Case Study: How Airbnb and Flipboard Teamed Up to Introduce Experiences


We recently concluded a successful month long co-promotion with Airbnb. The concept was simple: Open the all-new Flipboard, explore and ”Heart” stories featuring Airbnb Experiences — and you’d be automatically entered to win a free Airbnb trip. We also gave away additional prizes to readers, each day. All they had to do was read and ”Heart” any story on Flipboard for a chance to win.

In this post I’ll go behind the scenes to reveal how the co-promotion came to be, the approach we took and the terrific results that followed.

In The Beginning There Was Brand Fit

Our partnership was rooted in a natural brand, audience and content fit. As a result, nothing about the co-promotion felt forced or gimmicky and it gave us a foundation to drive genuine engagement.

Both brands are centered around passions. With the all-new app we launched recently, now more than ever Flipboard allows readers a way to follow all their passions in one place. They can dive deep and be immersed in the best content curated by influencers, enthusiasts and the best publishers in the world. For example, if you’re into mountain biking, like I am, you can read, connect and share with thousands of other passionate mountain bikers.

Similarly, Airbnb recently launched Trips, with local experiences led by passionate hosts. Now travelers can book activities curated by experts and together share their passion. For example, learn how to create the perfect cocktail with a mixologist in Los Angeles or create street art with an international artist in Tokyo.

Airbnb has developed amazing content around each host, with beautiful vertical videos and photo galleries. All of it’s mobile optimized and perfect for the Flipboard audience, who are voracious consumers of engaging content.

You Scratch My Back

As with any good partnership, we set out to create a win-win program. Airbnb was looking to reach a qualified audience and create awareness around Experiences. At Flipboard, we were looking to create meaningful engagement for current readers, while giving people who had not used the app in a while an incentive to check out the service again.

The Campaign In A Nutshell

Together with Airbnb we came up with an integrated campaign for the U.S. to drive traffic to Flipboard: We utilized everything from targeted emails and push notifications to social, display and video ads both on and off Flipboard. We also targeted prospects with an immersive microsite, which we created using Ceros, an easy-to-use interactive content platform that allows marketers to create sophisticated landing pages on the fly without the need for engineering resources.

When readers came from the campaign to the Flipboard app or website they landed in beautiful Airbnb Experience Magazines made up entirely of immersive Storyboards, a content unit that elegantly stitches together image galleries, articles and video.

We created 36 Experience Storyboards grouped into four city magazines. Each Storyboard included a tappable image poster, a vertical video and a photo gallery. Readers were encouraged to explore and Heart their favorite Experiences, and we made it easy for them to go to Airbnb’s website, in case they wanted to learn more or even book an Experience.

The Net-Net

In total the media campaign delivered more than 39M targeted campaign impressions, reaching existing and past readers as well as new prospects.

The ads on Flipboard driving to the Experience Magazines far exceeded our expectations. The month-long ad campaign earned a 3.3% CTR; the last week of the campaign actually garnered a CTR of over 4%, with ads encouraging readers to explore both daily prizes and the grand prize. (That’s an impressive 8x the industry standard for mobile display ads.)

The magazines on Flipboard generated 4.2M Page Flips from 440K Viewers who “Hearted” Airbnb Experiences more than 69K times. Additionally, Followers of the Airbnb Profile on Flipboard went from 0 to 29K, creating a foundation for future content-marketing initiatives. The campaign also drove some 38K visits to — a robust 9% CTR of the total Viewers.

Everyone’s Happy?

Throughout the month, readers left comments on the Experiences, with an overwhelmingly positive sentiment. Here are just a few:

“Such wonderful memories of San Francisco from many years back. The redwoods are one of my relaxation visions! I would so love to Airbnb there!”

Lin Murwin, San Francisco Experiences Magazine

“I have never been to Miami, but I could only imagine the beauty in the streets between the cultures and the variant of colors, I bet this would be amazing!”

Sarah Braden Booth, Miami Experiences Magazine

“I’d love to see this place. It’s my dream to see Los Angeles it’s so beautiful. Please take me there…”

Monica Torres, Los Angeles Experiences Magazine

“I would love to experience the soul of Detroit with my daughter.”

Catherine Wabsis, Detroit Experiences Magazine

At the end, after having drawn daily winners for a month, we surprised Caitrin Garrett of Vermont with the grand prize. Check out the video to see her reaction. Caitrin is still deciding where she wants to go, but one thing is for sure, it involves a visit to the beach.

Beyond the Co-Promotion

With the co-promotion as the focal point, we’ve already explored other areas where we can work together. Last November, we participated at Airbnb Open, where we educated Airbnb hosts about how they can engage and support/service their guests with Flipboard magazines. We also had a chance to interview some of them for our Inside Flipboard blog and we created buzz with our famous Red Couch photos.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and crew on the Red Couch at Airbnb Open

Take Aways

For other marketers exploring co-marketing opportunities, the success of our campaign shows that it all starts with a great brand, audience and content fit. Because of this, we were able to realize deep engagement centered around passions and a meaningful grand prize. Additionally, we were able to scale the campaign rapidly through our shared media vehicles and keep the momentum going through daily prize giveaways.

A big thank you to Farzad Sharif from Airbnb for helping to bring the promotion to life and being a great partner.

~cenevoldsen heads performance marketing at Flipboard

This post was originally published on Medium.


My Year of Learning: Lessons in Leadership and Performance


Here’s some advice to live by: Keep learning to stay relevant. In fact, according to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, dedicate at least 5 hours a week of your own time to learning or risk becoming obsolete. Preach it Randall!

With that in mind, I want to reflect on my year of learning.

2016 was a year of change for me. After five amazing years at Texture, I was excited to get outside my comfort zone and chase a new career challenge. I had a quick 4-month stint at a startup before I landed at Flipboard mid-year, where I now lead Performance Marketing.

Here, really smart people whom I learn from on a daily basis surround me. In fact, some of my best learning in the last year has come from the leaders at Flipboard. For a quick sampling, check out these inspiring posts:

Mike McCue, CEO: The Most Powerful Lesson I’ve Learned In Business

Marci McCue, CMO: The Meaning of Open

Cecily Mak, Head of Revenue: Showing Up As A Leader

Over the last year, I’ve had two main areas of learning focus: 1) Become a better leader and 2) Perform better. Here are some of the articles I learned the most from. You can also read all the articles in my Flipboard magazine.

Striking a work-life balance

Stop touting the crazy hours you work. It helps no one.

Look, I’m all for leaning in and working crazy hours when it’s needed. I’m not for working crazy hours “just because.” I have a family and a recreational life I need (and want) to pay attention to, so I can stay sane and healthy. In fact, as this article points out, studies show that after about 50 hours of work a week, your productivity will start decreasing, and there’s no detectable difference between 56 hours and 70 or more of working.

Your Late-Night Emails Are Hurting Your Team

As a leader you set an example. If you don’t believe working crazy hours is good for your own productivity, morale and health, don’t put it on your co-workers. If they see you send an email at 9pm, the bad habit will spread. They’ll feel obligated to respond and they’ll start sending out their own urgent (not urgent) late night emails.

Just listen

How To Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

There are a lot of indications that high emotional intelligence is a great predictor of performance. So, how can you improve your EQ? Here, you learn 7 steps, starting with being aware of your own emotions and reactions, in order to become more mindful and building control. It’s deep stuff.

What Great Listeners Actually Do

I’ll admit that I like to talk. But part of improving my EQ means being self-aware and aware of others. Working on my listening skills is at the top of my list. This article goes beyond the traditional (and good) advice of not talking when others talk and letting others know you’re listening. A good listener can do much more. There are many different levels of listening and asking questions, making suggestions and creating a cooperative conversation are all tools you should utilize.

Slow it down

Just Do It Tomorrow: The Powerful Science of Putting Things Off

Oh, how I love this article. It’s saying it’s ok to procrastinate. Better yet, by putting stuff off, you’ll be more productive. What? Makes sense when you think about it. How often have you had to rush to meet a ridiculous deadline, just to realize after the fact that your work is filled with errors? Do over! By slowing things down (a little bit) you activate a different part of your brain and deliver better results.

Slow Deciders Make Better Strategists

There are four different styles of decision making evolving around your level of confidence in a decision and your speed of making the decision. The main take away is that if you have the mindset to take it slow and be skeptical, you’ll be a better decision maker. It’s a fascinating read.

Running effective meetings

6 Reasons to Get Better at Leading Meetings

You’re in meetings all day. As a leader you have the opportunity to make each and every one of them matter. If you do, as this great article points out, you matter.

A Simple Rule to Eliminate Useless Meetings

I’ve read plenty of articles on how to run good meetings, and I still have plenty of bad habits. When I need a refresher, I always come back to CEO at LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner’s advice, including sending out reading material in advance of the meeting, define clear objectives, assign a note taker and summarize key action items, deliverables, and points of accountability.

Brainstorming Is Dumb

Turns out brainstorming is a terrible technique to generate good ideas. A better way is a technique called brainwriting. I remember reading this article and trying out the technique a week later. Lo and behold, the results were great. We’ll be executing an idea from that meeting at Flipboard soon!

Get stuff done

Six Simple Sunday Habits To Set You Up For A Productive Week

This is a tough one. It’s Sunday, and I really just want to do nothing. But every time I follow the advice here, the difference in my week is significant. Forcing myself to steal a quick hour to get organized and anticipate the week ahead is key. (Just don’t send your co-workers any emails till Monday).

We Tested 7 Top Productivity Methods So You Don’t Have To

When I’m getting lost in my smartphone for the tenth time, I know it’s time to make a change. My friends at Blinkist road-tested these seven classic methods, and I’ve picked up on a couple of them, if not literally, at least in my mindset. I strive to Eat that Frog, and I try to adhere to my Pomodori schedule. Turning off email and silencing my phone helps.

Do You Listen to Music While Working? Here’s What It Does to Your Brain (and It’s Pretty Awesome)

Being in an open work space has its challenges. It’s noisy and there are plenty of distractions. Putting your headphones on signals that you don’t want to be disturbed. But what’s coming out of your headphones matter. This guide tells you what to listen to and why. Fascinating.

Now, what should be my learning focus this year? Maybe I should learn more about micro-dosing to up my productivity game? Or… maybe not. I’m open for suggestions, so if you have any, please share.

This post was originally published on Medium.

A how-to guide for digital publishing in a multi-screen world

Living in a multi-screen world-1

Recently, I was invited to speak at a conference for business journal publishers faced with a challenge all too familiar for print publications: How do we adapt and stay relevant in an ever-increasing digital world?

As part of the presentation, I laid out a framework to help shape publishers’ digital content strategy in a multi-screen world. I will go through the framework (Content TEPP) further down in this post.

Check out my full presentation here:

The digital revolution is inevitable. There is no turning back. The rise of smartphones, tablets, connected devices and the pervasiveness of social media means print will continue to decline. That doesn’t mean print will die (in fact, print is somewhat experiencing a come-back), but its importance and purpose will certainly change. Print will not be the end-all but one of many “screens.”

Depending on whom you address the digital revolution is either already here, or it’s fast approaching. And that’s the main challenge; we have two audiences to serve:

  1. The Digital Immigrants: The current audience of baby boomers currently enjoying a printed product but slowly getting used to the digital world
  2. The Digital Natives. (Hopefully) the future audience of young Gen X and Millenials who have never picked up a newspaper and instead grew up connected to the world via the Internet.

These two audiences consume media differently and they have different motivations and interests. Porting over your print content and “experience” to digital might work as an interim “migration strategy”, but it won’t cut it as a long term strategy attracting a new audience.

(For more details on this topic, check out Earl Wilkinson’s blog, where he, based on my presentation, muses over the differences between Natives and Immigrants)

Content TEPP: A digital content framework for a multi-screen world

With the Natives and Immigrants in mind and the realization that media consumption behaviors have changed, here’s a digital content framework for a multi-screen world:

digital publishing content framework


Deciding on what type of content to produce is the most important part of your strategy. Of course. Forget mobile, forget digital and print. Your job is to deliver valuable content to your target audience, regardless of channel. Are the interests of Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives the same? Can your current content attract a new audience with vastly different interests? And how do you attract a new audience with new content without alienating your current audience?


Considering all the different screens, we need to understand the situation and context of our users. Then deliver and optimize content accordingly. It’s very different to sit down with a printed product and leaning back with a cup of coffee in the morning as compared to sitting on a bus with your smartphone and five minutes to spare.

multi-screen consumption by day part


Digital Natives want the right content at the right time. At their pace and on their schedule. Think about how many times you check your digital devices every day. Digital metabolism is much higher than print. The expectation is you’ll be updated, informed and entertained every time, whether you have five minutes or an hour to spare.


Considering the Type, Enviroment and Pace, how do we package it all up for different screens while taking advantage of new digital tools not available in the analog world? Does the way we deliver content live up to the very high expectations of Digital Natives?

For a deeper dive, check out the case studies on Forbes, Yahoo News Digest and more in my presentation and learn how the Content TEPP framework applies in real-life.

New app Yahoo News Digest mimics newspapers – good or bad?

Yahoo News Direct

Yahoo launched a sleek new app yesterday that swims against the stream. Yahoo News Digest is a news app that curates, summarizes and neatly packages the top seven stories of the day. Well, twice a day. There’s a distinct morning edition and evening edition, and in between there’s a countdown timer that lets you know when the next edition goes live. A curated finite experience with a start and an end. Just like in the good old days of newspapers.

The result is stunning from both a design and content perspective. The app is slick, intuitive and pretty to look at. The stories include a nice summary, videos, twitter feeds, links to Wiki and other sources. It’s really a nice experience.

I’m a big believer in curation and giving the user a sense of closure versus the endless stream of content we are bombarded with on a daily basis. It’s satisfying to know you have finished something. We tried to do the same thing with the OC Register’s iPad app, where we focused on one finite evening edition. (That app has since been shut down, when new ownership came in.)

Another attempt to mimic the cadence of newspapers came from The Evening Edition, a project headed up by Miranda Mulligan, known among other things for her great design work at the Boston Globe. I just checked, and The Evening Edition appears to just have ended its run on Dec 31, 2013, so apparently that didn’t work out. So why is that?

What I’m a bit perplexed about with Yahoo News Digest, as I was for The Evening Edition, is why the artificial deadline for the morning and evening edition? For news, which is largely commodity, in a digital age where the metabolism is extremely high, people want the news on their schedule (five minutes in the bathroom, 10 minutes break in the afternoon, 30 minutes after dinner.) Why do they have to conform to an artificial deadline? For the OC Register, we felt our situation was different, because we were providing unique, local content.

Yahoo News Direct timer

Today’s lead story is about former Pentagon chief Robert Gates’ criticism of Obama over Afghanistan, and the package is neat. But it’s yesterday’s news. The biggest story of this morning is instead Chris Christie’s apparent ties to the traffic jam scandal in Fort Lee, but that’s nowhere to be found in Yahoo News Digest. Presumably it will be in the evening edition later today, but I’ll have to wait five hours to get it.

Well established news brands curate stories every day. Yahoo News Digest does too. The difference is Yahoo News Digest is sleek, includes great extras and it deliberately emphasizes the end. Other brands should and could learn from that. Then we’ll see if people are willing to wait for it.