3 Ways Publishers Can Drive Ad Revenue Growth with Digital Messaging

Sep 28, 2016

Article ImageEven as global readership rate increase across the digital news sector, UK publishers are struggling to adapt to the industry's shift from print to online media: PwC's latest Entertainment and Media report covering 2013-2017 projects that the UK's B2B publishers, newspapers, and consumer magazines will see a net fall in revenues over the next four years. Key to the problem is the fact that publishers are still struggling to make the most of their advertising arms. With 22%  of UK adults now using ad blocking software, revenue losses from ad blocking are expected to reach £1.3 billion in the U.K. by 2020. As a result, native content is proving to be a smarter way for publishers to replace print ad revenue than banner ads and popups.

But charging premium rates for native content is a challenge: native ads (articles, videos, infographics, or other content items created or co-created by advertisers) only deliver value to advertisers if publishers can prove they drive substantive readership, clicks, or conversions. Driving that value requires publishers to use smarter targeted engagement strategies to reach a greater proportion of their visitors to drive them towards native content. To increase ad revenue in 2016 and beyond, digital publishers can deploy new tactics to engage and monetize their visitors.

1. Mobile-First (and Use Your Real Estate Wisely)

With increased mobile device use changing visitors content consumption habits, mobile is the most important element of any publishers' strategy: On average, mobile users in the UK spend nearly two hours each day online using a smartphone. Most digital publishers have made themselves accessible to mobile users and have mastered the delivery of attractive, image-driven, fast-loading user experiences. However, many publishers have essentially stopped their mobile-first strategies there. Digital messaging can make mobile real estate more impactful - giving publishers a way to monetize the mobile experience by placing native advertising in front of visitors wherever they are in the customer journey.

Digital messaging also broadens the reach of a brand's audience beyond the limitations of an app or email list. With browser push, publishers can connect to visitors on the browser: Many online publishers do not offer Android apps and they don't need to as browser push enables them to reach visitors on their browsers accounting for 82.8% of mobile web traffic.

2. Monetization and Attribution

Driving traffic to native ads is part of the overall strategy, however measuring the attribution of resulting reader interactions provides publishers with a mechanism to create premium pricing from advertisers. Two channels of increased importance are rich inboxes ("email-like" inboxes within a mobile or desktop website) and browser push functionality. With a rich inbox, there's no user "opt-in" required; every visitor can see a rich inbox with content personalized for their segment on desktop, mobile web, or inside an app - making them a high-value avenue for driving users to interact with native ads (right at the time they're most prepared to engage with the content).

On the other hand, browser push functionality does require user opt-in; but those who opt-in receive notifications via desktop or mobile even when they're off the publisher's site. This extends publishers' relationships with visitors (and those visitors relationships with native ads) beyond the time the visitor intended to spend on the site and crucially provides a mechanism for the visitor to habitually return to the site when notified.

3. Make Segmentation More Sophisticated

With more comprehensive digital messaging, publishers can segment their user groups in a more targeted way--enabling visitors to receive native content based on criteria such as the depth of engagement with specific content categories. That not only increases the potential for individual visitors to interact with the material, it also provides greater insight into what message types and ad strategies are most effective: i.e., which messages created the most clicks, or which ads had the longest session read times.

That kind of intelligence enables sales teams to determine better pricing for premium content while helping marketers refine the value of their marketing spend. Digital messaging can be a two-way street for data collection and visitor insight on mobile: Publishers can acquire high-value intel on what messages visitors (do and don't) engage with, use that information to provide them custom content, and deliver better and more targeted information to loyal visitors over time.