Prior to starting Thesis, I dabbled with content arbitrage/slideshow sites. These sites featured awful content, misleading ad placements, annoying UX and worse. I was buying traffic from native networks (Outbrain, Taboola, RevContent etc.) and Facebook and using a combination of AdSense + header bidding for programmatic demand, native ad units, and other interstitial ad units to aggressively monetize the page views generated. It's a model that I imagine will never die.

Reference.com, part of the Ask Group/IAC and still going strong with arb!

One (the only?) benefit of this work is that I spent a great deal of time looking at native ads, and, while doing so, I came across a lot of effective content focused DR funnels. Below are a few classic examples:

EverQuote

NerdWallet

Gundry MD

Once we started Thesis, we had the opportunity to work on native campaigns with a number of D2C brands (Harry's, Hubble, and Tecovas among others), all of whom had clear CPA/ROAS or CPL goals. We tested a number of content landing page formats (ad -> article -> homepage or PDP) and we tried driving directly to earned/influencer articles (this Cup of Jo article on Bombas from 2016 is the gold standard reference for the influencer article approach). We quickly found we had more consistent success with owned vs third party content, as we had total control over the pages' layout and content and the attribution was much cleaner, too.

We eventually brought that content LP approach to other channels (namely Facebook/IG), and now long form content is central to a number of our client’s upper-funnel acquisition efforts. (Note: content landing pages date back to the dawn of internet advertising. Even further back when you consider the emergence of mail order advertising in the early 1900's. So we aren't attempting to claim credit for their invention, but merely to share how we've gotten to this point and some of what we've learned).

A Quick LP Case Study

As with any landing page experiment, we evaluate content landing pages on a performance basis, though, at times, it can be tempting to fixate on metrics like time on site, bounce rates, and pages per visit.

Below is an example straight from a recent experiment which pitted Facebook traffic driving to a homepage vs a listicle. The result wasn't massive, but it was meaningful in this case.

In this case, the listicle performed slightly better in engagement terms (bounce rate was lower, session duration was a touch higher) and most importantly it won on the key conversion metric.

Some suggestions when using content LPs:

Focus on prospecting

Usually you'll be better off running dynamic retargeting back to PDPs and keeping it simple. Your time is probably better served improving your prospecting performance anyway, as it's entirely possible your retargeting isn't actually accretive ;).

Use the added real estate to really tell your story (obviously!)

Content landing pages give you an opportunity to tell your story. Use it! I find it's a useful exercise to review your own PDPs... and realize that they are pretty vanilla above the fold on mobile (title + image + price + button). Content LPs give you a real opportunity to explain why your product is differentiated from similar looking stuff that's available on Amazon.


The title & intro-paragraph are critical + you should start with lists

In all of our testing, the intro paragraph & title combination is the biggest determinant of success. The whole point of this approach is to hook users in a way your homepage or PDP might not, and this is your opportunity to do so.

Readers love lists, and, as an added bonus, we've found they are much easier for freelance copy writers to write, as they don't really require a consistent narrative to make sense.

You don't need all of your site's navigation etc

You don't need your site's full header + footer, and you probably don't even want related articles/comments etc. Strip these down down as much as possible (like a Medium or Ghost post). These should really be a direct funnel if possible.

If listicles aren't working, try some of these other formats (articles, comparisons, first-person "letters")


This post was co-written by my friend and colleague Zach. If you have any questions or critiques of the above please let me know (adam@thesistesting.com). I'm always looking for other interesting LP examples, especially from the lead-gen world. And if you need help experimenting with this sort of an approach the Thesis team would of course be happy to help!