“Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Yoav Naveh, co-founder and CEO at ConvertMedia.
Publishers shouldn’t just be innovating their editorial content, but reimagining the entire user experience of their pages. Both the content and ads should work together as an entirely singular experience.
Publishers sit at the intersection where consumers and brands interact, and play a key role in the flourishing of creative ideas through the delivery of an engaging advertising experience. Publishers decide who, what, when, where, why, how and how many ads are delivered to their audiences. Not advertisers.
Reimagining the entire user experience requires an open-minded perspective regarding what a publisher’s content and ad strategy really delivers to its audience.
Under ideal circumstances, it includes a tailored creative experience that is aligned with the publisher’s brand, the entire page or pages of content that a visitor will experience and a variety of characteristics about the visitor who shows up.
By using data to segment site visitors and responding with the appropriate monetization strategy, publishers can create experiences that are “unskippable” – or those that users aren’t inclined to skip.
More Than Demographics
For example, choosing monetization strategies and tactics that only consider demographics doesn’t factor in the impact of where visitors arrived from and what triggered them to view a page. Where a visitor arrives from, their state of mind, how much time they have and what they’re after affects how they will engage with publisher content, as well as which monetization strategy is best for all parties involved in the encounter.
This is a common and often overlooked issue around visitors from Facebook and other social media channels , which tend to be one-off page viewers. Those visiting from a Google search tend to be in information-gathering mindsets, making them partial to consuming as much related content as possible.
And finally, a publisher’s regular visitor, potentially a subscriber to the site with an already established relationship represents yet another type of audience member who shouldn’t be treated with overly aggressive monetization strategies.
Treating all these visitors the same is similar to blasting the same message to everyone on your email list. It’s not a one-size-fits-all world.
Publishers need to think in terms of the segmentation used in evolved email marketing. Audiences include a variety of user types who need to be segmented and planned for, from social feed surfers and site subscribers to information gathering researchers and comparison shoppers.
Those who arrive from a social media post generally intend to view only the specific piece of content before returning to the social channel from whence they came. This audience segment won’t be around for long and may qualify for a more lucrative and impactful ad experience, such as an interstitial format that covers a viewer’s screen before the content is shown.
At the other end of the spectrum are regular visitors and subscribers. They could be rewarded for their loyalty with a subtler but still impactful experience spread throughout the length of their stay.
Overall, the user session experience should validate that visiting a given publisher’s site is an engaging, informative and even entertaining activity every time. Achieving this outcome requires taking both editorial content and monetization strategies into account when designing user experience.
It takes creativity – the kind that grows audiences and revenue.
This has two considerations. One is literal and considers whether or not to allow an ad to be skipped. The other is delivering an quality user session.
While allowing an ad to be skipped should take into consideration the visitor’s user type and pricing strategy goals, the long-term win here is creating a user session where none of the content, editorial or advertising motivates a consumer to skip it. That takes thoughtful insight about who the audience is.
Advertising-Free Page Design
This is a key area for rethinking. With ad technology advancements, designing patchwork quilt-inspired pages with dedicated ad real estate to be sold is becoming ancient history.
This practice has induced ad blindness and delivers highly questionable viewability. Rather than selling the web equivalent of hundreds of classified ads few are seeing or even realize are on page borders, publishers need to deliver a highly viewable breakthrough experience at exactly the right moment, in only the best available location to the appropriate user type. Aim to engage.
Instead of short or long, consider high-impact vs. long-impact monetization tactics. When publishers have identified the user type, they know how much time they’re likely to spend.
For social media users likely to spend less time, shorter, high-impact ad formats at premium moments and locations are key. But when a subscriber shows up, there may be more time to spread the monetization experience with subtler placements and formats at a variety of places and times.
One of the simplest ways to find out what makes an audience experience unskippable is to conduct A/B testing and brand surveys. Publishers can test their way to maximum performance by tweaking every element, with the data, revenue and site visitors to prove it.
Unskippable publishers will be the ones that reimagine the user experience of their entire paid and unpaid content. Not every visitor is the same.