If you want to see the result right away instead of reading the path to it, for your convenience, please follow the link. Or watch this excerpt from Marina Krasnova's (CEO of VKontakte) presentation.
Content Day 2022
In the VKontakte news feed, the Time Spent metric (user engagement time) is of paramount importance. The more time a person spends in the feed, the more revenue the company generates from advertising. Therefore, our global objective is to increase this metric. Through research and a series of AB tests, we have concluded that there are several issues that need to be addressed in order to boost the Time Spent metric.
In the course of working on this task, it's also essential to consider that the platform already hosts a wide variety of content formats, namely:
Photos, Music, Polls, Files, Products, Services, Geopoints, Clips, Videos, Articles, Albums, Stickers, Podcasts, Stories, Mini-Apps (Services), Playlists, etc.
Now that you have this information, we can move on to the next part, specifically, the problems that have been identified.
Various Content Formats
The issue here is that due to the variety of content formats present in the feed, there is a problem where users may post extremely tall posts that take up 2-3 scrolls in the news feed and attract more attention. When viewing such a post, a user may simply get bored and leave. Many communities took advantage of this and could literally create enormous posts to grab attention, diverting it from other authors. This scenario was simply unfair to everyone, as reach should not depend on the size of the post.
This can be understood by considering a situation where one author gathers an audience through text content, while another does so through photos. If the second author posts extremely tall photos, they will undoubtedly receive more reach than an author who, for example, writes poetry.
The next issue was that each format, in most cases, significantly differed in visual composition and could occupy varying heights, which also had a negative impact on reach. For example, below you can see how much attachments lose out in comparison to playlists.
VKontakte is a large organization where each product is managed by a sizable team. In brief, for each attachment format listed here, there is an entire department responsible. Metrics are also crucial for each of them, so within their respective products, it's essential for them to ensure that after changing their attachments, metrics not only do not decrease but also increase.
In addition to this, all solutions must be suitable for all platforms because we follow an approach in which the entire VKontakte product should have a unified appearance on all platforms: Android, iOS, Web, and mVK (mobile version).
<aside> 👉 The task, to put it mildly, is not an easy one, but solving challenging tasks is like a trial for me!
The most challenging problem, as it often happens, is reaching an agreement. Naturally, each product will do everything it can to distinguish itself because it will boost their metrics. However, our task as the feed team is to ensure that all products have a uniform appearance and equal rights. To begin with, we gathered for a brainstorming session where we outlined the key principles to make it easier and faster for everyone to understand what we are aiming for and where we are headed.
Next, we agreed to prepare concepts for what the future news feed with attachments from each product could look like. In the end, we arrived at a unified format, namely - the concept of Primary and Secondary attachments (hereinafter referred to as this abbreviation). What are they, and how do they differ?
<aside> 📌 There is a fixed proportion Primary attachment, which has three display formats: square, horizontal, and vertical.