Responsive Metering: The Monetization Elephant In The Room

02 Oct 2017 | By Nate Soffio Jr.

The Digiday Publishing Summit in Key Biscane, Florida, the last week of September was marked by a number key themes: video, programmatic, subscriptions & revenue streams. And the big, obvious one: the future of content monetization.

We are in an age of both hard and soft/porous paywalls. We’ve seen this to great effect across the industry, yet there remains a lot of hand-wringing over the same issue: how well I know my anonymous readers (upwards of 80%) affects the bottom line because conversion is only as good as defining the right audience, right CTA, and the right content offer. This is a data fidelity problem. It is a manifestation of the engineering catchphrase garbage-in-garbage-out.

What do I mean when I say fidelity? Practical examples of low fidelity - high fidelity:

  • 8-bit video games vs 4k TV
  • Crayons vs. ball-point pens
  • Machetes vs scalpels

Based on a number of different keynotes and discussions, it’s apparent that most anonymous visitors are too hard to target with sufficient data fidelity to execute sophisticated content & commercial yield models. While offline data integration has progressed, there remains a blind spot in understanding on-site contextual preferences — not just categories, but topics, keywords, co-occurrence and other fuzzier qualities.

In other words, a data shortfall can render a very blunt campaign, an ineffectual metering experience, and unhappy readers. This dovetails with something Roy Schwartz of Axios opened his presentation with: one of the most important sets of questions publishers must answer every second is 'if I’m reading, what do I want to read next? What do I need to read to do my job better? Will I pay for just what I want to read since I’ve liked the experience thus far?'

Habituating a reader to be delighted by content is instrumental, but every return visit or page view is a potential conversion point based on contextually-sensitive metering & prompts. Practically speaking, domestic politics readers are surely different from foreign politics readers, who in turn are surely different from those with an interest in NGOs. Ultimately, the magic recipe is how to deliver contextually & dispositionally best-fit metering at each one of those inflection points.

So the question then becomes: can better instantaneous, contextual first-party data drive a more precise, less adversarial metering touch point? The answer is definitely yes.


Coming up next: Don't miss Nate's next blog post from the Digiday Publishing Summit, on aspects of implementation and industry opinions in light of Big Data finally hitting the publishing world.