A New Age for Digital Publications
In addition to several other web properties, the Air Force Association (AFA) manages the web presence for Air Force Magazine, the association’s monthly journal and among the world’s foremost publications on defense, aerospace, and airpower. The magazine covers air and space operations, programs, technology, as well as its people and history. With sections on bases, budgets, commands, people, and weapons systems, the Air Force Magazine has become a one-stop shop for U.S. Air Force information.
However, since its first move to an online format, digital magazines and publications have evolved dramatically as readership adapts quickly to new digital platforms and technologies and shift their expectations. As a result, many publications, including the Air Force Magazine, have found themselves with an out-of-date website and dwindling traffic numbers.
A Technological Leap
Prior to working with Unleashed, the Air Force Magazine was on an antiquated site, operating on SharePoint, that was poorly designed and lacked flexibility. The result was a lack of functionality and missed opportunities to engage with more sophisticated readers with higher expectations for consuming content online. After an initial review with Unleashed, it became apparent that the magazine site would need to be completely rebuilt.
Through discovery and requirements analysis, Unleashed created a roadmap to replace the existing website with a dynamic site built on the WordPress content management system (CMS) and tailored for an online publication. The site plan was developed with a focus on user experience and a full integration into the AFA parent site through single sign-on and integration with the membership database. Additionally, the site would be designed with a for a fully responsive experience to enable the Air Force Magazine readers to engage with the publication on any connected device.
A New CMS and A New Experience
With a new CMS serving as its foundation, the Unleashed team worked with the Air Force Magazine team to identify and key features that would maximize the value and impact of the new site. These key elements include:
Discovery created a pathway for the Unleashed team to configure the magazine’s WordPress instance to best meet the organization’s needs. The configuration included customs builds and implementation of appropriate plugins to improve performance and integrate key features.
Advertising with Google DFP
Advertisements on the new Air Force Magazine site are managed by DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) through a corresponding WordPress plugin configured to create DFP advertising areas as page components. Management of advertising on pages is conducted via Google's DFP management interface.
Robust Content Archive
Through an automated process using scripts to extract data, the Unleashed team coordinated a content migration to extract old content and convert it into the website format. The result is robust library with articles and other content dating back to 1955.
To create a connection between the magazine and the USAF Almanac, Unleashed developed a custom API and a single sign-on (SSO) solution with Salesforce. The result is a data pull from Salesforce to ensure only designates visitors can access the almanac without have to login or logout.
SEO and Metadata
Unleashed' Digital Strategists ensured that the Air Force Magazine's new website is configured to meet search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. The holistic effort includes configuring the metatag module for each content type, landing page, and listing page, and much more.
Social Media Sharing
The Unleashed development team integrated the ShareThis tool into WordPress to encourage social interactions with the Air Force Magazine content. The plugin promotes easy sharing of content by visitors and provides statistical analysis of social interactions.
Content Feature Modules
Unleashed integrated multiple types of content feature modules into the WordPress CMS to increase the engagement levels for the Air Force Magazine site. Unleashed installed and configured various plugins for HTML email notifications, template creation, spam moderation through CAPTCHA, content publishing workflows, and more.
A Site Takes Flight
Upon launch, the Air Force Magazine saw an immediate upgrade in user experience and visitor engagement, while also improving the administrator experience to manage and update content. As a result, within months of the launch, the magazine doubled its website traffic and surpassed more than 100 percent increased year-over-year.
Additionally, the new site saw a significant progress in its Google indexation placement. Combined with the traffic growth, it enabled the Air Force Magazine to adopt a more sophisticated model of digital advertising sales. The result is an increase in advertising sales and revenue as the digital magazine has become an advertising leader in their space.
While the magazine’s accomplishments are impressive, the work goes on. Unleashed has adopted the viewpoint that the digital landscape is always evolving. As a result, we are committed to empowering our clients to navigate these shifts and ensure their websites and web applications are meeting user expectations and taking advantage of technological opportunities.
Today, the Air Force Magazine and Unleased teams are in constant communication to enhance the website, drive ad revenue, manage visitor access, and keep an eye on the horizon.
We have more than doubled traffic this year from that of 2019, reaching more than a 100-percent increase year-over-year (YoY). We’ve also seen an increase in Google index, along with phenomenal traffic growth, enabling us to attract and sell more advertising. We can support a more sophisticated ad sales model and have become a legitimately competitive player in our space."
Air Force Magazine
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