Capturing the attention of the fast-growing smartphone audience should be the biggest priority for magazine brands in 2014, says The Daily Beast's Irish chief executive Rhona Murphy.
Its name might be taken from a fictional newspaper in Evelyn Waugh's satire Scoop , but The Daily Beast has always been a strictly ink-free proposition, and the site is now finding that there is life after Tina Brown who founded it in 2008.
Murphy will address the Magazines Ireland Publishing 360 conference in Dublin next Wednesday in a session titled "Look! No Print", in which she will make the case for embracing digital.
Murphy will also talk about the lessons learned from the short-lived merger of Newsweek with The Daily Beast in an entity called The Newsweek Daily Beast Company. The entity was eventually written off as a "failed experiment" by one of its backers, billionaire Barry Diller. However, The Daily Beast has continued without Newsweek or Brown under Diller's company IAC, and new editor-in-chief John Avlon is doing "a phenomenal job" in boosting its audience.
Murphy attributes record traffic levels in March to original editorial content – “expensive to do, but it guarantees a more loyal audience” – and use of social media. About half of its traffic now comes from mobile, while around a third comes from social media referrals.
The Daily Beast has an unusual feature called the “read this” list. When users read an article they are presented with a list of four more articles, which will appear underneath the first one without the need to click.
This means users can read five articles and it only counts as one page impression. However, it has succeeded in increasing dwell time, says Murphy. “We did it deliberately to see if readers would keep on scrolling down, and it has worked.”