Arguably, publishing is quickly heading toward digital dominance. Strategies for the migration are way past overdue. However, some of the strategies that ruled print media are being abandoned for digital media, and that’s a mistake. It still should be about reaching the right customer at the right time with the right message. With digital marketing and the data it generates, publishers can be more accurate about the right time and message. Publishers can use customer information to improve their content and sales quality. Here are four ways to improve yours.
1. Analyze and Optimize Premium Inventory: Digital publishers spend too much time worrying about the valuation of their remnant inventory, who sells it, and who gets a cut of it. Remnant inventory can be just as valuable as premium if you put it in perspective. You should be looking at all of your inventory holistically and assigning true values to each ad slot instead of differentiating between premium and non-premium (remnant) like we have done for the past 10 years. That means measuring the value of ad slots by content relevance, brand safety, and viewability. Learning to differentiate inventory is a complex task. “Premium” shouldn’t just be the homepage and a page with a user cookie. Learn to accurately evaluate all of your inventory based on quality, actionable information about the page—not just old-school cookie data.
2. Get Information, Get Data: The best way to value digital publishing real estate is to get the best data on who visits it, what they do when they get there, how long they stay and how your content relates to the audience and creative. In short: customer engagement. There are literally dozens of exchanges and RTB companies that will be happy to track that and store that information. But it’s the publishers who need it. It’s the publishers who don’t have it. You need customer engagement metrics to compete for the best advertisers and the highest revenue. We see a lot of great digital publishing companies with brilliant content that are not getting paid what they deserve because they don’t have enough data to prove the true worth of their inventory.
3. Ease Common Concerns for Advertisers: Quality inventory will avoid some of the pitfalls that advertisers are generally concerned with. Publishers need to make sure they automate to guard against suspicious activity. At AdSafe, for example, we can analyze and score the risk that a website is associated with suspicious activity on a 1-1,000 rating scale—specifically including click fraud, which occurs in pay-per-click online advertising when a person or program imitates a legitimate user of a Web browser; and impression fraud, which occurs in CPM advertising when a person or program imitates users by repeatedly loading a page or advertisements on a page for the purpose of generating higher fees. Buyers of online media are able to purchase inventory informed by AdSafe’s risk score, while sellers of online media are able to better manage their inventory by eliminating fraudulent activity if discovered. This also means eliminating the concern of ad collision by having the data and tools to make sure brands are on pages that aren’t crowded with other ads.
4. Redesign for Viewability: Like the doctor said when you got your first tetanus shot: “This is gonna hurt a little bit.” And it will. But many publishers will need to optimize yield only after they reposition their content and ad positions to be viewable and valuable. Currently several industry organizations are working on viewability standards. If an ad is not in view when the page loads, or never comes into view during a user session, basically, a publisher isn’t going to get paid for it. That pushes premium positions toward the top of the page. It will probably reduce a publisher’s viable amount of inventory. And as stated, it means you will need to charge more for each ad.
In the end, the goal is to meet brand goals and objectives, whether they center on sales, marketing ROI, awareness, brand lift, or conversions. If publishers bring data quality back into balance with quantity, publishers will be well positioned.