Finding new revenue streams is a top priority for every publisher. Digital advertising dollars simply haven’t filled the shoes of their traditional counterparts and the publishing industry has been greatly diminished as a result.
These days publishers are trying everything from launching digital marketing agencies to custom publications to fascinating innovations like the Branded Content Project. Anything to stem the tide of the Google and Facebook duopoly…
The future of the publishing industry lies in its greatest strength -the impeccable quality of its content- and the digital subscribers it attracts. Yet, it seems clear that digital subscriptions alone are insufficient.
It makes sense to focus on growing readership. It also makes sense to capitalize on every opportunity to generate revenue.
Sponsored and branded content, native advertising, custom publications, social media, syndication -everything is on the table.
In that spirit, allow me to recommend another vector of approach.
Your content is your greatest strength. Your audience is your greatest asset.
An untapped opportunity lies within your audience data. In this article I’ll cover 3 ways to monetize your audience that I’m 100% positive you’ve never considered…
Retarget Readers By Section
What’s more familiar to newspaper ad sales teams than selling ads by section? Got a B2B customer? Sell the Business section! Want to reach entertainment spenders? Sell Arts and Life!
This approach makes sense to both your sales team and your customers. It’s easy to articulate, easy to grasp, and easy to execute.
Still, it doesn’t matter how much traffic you generate, your website inventory is finite and you’re most likely already selling out of your standard units.
So what do you do when you’re sold out of digital inventory?
Did you know that it’s possible to advertise to your website audience virtually anywhere online?
And I don’t mean “look-a-likes”…I mean the specific audience of people that regularly get their news from you. Your audience.
Retargeting is advertising technology that leverages pixels (tracking codes) on your website to identify, track, and then serve ads to, your website visitors on other platforms (Google, Facebook, etc.).
The good news is you almost certainly have the necessary tracking pixels installed on your website(s) already. All you need to do is to tell Google, Facebook, etc. which web pages you want to track and the platforms will start accumulating audiences for you.
It works like this:
A reader visits a page on your website and your various tracking pixels fire off messages to their respective ad platforms, letting the platform know that this visitor viewed that particular page.
If you’ve configured the platform to track that page (by URL), the reader will be added to a custom retargeting audience.
Readers remain in the retargeting audience for a specific period of time (90+ days, depending on the platform) and subsequent visits reset the countdown to removal.
In practice you’ll rarely track just one page. Any given article has a relatively small audience but the volume increases quickly when you track multiple pages -and sections.
And now we’ve come full circle…back to selling ads by section.
Not only can you track individual URLs with retargeting audiences, you can also use “wildcards” to track URLs that share the same root, like www.yourmediabrand.com/sports/*. This means you can retarget visitors by section.
Once you have your retargeting audiences set up, they will continue to grow and refresh as those sections get views. All that remains is to monetize these audiences through your ad sales team.
Fortunately, this offering is very easy to explain to your customers…
“Reach the same highly-engaged and loyal audience that reads the news we publish, wherever they are online.”
Simple. And since you’re using your own data and not paying any data-related fees to Facebook or Google, you’re able to take a much larger margin as well.
Here’s the catch: This approach is fairly broad, and the broader the campaign, the higher the likelihood that some of the impressions you’re delivering increase the fees you pay. The next two monetization tactics I present (below) provide you better control over how your ads are delivered –and your profit margin, as a result.
Retarget Readers Of Sponsored / Special Content
Where can you find a more targeted audience than the set of readers who consume your special section content?
Want to reach seniors and caretakers? Your “senior living” content is the perfect fit.
How about holiday shoppers? Your Black Friday feature is the go-to place.
Looking for the politically engaged? Your election guide has all eyes on it.
These are all fantastic opportunities to leverage off-platform impressions to create seasonal revenue growth. Like the first strategy, this approach leverages tracking pixels and retargeting audiences to create niche segments of your readers you can monetize with ad campaigns.
This strategy is especially compelling when you consider that the readers that receive retargeted ad impressions are essentially unaware why they see the ads they do.
Advertisers may not always be thrilled to end up next to controversial content on your website. You may not always feel comfortable directly monetizing content on political or other sensitive subjects.
It might not feel appropriate to run ads for roof repair right next to the photos of tornado devastation, for example, but the audience is in-market, so to speak.
The process of manually tracking dozens or hundreds of articles would be prohibitively time-consuming, but MarketChorus Engage makes this process simple and virtually instantaneous.
Simply search for a topic (e.g. “Black Friday Specials”) and our system will find all matching articles and export the audience to the ad platform you choose in seconds (request a demo to see this in action).
Retarget Readers By Topic Of Interest (Contextual Retargeting)
I saved the most exciting opportunity for last…this is where the potential of publisher first party data really gets interesting.
If MarketChorus is indexing your content and we have access to your Google or Facebook pixel, you can take retargeting to an entirely new level. And the timing couldn’t be better…
CCPA, GDPR, and the rising data privacy concerns that brought them to bear have reached a critical mass. It’s clear that the advertising industry’s obsession with personally-identifiable targeting data is unhealthy and unsustainable.
Google’s decision to remove support for third party cookies from Chrome was the final nail in the coffin for the programmatic industry, at least as it exists today. It shows that even Google, who profits immensely from reselling third party data, sees the fast-approaching cliff.
In the near future, advertisers will have to bring their own data to the party…and they’re unprepared.
Publishers, on the other hand, are not. You’ve been steadily prioritizing your audience for decades. You have the upper hand, and once again, your ad products will be in demand with advertisers -if you’ve got the right technology in place to serve them.
MarketChorus Engage is a unique platform (to our knowledge no one else offers this solution) that allows publishers to build contextual retargeting audiences on Google, Facebook, etc. based on what people read on your website(s).
And the best part? Our AI continues to monitor your website for relevant content, automatically tracking any relevant articles as you publish them, so that your these audiences are kept fresh and growing.
It’s a fairly revolutionary idea, so it’s easiest to convey with real world examples…
Example 1: FWDDFW, a cause marketing initiative from The Dallas Morning News:
FWDDFW is a cause marketing (charitable) initiative produced by The Dallas Morning News, whose goal in 2019 was to generate a wealth of volunteer signups for local charities and meaningful revenue as a result.
MarketChorus Engage executed the digital media portion of FWDDFW’s 2019 campaigns with a small digital media budget, generating 75% of volunteer signups and exceeding campaign targets significantly.
The campaign also outperformed typical Facebook benchmarks; maintaining a 445% increase higher CTR (click-through rate) while also generating over 14.4K engagements (likes, reshares, and comments)
Example 2: Best In DFW, sponsored content from D Magazine
Dallas / Fort Worth based DMagazine’s “Best In DFW” content is the undisputed sponsored content champion in the DMA. Featured listings in DMagazine’s “Best of” publications are sold at a premium and the publisher nets a significant percentage of their annual revenue as a result.
For all this to work, DMagazine has to generate a significant amount of traffic to the digital versions of their “Best of” content. Over the lifetime of the campaign, MarketChorus retargeting audiences have driven over 150,000 visitors to DMagazine.com at an average click-through-rate (CTR) of 17%.
The industry benchmark is 0.9% CTR, so DMagazine’s rate of 17% is truly incredible.
Simply put, MarketChorus Engage allows you to create custom digital ad products, on-demand, for any advertiser based on the types of news their buyers consume. It’s proprietary, highly-differentiated, and high margin.
You’re able to significantly increase your margin on these ad products because you are not paying any data fees…you’re pocketing them.
Your audience provides you valuable data, every day, every minute that they’re consuming your content. It’s simply a matter of having the right technology to package the data and having a means to activate it for customers.
The Bottom Line…
There’s untapped potential in your audience data. MarketChorus Engage can help you discover it, and capitalize on it, increasing both your margin and your sellable inventory. Best of all, you don’t need to install any new technology -or retrain your sales team.
We only need access to your advertising pixels. Our software handles the rest automatically.
Your sales team doesn’t need to learn how to sell the new products because they’re the same audiences they already sell on platforms they’re probably very familiar with (Google, Facebook, etc.).
MarketChorus helps you sell your audience, everywhere they are online.
Read the FDWDFW case study to see the results for yourself and reach out to schedule a quick demo to see how MarketChorus Engage can help your team grow digital ad revenues.