Three Hot Trends That Help Publishers Monetize

30 May 2016 | By Tobias Arns



Many publishers have woken up to the reality that they’ve been giving away their hard-earned data. And now lots of them plan to change that: Wresting the reins from third parties, better monetizing their data, and listening carefully to what their readers want.


3 ways to put your own data to work

Making any of those goals a reality, however, means learning how to mine a publisher’s site visitor data so it can be used to the publisher’s own best advantage.

Technology solutions, such as Data Management Platforms (DMPs), that automatically gather and analyze site visitor data on behalf of the publisher are important tools in pushing publishers to higher profits. Within that realm, some hot up-and-coming trends and capabilities – including personalization, native advertising, and eye-catching 3D effects – will keep visitors more engaged and on sites longer, consuming more content, subscribing, and buying more.

Here’s how these capabilities work and their benefits:

  • Personalization: Uses data gathered in real time and over time about each site visitor and guides the appropriate content to that visitor – all without invading the user’s privacy. By showing the content that most interests a visitor, along with relevant ad content, visitors remain far more engaged and interested. Importantly, one of the most critical aspects of personalization is knowing where readers want information delivered – mobile is clearly becoming the de facto platform for news consumption. It also means understanding who the readers are so they are delivered fresh content if they access the site from another device.

With newspapers, for instance, personalization not only means pushing local soccer team results and upcoming game schedules to a reader who’s expressed interest in those articles in the past. It also means ensuring content serendipity, and that the individual user is kept up-to-date with what is new and trending. In fact, understanding and knowing who is interested in local events, politics, and the like – and assuring advertisers that they can push the appropriate content to the right readers at the right time — is one way small, independent newspapers will be able to succeed in a world of 24-hour news cycles.

  • Targeted native ads: It is well known that this method of advertising combines form with function, offering information relative to the reader’s experience and matching ads with the design of the publication’s editorial content and layout.

The value-add for native content is that it, too, can be highly targeted, based on a user’s specific interests and context. If a reader is perusing information on the Great Pyramids, a native ad pushing the latest release by Katie Perry would be less relevant than a native ad about the travel experiences of a Nile river cruise customer, for instance.

The beauty of native ads is that by their very design they are meant to feel less “in your face,” which increases reader engagement, including click rates. Trends also show that native ads tend to perform even better on mobile than desktop, making them a tremendous opportunity for publishers looking to capture the ever-growing mobile audience.

Leading news sites – The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time Inc., USA Today, and others, not to mention global social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – regularly serve up native ad content, regardless of the platform used to access the sites. Typical formats include content recommendation widgets, promoted listings in search, in-feed advertising, advertorials and custom content units. The key to success, though, is serving the right native ads to the right user at the right time.

  • 3D ad effects: This is a relatively new capability. Brands can create the illusion of 3D banners within regular online content formats, and without any special 3D glasses or equipment. As the user scrolls down a page, an ad showing, e.g., a car will shift and move so it can be viewed from different angles. The effect can be subtle, aiming to get the viewer to pause and scroll back for a second look, no matter the device. Once there, the user can engage with the ad at will.

The benefit of using 3D is that it combats a challenge that publishers and advertisers have faced for years: “Banner blindness” – the phenomenon whereby consumers largely ignore online display ads or find them irrelevant. 3D advertising provides a unique means for creating and displaying online content, offering differentiation for premium advertisers and e-commerce sites. Initial results show that 3D enhances consumers’ shopping experience and drives much higher levels of engagement.

The 3D advertising concept is gaining significant interest in the industry. Whilst advertisers and publishers are starting to see significant gain from the use of data for targeting, it is also imperative to address the ‘creative aspect’ of the marketing success formula. 3D ads can be an important part of this picture, and in a survey conducted by Cxense, more than three in four publishing executives expressed interest in displaying and selling 3D ads on their sites, as long as they don’t present a hassle for the publishers or their advertisers. The inaugural campaigns run by Mazda Motors and media agency Mindshare show very encouraging results, with click-rates averaging at four times the industry standard.

With new opportunities for publisher monetization, the ability to control their own data, and hot technologies like 3D advertising, we predict exciting times ahead for the publishing industry.