Given the plethora of solutions available, publishers are seeking the best tools to help monetize their audience beyond display advertising. Yet, even as data becomes pervasive, it is also more highly scrutinized than ever before amid growing privacy concerns. The challenge for publishers is to find the right mix of monetization without risking audience exploitation.
In working to strike this balance, many publishers fall into traps that leave advertisers, audiences and themselves unsatisfied. It’s easy to see why: the market keeps exploding with new technologies and new opportunities. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, yet another evolution blows your model out of the water.
To help bring clarity to the constantly-churning sea of digital media, let’s examine—and dispel—some of the most common myths that, once shed, can help publishers achieve this critical balance without alienating audience or buyers.
MYTH: A publisher must choose between an ad-based model or a paywall and risk alienating a large part of the audience.
FACT: A hybrid model may be more effective than the all-or-nothing approach. For many publishers, a tiered system of content may satisfy the needs of both audiences and buyers. For example, offer a limited amount of content for free (ad-driven) with full (ad-free) access available on a subscription basis. Another alternative is to impose a 30-second or one minute commercial on site visitors in order to access free content. This ensures a captive audience for advertisers that can generate a healthy revenue stream to meet audiences’ demands for quality content.
MYTH: A publisher must manage its monetization efforts in-house and risk sacrificing good content in order to make money. With so many options available, from direct paid display placement to ad networks, exchanges and yield optimization technologies, it can easily become overwhelming and result in a piecemeal, fragmented approach.
FACT: Generating revenue and building a brand need not be mutually exclusive. It is entirely possible to create a smart monetization strategy by outsourcing the revenue generation in order to focus on the primary goal of creating great content in house. By partnering with reputable service providers that specialize in areas that best suit the established needs, publishers stand a much better chance of successfully monetizing content in a more cohesive, strategic manner. However, the partners must be willing to work together toward a common goal, so it’s important that this factor be part of the selection process. Once the partners are in place, the publisher must clearly communicate these goals in quantifiable, measurable terms.
MYTH: Audiences are very concerned about data collection, hence the need to reign in data companies’ use of audiences’ data.
FACT: Much of the privacy clamor is a self-fulfilling prophecy: Because the industry is making a fuss about the issue, some members of the public believe they have reason to be concerned. Certainly, there are good reasons to reign in data collection and usage before it gets out of hand. However, the biggest part of the problem is that consumers don’t understand what kinds of data are being collected, why and how it’s being used. We as an industry must educate audiences that web-based data collection is completely anonymous and actually benefits them by ensuring the delivery of more relevant, valuable content. In addition, there are increasingly widespread opt-out practices available to your users currently at the discretion of the brands and/or ad networks.
Alysson Wesner is director of publisher development at TRAFFIQ.