Atlas News and Viafoura – achieving soaring levels of community engagement

Focused on bridging the gap between the intelligence community and the general public through short-form content, Atlas News covers everything from geo-politics to conflict. While Atlas News is a digital news site, Stanford Nix, COO explains that “our community is our business”.

Their vibrant community is unbelievably active and loyal to their brand. “People use our products and consume our content because it’s important. They stay because they enjoy it” says Stanford. Most publishers dream of a community that sees and values everything they do. Atlas News has more than achieved that ideal. They’ve even had customers emailing them informing them of a loophole in subscription walls, and offering to pay back their subscription for the previous 4 months – all because they value the content Atlas News provides!

It is because of these achievements that Atlas News has set its new product introduction standards so high. Stanford noticed that “while our readership was high, we didn’t integrate our audience into our new platforms. I went on a deep dive to find a solution that could provide our customers with a more broad range of product offerings. We don’t see Viafoura as a tool, we see it as a product. A product we could leverage to generate more traffic, time on platform, and revenue. We have arguably one of the most dedicated and active communities in news. Our engagement rates are 8x of industry standard and bringing that social media engagement to our platform was the obvious next step. And Viafoura is the clear king of community engagement.”

For Atlas News, integrating Viafoura’s Conversations, Live Blogs, Community Chat, Trending Articles, and Moderation solutions is helping them reach new levels of engagement. Says Stanford, “It will not only affect our digital experience, it IS the digital experience. Reading articles and being informed is the passion in our community. But community engagement is where we really see our business come to life. Social media style features like comments, follows, upvotes and downvotes, are going to be an integral part of our growth and overall attractiveness to our community.”

Viafoura is also excited to work with Atlas News. Dalia Vainer, Director of Customer Success at Viafoura affirms how “we are looking forward to launching Viafoura core suite with Atlas’ unique younger demographic! We’ll be actively engaging their direct-to-user relationship on their owned and operated- something their audiences are used to with socials, but leading in a brand-safe and 1st party data forward way. What an exciting launch! “

From community to reader revenue: lessons to learn from The Independent and Reach PLC

In its most simplest form, there are 2 steps to convert audiences into revenue:

  1. Engagement – unlocking the revenue potential of your audience
  2. Conversion – activating this potential to gradually increase revenue

The question then turns to exactly how this can be achieved.

For Mark Zohar, President and CEO at Viafoura, one of the most effective strategies involves building a community of increasingly more engaged and loyal users, whilst continuously moving them through a funnel of value exchanges and direct interactions to increase revenue.

Why should publishers build a community?

When audiences aren’t on your site, they’re spending a great deal of time on social media, growing accustomed to certain experiences and features that keep them coming back for more. In particular, these users feel part of a community. They can…

  • Interact with content
  • Comment
  • See other user’s opinions and contributions
  • Join events
  • Like and share content
  • Follow topics and authors that match their interests

These experiences have become user expectations, making traditional digital publisher sites seem passive with very little direct interaction.

As Mark puts it, we’re social beings who want to react and have human experiences – and it’s this that makes community so powerful.

“Publishers need to build a bridge between user expectations and experiences on publisher’s sites.” 

Another important reason why publishers should build a community is because content is a commodity – it’s easy to find any content at any time, especially for big news stories.

Community, on the other hand, is not a commodity. It’s an asset. Something that feeds into your brand value, that a user will come back for and that will make you different from other publishers producing similar content.

How engaging your community will drive value

All publishers with a reader revenue strategy aim to register or subscribe their audience. The problem, however, is when they try to go from 0 to 100 – from unengaged to a loyal subscriber.

Mark compares it to dating – you wouldn’t immediately ask someone to marry you (unless maybe if you’re on ‘Married at first sight’!), you’d ask them to dinner first.

Community helps to provide these intermediary steps, building engagement before trying to get value from your audience.

I.e. Community-led conversion.

For Reach PLC, this involves a 4-step model: Discover, Engage, Connect & Commit.

The key here, according to Mark, is to ungate the community but lock the content, reserving it for registered members or subscribers only. Readers will see the comments and feedback, building enough intrigue and interest to make them want to unlock the article.

Their ‘In Your Area’ postcode services & community, for instance, have led to 3 million registered users and a 35% increase in page-views per visitor since 2019.

On Reach’s “Devon Live” brand, commenting is reserved for registered users only, with messaging framing the action as a conversation that a reader can either be excluded or included in (“join”).

I’d add here that it’s also essential to highlight that registration is free. Although it benefits both you and the reader, it won’t cost them a penny and can be a brilliant way to monetize the large portion of your audience who may never pay to subscribe.

The Independent is another publisher who has made the most of community to register users, increasing engagement and collecting first-party data. To achieve this, they’ve put the focus on their audience, understanding and engaging with them in various forms across the site:

  • Q&A sessions with online experts covering a range of topics
  • Connecting journalists with their readers
  • Personalization features, such as the ability to follow topics, comment on articles and automated personalization based on data

Many of these community experiences are reserved for registered members who have proven to be 11x more engaged than anonymous users. 

And the funnel doesn’t stop there. Even after creating an account, registered users may still be blocked when trying to access premium features, such as bookmarking content, which are reserved for paying subscribers.

These conversion steps gradually move users through a funnel, collecting first-party data, increasing engagement and, importantly, revenue.

Subscribers have proven to be 62x more engaged than anonymous visitors

Best practices for building & gaining value from community

1) Reward your best contributors for their loyalty and participation

“Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one, whilst increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits from 25-95%”.

Retention should therefore be a priority, and rewarding highly engaged community members can play a valuable role in ensuring these users keep coming back.

  • Exclusive access for highly engaged users
  • Social proof – provide them with a subscriber badge or ‘super engaged user’ tag by their name (think of Twitter’s blue tick system)
  • Referral bonus/reward for inviting a new user to join the community
  • Feature their comments somewhere publicly, giving them a sense of fame
  • Reply to these users, establishing a more direct relationship with your publication

2) Highlight the best of your community

The benefits of this are two fold:

Firstly, you forefront the best comments to entice non-members to unlock content and comment so as to not miss out on this conversation. Any comments that add insight but also open up the discussion are particularly valuable here.

Secondly, you give the writers of these featured comments a sense of fame and inclusion as they’re placed directly below the article, encouraging them to comment more frequently.

3) Think bigger than just comments

As Mark put it, you can’t just slap on a comment section and hope for the best. You have to develop a whole community experience from the moment a user lands on your site and do so through a variety of formats.

Some of the most successful community-building techniques involve direct interaction between the newsroom and your audience. This could be as simple as journalists leaving an open ended question to users once a week, but it’s a small investment that your newsroom has to make to develop a strong, loyal community that brings business value.

4) Once you’ve collected data, put it to use

Identifying interests, propensities, etc is great, but this needs to circle back to improve the experience offered to users. Even personalizing a user’s home screen or content recommendations can have a big impact on engagement and revenue.

5) Moderation is crucial

Investing in a solution, whether AI or human, is the only way to ensure that your community is moderated enough to keep control whilst also allowing for free reign.

Mark recommends creating community guidelines and finding a solution that allows you to ban someone entirely, ghost ban someone (the user doesn’t know they’re banned – they can still comment, but no one else will see it) or even give some community members moderation status, gaining value from these users and increasing their loyalty as they feel more involved in the community.

Thank you to Mark Zohar, President and CEO at Viafoura, for speaking to me about this topic!

This article was originally published by The Audiencers. The Audiencers is a B2B publication by Poool, The Membership and Subscription Suite, a simple, all-in-one platform for digital content producers to convert, manage and retain their members and subscribers. Find out more on or book a free demo with their team.

From anonymous to first-party: How to turn visitors into registered users and subscribers

It’s an age-old problem for publishers. How do you get casual readers to become loyal subscribers? Let’s first consider how publications strayed from reader engagement to understand the answer to this question. Fastener interviewed Mark Zohar at Viafoura to learn more about the history of audience engagement in digital publishing.

The Outsourcing Stop-gap

Before the internet, the number of publications remained constrained by labor and paper costs, forcing subscriptions on a local level and limiting competition. Yahoo opened the web in 1995, and in 2004, Web 2.0, followed by smartphones in 2007, delivered instant gratification, community and interactivity online. Shortly thereafter, web publications began to outsource their customer service, feedback and commenting abilities, allowing third parties to determine their fate, popularity and ultimately their content through clicks, likes, reviews, tweets and TikToks.

Publishers began validating vanity interactions rather than synergy with their readers. At the time, this was logical. Bots, spam and guerilla postings by malcontents required constant monitoring. Customer Management Systems (CMS) were expensive and required teams of marketing and tech experts to administer. Social media was free (sort of — publishers paid by relinquishing control, privacy and data) and increasingly the preferred method of communication between the business world and its customers. The time and cost of managing engagement, “who needs it!” proffered conventional wisdom.

Opportunity Cost

The cost of relying on third parties — the loss of business and customer intelligence, control and interaction — became apparent as time passed. Third parties, including social media, understood more about an organization’s customers than they did. After all, these outside entities communicated with their customers, collected data, directed them, entertained, and serviced them. These entities engaged and profited from the publisher’s work.

Consider the following facts:

  • Engaged visitors stay longer, go deeper and generate 4x more advertising opportunities.
  • They are 2x more likely to click on an ad.
  • Viafoura’s engaged users are 51x more likely to register.
  • And registered visitors are 45x more likely to subscribe than casual visitors to your digital properties.

Publishers that engage their readers monetize their properties. Engaging digitally means communication, and communication begins with taking power back to parlay and maintaining control of the wealth of first-party data each exchange produces.

Because publishers outsourced engagement, the vast majority of their visitors remained anonymous, with only a minute percentage registering or subscribing. Publishers continued living in the eighties but are trying to do business in the twenty-twenties, relying on third-party research to understand their readers.

How anonymous users become subscribers

Leading readers through the subscriber journey is relatively painless with the right tools. The Viafoura Digital Experience Platform (DXP) provides the interactivity and immediacy of social media while maintaining control on the publisher’s property of the data, opportunities and experience.

Viafoura’s DXP anonymous-to-subscriber strategy involves four levels: Engagement Suite, Personalization, Moderation, and Data.

Engagement suite

Creating loyal subscribers from anonymous readers begins with on-site engagement on publishers’ owned and operated digital properties. Readers who feel listened to return more often and dive deeper into your publication. Viafoura deploys various solutions to make readers feel at home, including social sharing, chat, Q&As and conversations. And then there is the ultimate VIP ticket, the live blogging platform coupled with Viafoura’s Conversations. Together or solo, each creates an immersive experience between a publication and its reader community, resulting in an average 600 percent lift in subscriptions.


Nobody wants to be an unknown number when engaging with a publication. Therefore, personalization is the next step in making anonymous readers cherished subscribers. Personalization includes capturing and using more than a person’s name. It means having options that craft an experience unique to each reader, including alerts, notifications, follow options, recommendations, and curated feeds. Readers feel like family when content is personalized to their needs, likes and wants. It is a mesmerizing experience that keeps them coming back. Viafoura’s DPX puts personalization under the publisher’s control.


Without comment moderation, the trolls take over, and suddenly a pleasant interaction becomes a toxic mix of vitriol, hurting the publication and the user experience. On average, a publisher will lose 80 percent of its anonymous readers due to a hostile environment. However, well-moderated engagement increases registrations and subscriptions by an average of 400 percent within six months. Viafoura’s DXP uses multiple strategies to streamline moderation and reduce the number of people needed to keep it going by customizing parameters to each publication’s policies across all properties and social media. Artificial intelligence combined with human expertise and easy-to-read dashboards take on the trolls and temper the tantrums to ensure engagement on its client’s publications remains civil, pleasurable and informative.


Data is worth more than gold in the digital world. It determines content, direction, strategy, partners, advertising, marketing, corporate expenditures, budgets, pricing, new products and investments—data is behind every informed decision. Yet many publishers give away their primary data by outsourcing engagement. Controlling all aspects of the publishing ecosystem delivers unprecedented intelligence that allows a publication to improve its content, better service its readers and strategically plan for the future. Viafoura’s DXP delivers far more than the 83 average metrics. Its digital engagement platform provides over 200 data points, vital information that elevates customer experience, value, and loyalty, which translates to subscribers.


Viafoura’s unique approach boosts on-site engagement, increasing user registrations and subscriptions. Additionally, it produces internet gold, the ultra-valuable first-party data that creates unique personas and insights exclusive to the publication. Detailed information permits publishers to fine-tune their content, increasing its value to their readers while simultaneously lifting advertising revenues and engagement. Happy readers become loyal readers. Loyal readers become subscribers—leading us back to the original question. How do digital publishers turn visitors into registered users and subscribers while improving their publications? They invest in engagement tools, and Viafoura’s DXP is the leader.

Publimetro – engaging and growing new levels of community with Viafoura

Publimetro, Mexico, is a daily newspaper currently focused on Chile, Colombia and Mexico. It is one of several Metro World News Media Group companies that cover 14 countries, and 7 languages. Their unique and powerful content is a direct result of their specialized editors, who give their readers the best, up-to-the-minute coverage of national and international news, sports, and entertainment across multiple platforms.

Publimetro Mexico is looking to not only grow its audience, but to provide them with a personalized and engaging digital experience that will expand their time on site. Publimetro’s goal is to create an environment that will both engage and grow its communities, while enhancing its first-party data strategy. With the use of Viafoura’s full suite of services, including Conversations, Moderation, Trending Articles, Comment Counter, as well as Topic and Author Follows, Publimetro Mexico will be able to identify how users are interacting with the content as well as create new communities for those segments within its data ”.

With the active, high intent, first-party data now being collected through their engaged users, Publimetro Mexico will be able to diversify their revenue streams by building deep and valuable user segments that will drive in-line ad revenue.

“We are very excited to be expanding into Mexico and bringing secure, eclectic and profitable communities to Publimetro! We’re looking forward to converting users down the funnel and adding a new, growing layer of engagement”  says Dalia Vainer, Director Customer Experience at Viafoura.

Enhancing Your Paywall: Why You Need a Conversion Strategy

In order to run a profitable media company, publishers know that audience engagement must be monetized. But relying on social media for advertising just isn’t cutting it anymore.

With social media’s unpredictable algorithm changes blocking your content from being seen and its loss of audience trust, it’s time to generate money from your community on your own platforms. And that’s where paywalls come in.

The Value of a Paywall

Nowadays, paywalls are becoming an important ingredient in a news publisher’s recipe for success. Not only do they attach value to your content, but they are also able to manage your subscribers and collect payments on your behalf.

When clients invest in industry publication subscriptions, it serves as a tangible reminder that the publications… offer quantifiable value,” reads a Forbes article. “It’s content that matters to people — to the point that people are willing to pay for it. This serves as a reminder to your client that your services are worth the price.”

While some may argue that paywalls threaten to repel readers who aren’t willing to pay for your content, it’s a risk that many publishers find worth taking. In fact, readers who are willing to subscribe offer your business significantly more value than those who aren’t.

This past year, HuffPost chose to stop focusing on uninterested readers and, instead, assessed and grew its loyal reader base since 60% of their page views came from just 6% of visitors.

If you have great content and dedicated readers, the decision to take on a paywall may be an obvious one.

However, the power of your paywall can be greatly enhanced by supporting it with a winning conversion strategy.

Amplify the Effects of your Paywall

Readers will pay for quality content that they can relate to. Publications like The New York Times and The Times have shown us this.

But a truly powerful subscription management system relies on support from a community growth and engagement system.

According to the Shorenstein Center and Lenfest Institute, only nine percent of a publisher’s readers view over five articles per month. Their white paper states that “news organizations with larger-than-average “regular readership” – engaging that critical nine percent of audiences – tended to prioritize audience engagement efforts.”

And what better way to grow that number of regular readers than by engaging more of your audience? Applying community engagement technology to your platform will boost a user’s return frequency, session depth and total attention time, helping to drive more subscriptions.

Which is why it’s important to take the time to find a partner who not only boosts user engagement, but who will also work with your paywall provider to optimize your platform for subscriptions. 

Learn how to create real conversations and drive audience engagement to your organization’s publications with this Webinar: How CBC Creates Real Conversations Below the Fold

The Ultimate Conversion Strategy

A truly great conversion strategy marries your paywall and engagement tools together.

In this sense, a community engagement partner can track onsite audience behavior, grow your regular readers and alert your paywall when each user is interested enough to subscribe. Engage your audience. Understand them. And then use that knowledge to build a loyal, paying community.

“Using a mix of editorial and algorithm-based selections, [The Toronto Star] hard locks five to seven articles per day, typically more in-depth pieces driving strong traffic and engagement, to push more visitors toward the paywall and, eventually, the subscription process,” states a recent report by the Local Media Association.

Your engagement and paywall service providers should be able to help you develop and deploy a targeted conversion strategy, specific to the behavior of your readers. More specifically, as users become engaged with your content, your community engagement tools should be able to feed your subscription-ready users right to your paywall. Which means more subscription revenue for you.

Your Churn-Reducing Solution

Another great reason to own a conversion strategy between your engagement and subscription management systems is that you can boost onsite subscriptions and reduce churn, all at the same time. As your engagement tools build your community and track its behavior, your software provider can signal your paywall when a community member becomes disengaged with your brand, and is likely to churn.

Businesses can then send these users special incentives or content to keep them from unsubscribing.

Say goodbye to inefficiency and hello to an abundance of subscription revenue.

Interested in learning more about boosting revenue through subscription management and user engagement? Attend our workshop at ONA19 for a chance to win $500.

Viafoura Automated Moderation Changes the Game for Community Moderation

Don’t Sacrifice the Flowers for the Weeds Have you ever had the pleasure of digging through the comments that pollute the web? If you have…

Last updated June 14th, 2018

Don't sacrifice the flowers for the weeds

Have you ever had the pleasure of digging through the comments that pollute the web? If you have, then you are no stranger to the spam and hostility that overwhelm the comment boxes that are a huge effort for teams to manage.

While spamming and trolling are challenges faced by many organizations, top media companies and brands know that community is everything, and that it’s crucial to be able to listen to and engage with customers online in real time. Unfortunately, that means constantly sifting through the many hateful comments in order to nurture a healthy online community.

Community Growth

It’s not just frontline digital teams that want to foster a healthy online environment – it’s important to their audiences and customers as well. In fact, when the quality of conversations increases, so does their audience’s engagement.

Increase in comments per user
Increase in replies per user
Increase in likes per user
Increase in likes per comment

*Analyzed data gathered from 600+ media organizations, compiled both before and after the introduction of Viafoura Automated Moderation.

Cutting Through the Noise

With smart technologies like Viafoura Automated Moderation, content producers can manage, moderate and listen to their communities, with the protection of pre-moderation in real time.

Automated Moderation automatically eliminates up to 90% of the time and effort spent moderating communities, analyzing comments and responding to customers.

How does it work? Our team of linguists teamed up with our engineers to build an engine that automatically looks for patterns in language. It determines the topic, how the person felt when they wrote it, and also its context. They did this by programming every 6.5 million variation of each word in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French, with more on the horizon.

This engine is then used to moderate and listen across all owned and third-party social networks to manage engagement, provide insights into urgent customer complaints, and display data and insights in one dashboard. It immediately removes comments outside of your community guidelines and sends suspect comments to a queue for resolution in real time.
That means that community managers don’t need to spend their resources looking over each comment or manually monitoring social networks. When a moderator logs in, they can easily review what needs their attention, focusing quickly on issues that really matter. By cutting through the clutter and allowing the most important comments to get addressed in real time, it allows you to deliver the best customer experience.

Creating Meaningful Relationships

By flagging and removing inappropriate comments, Viafoura Automated Moderation allows authors, community managers and social media managers to spend their time addressing important inquiries quickly and creating meaningful conversations with their audiences.
And when your teams are empowered to engage with audiences in a timely and meaningful way, it leads to the best customer experience, higher engagement and ultimately a higher lifetime value for each customer.

Interested in learning more?

Connect with us today to learn how Viafoura can help you build, manage and monetize your audience.

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