Modern Healthcare Solves For Sponsored Content Discovery

Modern HealthcareMaking sure branded content is seen by an advertiser’s target audience is a common problem for publishers.

Some redesign their sites to surface sponsored content more often, while others fulfill campaigns by turning to social media, Facebook ads, Taboola and Outbrain.

Modern Healthcare, which delivers business news to C-suite health professionals, often runs sponsored content and white papers that deliver important information to those professionals. But it had no way of delivering that content to readers when they would find it most useful: while searching for it.
There’s no better intent signal than search, so Modern Healthcare solved for this problem by inserting its advertisers’ white papers and sponsored content into its custom site search, powered by Swiftype.

Modern Healthcare custom selects search terms that will display a sponsored article or white paper. It can move specific articles up in the search results and pin them to a position. Sponsored articles are flagged in a different background color, similar to Google’s sponsored search results.

Putting relevant content in front of a user who’s looking for that exact type of content has improved campaign performance, especially for those tied to lead generation. In the year since Modern Healthcare implemented Swiftype, Gonzo Schexnayder, the publisher’s digital general manager, has noticed that those campaigns deliver more quickly.

“If someone finds and engages with your content, even if it’s a small number, and that person turns into a lead, that saves you hours of cold calling,” Schexnayder said. “We’re bringing someone to the doorstep who is already engaged with the brand.”

Modern Healthcare is also looking at the search data in order to improve the editorial process and customer service so it can better serve its readers.

“I look at the keywords all the time to see if there are opportunities for the editorial team or for customer service,” Schexnayder said. “For advertisers, we’ll look for keywords that are related to subject matter conversation, to see where there’s relevance between keywords readers are searching for and what marketers are trying to push.”

It’s easy to find out which queries return zero results. Schexnayder noticed that many people had typed in “unsubscribe” to figure out how to remove a subscription, but it didn’t turn up any relevant results. So the company added a page with unsubscribe instructions and pinned that result to the top.

When looking a vendor to replace the slow, custom search from its content management system, Modern Healthcare evaluated other site search companies, including Google’s custom site search and Oracle-owned Endeca. But others vendors’ feature sets and prices didn’t match up to its needs.

Schexnayder liked the ability to manipulate the algorithm to feature content more relevant to Modern Healthcare’s readers, as well as the ability to manipulate algorithms to favor publication date over the search term, which made sense for the news-focused site.

Schexnayder noticed better accuracy, too.

Swiftype’s search results work better for individual sites because its algorithms focus on the relations within an individual site versus the whole Internet, according to Ben Lack, Swiftype’s senior director for marketing and business development. And unlike Google, it offers publishers more data around search terms people are using and when they’re coming up empty-handed.

Over the past year, Modern Healthcare has slowly expanded how it uses sponsored content in the search terms.

The next opportunity is to add site search to its keyword targeting.

Advertisers on Modern Healthcare often buy advertising space against articles tagged with certain keywords. In Q2 of 2016, it will enable advertisers to buy against site searches that contain those same keywords. With more inventory available, Schexnayder estimates it could add 20% to 30% to the revenue it achieves from such buys.

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