Usefulness is the key to successful online content

APA Digital This week, at the APA Digital Breakfast ‘Notes from the Editors', we discussed online content looking at a host of challenges - communicatively, commercially, operationally and politically.

We were lucky enough to have presentations from three experts in online content - Anne Rafferty (Managing Director at Penguin Digital), Annie Deakin, (Editor at and design columnist for The Independent) and Anna Caborn (Creative Director at CDA).

First to present was Anne Rafferty who, as well as being managing director at Penguin Digital, was also winner of New Media Age's Greatest Individual Contribution to New Media 2009. Anne worked to create  a blog created to encourage new readers or to inspire existing readers to sample classic penguin books. They offered free books in return for the reader to write a review (positive or negative) online, thereby handing over the editorial control to users in the form of a blog. The blog now has tens of thousands of visitors per day. The rewards were that Penguin had their best year of sales to date for their classics. The audience debated if it is good or bad for a brand to have negative feedback. Penguin found it was good for them as it sparked debate, and therefore overall brand awareness.

Annie Deakin from went on to talk about the challenges of editing an online magazine. is the number 1 website for designing and shopping for your home. The integration of the magazine to fit with the brands on the website has been a great success. The online magazine has given users a reason to return, with content such as daily news, competitions, blogging, 3D room planner and editors picks. is an engaging site creating brand value and increased ROI on a small budget.

To close Anna Caborn who is the Creative Director at CDA - a content strategy and digital communications consultancy - spoke about how to ensure you have an effective online presence. With several example case studies Anna showed how you can improve a website, explaining how to replicate offline success online for branded communications. Sharing insights to help agencies when preparing for a clients online editorial planning strategy. Examples of successful website content were; and

Key points:

  • User generated content is free and valuable
  • People are not reading online content in the traditional manner. They skim sites until they find what they are looking for then they 'settle'. They want content quickly and easily
  • Key word for online content is ‘usefulness'

The next digital breakfast is in Sept. More details about the topic and date to follow later this month.

Posted in
22ndJul 2009

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