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How Journal Media Extended Its Reach with Mobile and OTT

Video Views Surpass Goal in Six Months with High Traffic and Audience Engagement

If you’re one of the 3.2 million farmers in the United States, chances are you’ve heard of Farm Journal Media (FJM), one of the oldest agricultural publications in the country. What started as a print magazine 140 years ago has now evolved into a full-blown multimedia company focusing on the intricacies of the commercial farming industry.

FJM’s evolution is apparent in its collection of media properties, including 11 business publications, eight broadcast programs, 26 websites, two e-newsletters, and an OTT network, Farm Journal On Air, which is available via web and mobile app. Its programs are broadcast to 100 or so local network affiliates, and they’re also available on digital cable and satellite channel, RFD-TV. Considering FJM’s audience reach, high-quality content, and impressive viewership of nearly two million people weekly, the company is arguably the agricultural industry’s leader in media publishing.

In order to stay number one, FJM knows it has to continue evolving and providing viewers quality content in whatever mode they prefer. “It’s important we go where the customers are,” says Clinton Griffiths, Editorial Director of FJM’s Broadcast Division. And as evidenced by FJM’s track record, they’ve been doing just that. A perfect example is the company’s transition from a single print magazine to an industry premier website, AgWeb, and syndicated broadcast program, AgDay, which is also available on a variety of platforms, including Farm Journal On Air, RFD-TV, and the AgDay website.

“The AgWeb site has now grown into a powerhouse of the industry,” says Griffiths. “It gets more than half the traffic from people looking for agriculture news, markets and other related information. It’s just a behemoth out there in the business.”

Giving customers what they want has always been the driving force behind FJM’s business model. That’s why the company teamed up with Brightcove to further expand its digital footprint. In just about seven months, Brightcove successfully supported FJM in building and launching its OTT and mobile initiatives, driving incredible engagement across all digital properties, and discovering new ad revenue opportunities to help fund future video endeavors.

Farm Journal Media Partners with Brightcove to Supercharge its Video Content

During the company’s transition to digital, FJM first delivered video through a content delivery network, but during that time, the team recognized several challenges that were preventing FJM from optimizing its assets. For one, the network’s player, based in Flash, forced content to load far too slowly. Two, the platform lacked a smart tagging system and a flexible player. This made it nearly impossible to play video seamlessly within different browsers or mobile devices, and it erased any chance of enabling interactive content. And three, the entire platform was behind the times; it couldn’t provide FJM the tools it needed to stay on top of the latest technology trends. That’s when the FJM team began looking for the industry standard platform, and discovered Brightcove.

Brightcove’s player has proved to be the ultimate asset for FJM. Its optimized, lightweight technology allows for fast load and play times, which is incredibly helpful for consumers living in areas of limited connectivity. Since FJM’s target demographic is located mostly in rural areas, consumers’ access to high-speed internet is spotty at best. That’s why the Brightcove player helps FJM deliver high-quality video content to any location, regardless of bandwidth.

The player also supports smart tagging, making it easy to distribute video seamlessly, no matter what browser or platform people are using.

“You can put up one video, and it is delivered to multiple players,” says Griffiths. “That’s as opposed to setting up and managing each player individually.”

And because of its impressive workflow efficiency, Brightcove’s platform has truly transformed the way Griffiths and his digital team think about producing and distributing content. Rather than managing separate players and playlists, they’re now able to focus solely on managing the videos themselves, which makes a big difference as far as efficiency is concerned.

Optimizing Content Helps Drive Ad Revenue for Farm Journal Media

Since partnering with Brightcove, FJM has been able to take advantage of the platform’s many benefits to drive an increase in ad inventory.

The team is segmenting video content into short, strategically packaged pieces—a helpful practice that drives more traffic to multiple distribution points. Griffiths explains:

“We discovered shorter, more compact clips are far better solutions for digital audiences. Now that we’re doing smart tagging, we’re shortening our clips and being more specific. We’re writing new stories around everything and driving traffic to individual pieces of video, as opposed to the entire show every day.”

FJM now is able to repurpose one piece of video into individual segments and deliver them separately throughout the company’s multiple digital properties and platforms. Therefore, FJM doesn’t have to create more video content; instead, it can distribute many versions of the same video, resulting in more viewing opportunities and a highly efficient work process. In fact, within the first six months of using the Brightcove platform, FJM hit its max data limit for video views, indicating incredibly high traffic and audience engagement. From August 2016 to August of 2017, digital video and audio plays have risen nearly 140 percent.

As FJM’s video assets continue to grow and its viewership increases, its sales team has begun seeking opportunities for additional revenue to support the company’s video initiatives. Griffiths says the team is collaborating with sales staff to develop an impactful approach to pre-, mid-, and post-roll opportunities proving to advertisers just how valuable FJM’s digital content is.

Boost in Mobile Use Allows FJM to Make the Argument for OTT Video

While broadband connectivity poses a challenge to most of FJM’s rural viewers, it’s actually helped expand FJM’s mobile viewership. With more people investing in mobile technology, including increased data plans and 4G speeds, the company’s ability to reach on-the-go audiences has skyrocketed.

“It makes sense that people are going to get the content where they can actually stream it,” says Griffiths. “It looks like our viewers use their phones for that because oftentimes the connection is actually faster than the internet connection they have at home.”

And with such an attentive mobile audience, FJM is now aiming to attract even more users to its OTT channel, Farm Journal On Air. The channel’s recently revamped mobile app, built with the help of Brightcove’s OTT Flow, will be a huge asset in extending the reach to mobile consumers and at-home audiences. FJM expects their mobile app will be especially appealing to those who have chosen satellite TV or have “cut the cord” in favor of other video services for direct-to-consumer viewing.

“We’re looking to roll out our OTT channel to services like Apple TV and Roku,” says Griffiths. “We eventually want to deliver to bigger screens and living room television sets.”


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