittleThings Handle Monetization, Emerging Markets And Competition?

We spoke to its COO, Gretchen Tibbits


Perhaps contrary to almost all other mainstream media, LittleThings have the distinct voice of positivity. Their uplifting, inspiring content drew them 46 million monthly active users in just over a year, futher proof that the apparently struggling publishing industry can still be successful, when navigated well. We sat down with LittleThings COO, Gretchen Tibbits, to discuss all things digital publishing. 

How do you think publishers will continue to develop other monetization strategies?

Monetization will continue to be a challenge for many digital publishers as ad blockers and distributed content change the playing field. LittleThings has a different perspective than other publishers; we’ve created a profitable business built on the foundation of programmatic advertising. Our Advertising Operations team built an ad stack, complete with header bidding technology that is recognized as one of the most sophisticated in the publishing industry. Our company philosophy is to constantly test and pursue new opportunities in every aspect of the business, from content creation to monetization. We regularly evaluate possible new partners who have the potential to bring higher quality and more appropriately targeted ads at a better fill rate and higher CPM than what we currently experience.

In addition to our foundation of programmatic advertising, LittleThings is further diversifying revenue with the formation of a new Direct Advertising Sales team. We’ve recently hired six seasoned sales professionals, including Chris McLoughlin, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing. The team’s digital advertising experience will help LittleThings to accelerate our growth and revenue trajectory, while also establishing stronger relationships with brands, agencies, and advertisers.

What emerging markets do you think are most exciting for publishers?

The distributed platform model is becoming more important and powerful — especially given the multitude of platforms from which publishers can choose.

Last year, LittleThings made what some considered a 'risky bet' — focusing on creating quality content made available whenever and wherever our highly engaged audience was online. We determined that the multiple facets of Facebook provided the ideal distribution platform to reach and connect with our audience. We treat Facebook as four different sub platforms — Facebook Live, Instant Articles, Native video, and the traditional social feed — and have different content strategies and monetization expectations for each.

Facebook Live is the newest and most exciting opportunity for LittleThings, and we’re expanding and testing our content offerings on a daily basis. Despite a few early challenges in broadcasting high-quality video and audio, the technology and interface are quickly catching up to demand. Our success with Facebook Instant Articles and the Facebook Audience Network are great examples of how we have been able to monetize an emerging Facebook platform, and we look forward to achieving that same success with Facebook Live.

Now everyone develops and shares content. How do you stay ahead in a saturated space?

We strive to remain true to our mission of publishing only 'inspiring, uplifting, and engaging content.'

Facebook continues to modify its algorithm. While this has created business challenges for many publishers, our experience is that Facebook rewards publishers that focus on creating quality content and maximizing the user experience. LittleThings content is tested using our proprietary algorithm, resulting in LittleThings being ranked as one of the top 15 Facebook publishers and consistently among the top three in engagement and interactions per article posted.

Looking at the growth in Snapchat and changes to other social platforms, how are you looking to continue to utilize this space?

LittleThings is committed to the distributed platform model. We remain focused on creating quality content for our core audience, while continually evaluating emerging platforms, including Snapchat and Facebook Live. We’re closely watching what other publishers are doing on Snapchat Discover. Currently, the demographic is very different than that of our audience, but I would not be surprised to see us publishing there before the end of the year. So outside of monitoring our competitors, our utilization of Snapchat is at a bare minimum at this time, but Snapchat is certainly on our radar.

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