SourceMedia went from 17 to one CMS to improve content sharing, data collection

SourceMedia started in 2004 after a spinoff by Thomson Financial, but its B2B publications, including American Banker and National Mortgage News, go back as far as the 1830s, and until recently, its sites operated on 17 content-management systems.

“When each site had a different CMS and different user experience, it wasn’t scalable,” said Minna Rhee, chief product and audience officer at SourceMedia. “We wanted a stronger data focus, and we couldn’t do that when every time we made a change, we had to do it 17 times.”

Earlier this month, SourceMedia brought all of its websites under one CMS called Brightspot that’s owned by web-development firm Perfect Sense Digital. Using a single platform made it easier for the publisher to share editorial content, collect user data, target ads and standardize the ad inventory across its properties.

Since the beginning of the year, SourceMedia moved five of its publications to the CMS, and with Bond Buyer adopting Brightspot a few weeks ago, all of SourceMedia’s websites now use the same CMS. The number of people working on the CMS fluctuates and outside contractors come in for larger projects, but in general, about seven people work on managing the CMS and leveraging its data.

There are a few benefits to using a single CMS. Editors can run other site’s post with just a few clicks rather than having to copy and paste content and rebuild articles in another CMS. SourceMedia declined to share how often it handles content in this manner.

By using a single platform, SourceMedia can also more efficiently collect data from users and target them with ads and emails. This is because with one CMS, article tags and topics match up across all of SourceMedia’s websites.

For example, if SourceMedia’s product team wants to target users who are interested in the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, it can pull up a quick search across all of its websites to find the users who read articles about Dodd-Frank. The product team can serve those users ads, newsletters and emailed promos about financial products. When each publication had its own CMS, the product team would have to do these searches individually, filtering out duplicate users when compiling the results. About 25 percent of SourceMedia’s digital revenue comes from these targeted products, Rhee said.

SourceMedia also hopes a single CMS will help it increase programmatic sales. Nearly all of its inventory is still sold through direct sales, Rhee said. The company is considering adopting header bidding to sell inventory on open exchanges. Centralizing its CMS will make it easier for SourceMedia to standardize its ad packages and manage the inventory across its websites, Rhee said.

SourceMedia’s developers can now add, subtract or rearrange ad units across all its websites simultaneously. To increase viewability, ads appeared higher in articles, and sticky ads replaced square display ads. As websites moved to the main CMS, they also underwent redesigns so they’d feel the same to users and offer similar ad placements for advertisers.

“The real power is when you can leverage the CMS with other tools,” Rhee said. “It was important to put the platform in place so that we could more easily plug other things into it.”

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