There is no question that in the world of BtoB media, the nature of advertising has changed. Recent reports document those changes, showing that print advertising revenues continue to decline—falling 4.3% in the first half of 2013 and now comprising only about one quarter of total revenue in the industry. Meanwhile, digital ads continue to climb—in conjunction with other revenue streams.
Everywhere you look, publishers are experimenting with a variety of digital ads and an increasing focus on Native Ads, Directories and Mobile.
But, how do you increase the value of those ads?
First and foremost, many publishers are recognizing that digital ads are one part of an effective strategy for increasing revenue. In fact, with a flexible, scalable platform and a quiver of engagement tools, you are creating an entire ecosystem of information for your readers—and all components of that ecosystem feed and support each other. Let’s look at three actions that are particularly valuable in increasing the value of your ad offerings:
Apply Audience Data
In multiple ways, Data=Monetization. But let’s place it in the context of ads. When you gather actionable data that defines your audience and enables you to segment your readers, you have something of significant value to advertisers.
When advertisers understand the following:
What individuals make up your audience;
Where they are;
What content they buy;
What they are using to access content and;
How they behave
. . . those advertisers can better target their ads to those specific segments that are of interest to them.
You are essentially showing them what types of ads will work best on your site and where. Whether they are buying more traditional ads, native ads or directory listings, they are speaking the language of your audience more fluently and in a more timely fashion, thereby increasing the likelihood of success with those ads.
Which ties (not surprisingly) into the next point:
Sell in Context
No bones about it, with actionable data, you can create context awareness. Okay, so you have that behavioral data, how do you apply it? Simply put, you present related content in the context that is most useful to your readers. When you successfully present related content, you are able to increase traffic to your site and keep your audience there longer, which translates to increased likelihood of purchases, subscriptions, or other measures of success.
In terms of ads: an ad that is based on the content a consumer is reading is more likely to catch the attention of the reader. The ad is more relevant to that reader, and chances are, that reader is much likely to respond to the overall message of the ad campaign. The bottom line is that ads that relate to the content on topic pages have a better chance of hitting their target and presenting more of those opportunities to advertisers has a positive effect on ad sales.
Cultivate Multiple Revenue Streams
That’s right. Focusing exclusively on ad revenue has proven to be well, less than fruitful, for many a contemporary publisher. That is not to say that ads have no place in your ecosystem, but in order for advertisers (and investors, for that matter) to find your business attractive, they need to see a healthy ecosystem with a balance of revenue streams—that include a diversity of ad options.
There are a few models of success in terms of diversifying your ad offerings. Slate.com, Skift and VentureBeat provide some interesting insight. And their approaches certainly support the idea of contextual selling and highly customized, targeted approaches.
But they also treat ad diversification as one component of overall revenue diversification.
Revenue diversity goes beyond the paywall and delves into the wealth of potential in your products and expertise. Think:
A more than average Buyer’s Guide
Books and DvDs
And remember that it all needs to be supported with:
A robust platform
Secure, on-site eCommerce
Responsive design (for your growing number of mobile users)
Social sharing; and
Highly engaging, related content.
Microwave Journal delivers a superb user-driven buyer’s guide.
Modern Distribution Management sells more industry data with a secure, smooth shopping cart.
Housing Wire sustains its competitive advantage with a combination of news, data and service directories.
Workforce.com provides a variety of sponsored content, downloads, whitepapers, events, webinars, videos and podcasts, rounded out with a multi-tiered vendor directory.
If you work to incorporate these three actions into your content ecosystem, there is a good chance advertisers will find your site more attractive than ever—and soon the pain of ad revenue loss will be a distant memory.