With audiences expanding across the digital publishing sector, the biggest players in the industry had a banner growth year in 2015: comScore reportedthat at least 11 of the top online news publishers saw growth of more than 20 percent year-over-year in December compared to 2014, with some seeing well more than that.
As result, digital publishers are increasingly conquering their monetization challenges, withPwC forecasting that purchases of digitally published content should rise from £208 million ($275 million USD) in 2012 up to £1 billion ($1.4 billion USD) globally in 2017. Advertisers’ interest is rising, as well – albeit not nearly at the same exponential pace: PwC projects digital advertising expenditures to rise from £1.8 billion ($2.4 billion USD) in 2012 up to £2.9 billion ($3.8 billion USD) in 2017, when they will account for one-quarter of all advertising spending.
Why only one quarter? Because advertisers are still leery of the effectiveness of advertising with digital publishers – clinging still to Jeff Zucker’s old adage that when it comes to ROI, advertisers are trading yesterday’s analogue dollars for today’s digital dimes. The rise of ad blocking also isn’t helping: An Adobe and Pagefair report found that the number of ad blocking users grew from 21 million in 2010 to 181 million in 2015, and the estimated loss of global revenue due to blocked advertising during 2015 was reportedly almost £16.7 billion ($22 billion USD).
To combat ad blocking issues and replace the income they used to get from premium-rate print ads, publishers are investing (to varying degrees) in the outgrowth of their native advertising efforts – aka their sponsored content or branded content arms. But native ads (articles, videos, infographics, or other content items created or co-created by advertisers) only deliver value to advertisers if publishers can prove they drive substantive readership, clicks, or conversions.
A strategic, multichannel approach to digital messaging can help publishers boost native advertising outcomes (and associated ad rates). The key is thinking beyond search and discovery to more integrated in-platform tactics that can drive more targeted user engagement. Three smart approaches include:
Investing in a Rich Inbox. Rich inboxes are ‘email-like’ inboxes within a mobile browser or desktop browser, but the benefits they pose go far beyond traditional messaging avenues like email and SMS: Because there’s no user “opt-in” required, every visitor can access rich inbox content on desktop, mobile web, and inside an app – making them a high-value avenue for driving interactions with users on a publisher’s site (where they will be most prepared to engage with content). Rich inbox functionality can be an ideal way to broaden the exposure to native content, since it can enable publishers to disseminate content to 100 percent of their audience based on segmenting the interests of the visitor and serving highly relevant and target native ads to those visitors. Publishers can eliminate the need for visitors to discover native ads, whilst providing a significantly higher level of reach for advertisers. Combine this with message level attribution and you can pass a powerful new tool into the hands of your sales teams to provide them with the ability to prove the effectiveness of native advertising and generate appropriate value against the audiences you have created.
Incorporating Browser Push. Browser push functionality enables publishers to send messages to opted-in users as notifications in the desktop or mobile browser, rather than inside their site or app – giving publishers the ability to engage readers even when they’re not on their platforms. (Users have to opt-in to receive the notifications, but simply via yes-or-no click with no personally identifiable data required – making it a more frictionless approach to gaining permission based marketing. Publishers can place native content headers or calls-to-action into browser push notifications to drive measurable attributable increases in engagement.
Stronger Segmentation. With a more comprehensive digital messaging approach backed bysecond-generation software, publishers can segment their user groups in a more targeted way – enabling users to receive native content based on criteria such as the depth of engagement with specific content categories. That not only increases the potential for individual end users to interact with the material, it also provides greater insight into what message types and ad strategies are most effective: i.e., which messages created the most clicks, or which ads had the longest session read times. That kind of intelligence helps sales teams determine better pricing for premium content while helping marketers refine the efficacy of their marketing tactics – and, over time, of their native ad strategies at large.
Hugo Vint, OtherLevels
OtherLevels is a leading second-generation digital marketing platform with offices in San Francisco, London, Brisbane and Melbourne. OtherLevels is at the forefront of the enterprise marketing transformation being driven by the massive shift to mobile. The OtherLevels digital marketing platform enables marketers to engage and retain their audience across desktop, mobile web and apps. For more information, please visithttp://otherlevels.com.