This post is by Richard Jones, CEO at marketing engagement platform, EngageSciences.
Most publishing companies are navigating the difficult path from print to digital brought about by mobile broadband, multi-screen and social media, to name a few.
In this new world one of their key decisions is how best to appeal to advertisers. After all, there's more money around for those that get it right. Digital advertising spend has increased from just 14% of total advertising revenue in 2009 to 25% in 2013 and is forecast to hit 33% by 2018, according to PWC.
But this spend will be only be made available to the innovative few. Google and Facebook own more than 50% of static banners, video and image ads meaning the more traditional digital advertising market is saturated. As such, if publishers are to thrive they really must find unique ways of appealing to advertisers, and in return they can expect increased traffic/subscriptions along with a boost in revenue.
The answer lies in finding new ways to enhance media portfolios with innovative advertising and multi-platform strategies, which will take advantage of customer data to target content more effectively.
And what is key to such strategies is using user generated content (UGC). Recent IPSOS research suggests that millennials' purchasing decisions are more influenced by UGC than other forms of content or promotion with 53% of respondents saying they were influenced by UGC compared with just 23% influenced by banner ads. Similarly, calls to action see a 22% increase in click throughs where pages contain social content, while pages with social content and interactive applications see a 10% decrease in bounce rates and three times as much dwell time as standard pages.
UGC works particularly well in native advertising. Using a blend of user generated content with brand advertising and editorial to create native activity is widely regarded as one of the most successful digital advertising formats. According to research from IPG media lab, native advertisements are viewed for the same amount of time as editorial content and significantly more likely to be shared than a banner ad (with 32% versus 19% of respondents saying they would do so).
The smartest publishers know that advertisers are interested in time based metrics such as viewer duration spent on site, ad exposure and time spent viewing pages, and so will look to optimise these wherever possible. Interesting ways of doing this include interactive quizzes, competitions, sweepstakes or gallery displays with embedded advertising.
Aside from encouraging viewers to spend more time on a site? quizzes, competitions and sweepstakes with embedded advertising deliver more page impressions per visit than traditional ads. For best effect, the competitions will be multistep and create numerous interactions where each one might trigger a new ad – a technique that works particularly well with multiple choice quizzes. The boost in page impressions that comes from these iterative interactions is also valuable as page impressions are another key metric for advertisers.
Advertising campaigns can be tailored around data collected via competitions and sweepstakes, meaning that when a user next visits the site they will have a different experience. Of course any advertising strategy that is tailored for an individual's preferences will be more effective than one that is less targeted.
But an advertising campaign doesn't just comprise what the viewer sees, the back office needs to be in order too. Effective advertising, including competitions and sweepstakes, need to be run off a flexible up to date platform that makes use of data gleaned from social media. The platform must be able to integrate this data with other sources, including CRM, email and subscriptions, into a single warehouse.
A competition database of this sort should make it easy to deploy, customise and launch promotions whenever needed across multiple platforms. At the same time, it should be able to capture richly profiled and actionable audience data.
Well-designed competitions and sweepstakes run off a flexible database can be a real money spinner, boosting digital revenues by as much as 25%. AOL and Yahoo! are two publishing companies that regularly run successful campaigns of this sort.
Although print papers are battling unfavourable market forces, there is still huge potential in the digital market. But, rather than competing with Facebook and Google in a race to the bottom over who can offer the cheapest targeted ad, the most successful players will take a smarter approach; by boosting customer interaction, tailoring content and advertising around customer data. Traditional ad formats just won't cut it anymore in this age of disruption.