Commentary

How Publishers Can Boost Revenue Without Intrusive Ads

Publishers plotting a growth strategy as advertisers look for ways to put media dollars to work during the second half of the year have a significant incentive to hone their digital strategies. Those efforts include ways to boost monetization, while also improving the reader experience.
Publishers can boost bids for programmatic ad placements by opening their inventories to more ad networkers, James Laver, a strategic partnerships manager at publishing platform Marfeel, said last week in a webinar hosted by the International News Media Association (INMA), as summarized by editor Shelley Seale.
Slightly more than half of publishers work with two to five ad networks, limiting the possibilities to boost demand for their inventory, Laver said. Publishers can increase their CPMs by about 60% by doubling the number of bidders for placements.
Publishers also need to consider how quickly their websites and accompanying ads are delivered to smartphone screens to avoid higher bounce rates, or the portion of visitors who abandon a site because it's too slow.
The major drawback is when a web page loads quickly, while the ad doesn't, leaving white space on the screen.

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The best way to avoid that is to ensure the first ad impression loads quickly with the content, as a 10% increase in ad viewability drives a 15% gain in CPM, according to Marfeel's analysis.

The webinar included a case study with DMG Media Ireland, which had experienced strong growth for its Extra.ie news site with a strategy focused on distributing content through Facebook. But as many publishers know, the social network's changes to its news feed algorithm led to declines in page views and users, Desmond Farrelly, head of audience and insights at DMG Media, said.
The publisher developed a new strategy to monetize its content and up readership. The strategy included cutting the number of ads that appeared on web pages in half, making them less intrusive. The improved user experience helped to drive greater gains in revenue, while propelling readership in Ireland and worldwide.
DMG also audited Extra's site to determine which stories were most engaging — and developed a content strategy called "FLIP," which stands for "first or fast, local, interesting and popular." The strategy led to a 164% gain in its audience in the following year, Farrelly said.
The FLIP strategy may seem obvious, but it does demonstrate the importance of creating distinctive content and forming a brand identity around it. The lessons of Extra's strategy are that publishers need to cultivate their editorial strengths and focus on improving the user experience to drive readership and revenue growth.
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