We’ve all seen the growing reports of fraudulent banner and video impressions, a shift to mobile consumption with declining CPMs for publishers, and the proliferation of low-quality slide show and “fake news” sites.
Throw in ad blocking to the mix, and you have a perfect recipe for disaster.
One would expect the digital publishing industry to be screaming with alarm and aggressively examining ways to overhaul their business models. There is little critical evaluation of how to improve current monetization models except for cramming in more banners, autoplay video ads and other, more intrusive advertising onto increasingly slowing web pages.
These ads all have one troubling thing in common. They are almost always passive, since users only interact with these ads less than 1% of the time on average. They are mostly ignored.
Brand lift studies show these ads generally have only a few percentage points of lift, and since their effectiveness is low, advertisers typically pay low CPMs for them.
The problem is that high-quality news reporting and content creation are expensive, so is building traffic. Therein lies the gloomy prognosis for quality content publishers.
To survive, let alone thrive, publishers need a much better way to monetize the consumption of their content. Since paid subscription models have proven to be a challenge for most sites, the only hope for success is for advertising models to become far more effective to justify more valuable website sessions.
Ads that truly and deeply engage users with a brand advertiser are critical for this to happen.
For example, ads in which users are required to view advertiser information or interact with a brand message in order to utilize aspects of a website or to receive an online service, have demonstrated a 9x to 13x improvement on traditional banners and interstitials in terms of brand lift and message recall, based on third-party brand lift studies by Wharton School of Business and first-party brand lift studies.
As a result, publishers can offer advertisers a much more effective and valuable opportunity to engage with their users. A 10x the efficacy should justify a similar increase in monetization.
Publishers need to cull the low-value, annoying passive ads and replace them with fewer, but higher value engagements to reap the full value of users viewing their content. This requires rethinking the products their sales teams are tasked with selling and shifting to higher value engagements that are immune to non-human traffic.
Publishers that are not growing their top lines should urgently retool their sales efforts accordingly.
If they continue to focus on selling commoditized low-value ads, these sales people, and their senior management, will soon be out of a job.