8 ways to increase your advertisers’ ad revenue (and yours)

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


Greetings from London, UK.

Actually, not London this week. This week I’ve stepped onto a plane and headed off on my annual vacation to a beautiful spot in Turkey on the Mediterranean sea, specifically an upscale, harbour place called Kalkan on the Dalaman Coast.

So, instead of London rain, I am today writing this from a beautiful, sunny terrace overlooking the sea. It’s 35 degrees centigrade and I am sipping a very cold glass of sparkling wine. It doesn’t get much better.

So, I can honestly say, more than any other week of the year, it’s an absolute pleasure writing today’s newsletter for you.

And in this newsletter, I will cover ways to increase you advertisers’ (and your own) revenue by providing what I believe are the most important checklist items to look at around how we best optimise ad space on suggested Web sites or apps.

Essentially, I’m expanding on this important topic which I opened up the Pandora’s box on in my last newsletter. Optimisation can be crucial in determining the best ROI, but it’s often an area overlooked due to lack of knowledge, time, or, frankly, ignorance.

Also, I want to talk about the fairly new potential ad revenue opportunity around streaming services. The Washington Post entered the fray in the last few months. Is this a new revenue diversification channel for other media companies?

Plus, a tidbit for your interest in this same streaming space: A company in the USA is creatively working on an idea for giving away free TVs in exchange for users seeing ads. Yes, really. Read on …

8 ways to increase your advertisers’ ad revenue (and in doing so increase your own)

1. The basics: increasing quality of content

Quality of content is, of course, essential for ad revenue. The advertiser will only want to pay for views or clicks, which in turn, requires an audience with high traffic. And the best way to raise traffic is to create top quality content. That’s exactly why placing ads within low-quality content is unlikely to generate decent revenue. 

Your ad client’s content needs to be unique, credible, and valuable for the audience (before Google will even recognise it). And it needs to be SEO-friendly, with appropriate keywords … with high search volume and low competition, if at all possible.

In essence, the better the SEO, the higher that Google, and other search engines, will rank your page.

2. Provision of dynamic content for the advertiser and their audience

Web pages where the content doesn’t change (or change much) are very unlikely to deliver well in terms of ad revenue. It’s simply not good enough just to post, say, an article and hope for the best. Google likes forums, blogs, or vlogs where publishers and users interact with the content — on a constant basis. It’s all about demonstrating high levels of engagement.

3. Bypassing the ad blocker scenario

763.5 million net users will use ad blockers (source: Statista) to stop ads from appearing, which, of course, ends up damaging ad campaigns. 

News publishers can ask readers to turn ad blockers off.
News publishers can ask readers to turn ad blockers off.

There are two things publishers can do to bypass ad blockers:

• Ask the audience to turn off ad blockers while on the advertiser Web site or app. This can be a controversial strategy however, as it may result in the relevant audience departing, regardless how unique or engaged they are with your content. If your audience begins to bounce, it can damage the ad client’s monetisation aims as well as their Google ranking.

• Alternatively, the other approach using native ads interwoven within the Web site’s content. This strategy is far more attractive as it won’t annoy the user and will add value to the content. For instance, it would no doubt be beneficial to display an ad that promotes, say, new software for e-commerce on a page about e-commerce strategies. Common sense.

4. Tracking ad performance

The initial audience reach will usually have the highest CTR and, therefore, media companies tend to place ads with the highest CPC or CPM in what would seem to be the most attractive placements.

But every publisher needs to find what works best for their client Web page or app. For optimal monetisation, it’s best to keep watch on performance, changing the order of ads as and when necessary. 

5. Using flexible pricing

Seasonality can be a factor of ad revenue. The obvious ones being Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Black Friday, etc., where revenue will be at peak levels. 

Where a publisher relies on client ads as an important revenue source, they will need to embrace a strategy that manages demand fluctuations over a period. Yield optimisation is an applicable strategy here, allowing media sales teams to make the best out of their ad inventory, selling all possible ad space for the highest price in the year. This is possible through, for instance, Google Ads Auctions, selling ad space to the highest bidder.

This relies on the (potential) customers’ behaviour, making prices flexible and depending on a range of external factors such as, as mentioned earlier, demand and seasonality.

6. Optimising sizes of ads

Although the perception can be that bigger ads are better for online ad revenue, consumers won’t appreciate having their screens dominated with advertising. As more than 60% of organic Google searches (in the U.S. alone) presently come via mobile phones, choosing ad size is something which needs care and attention.

Great user experience (UX) is the order of the day — and something that will have an impact your client’s site ranking.  

7. Using differing ad formats and types

As advertisers will often use a variety of channels from Web sites to video channels,social media to apps etc., the formats of ads and types will change appropriately. 

Ads maybe in text form, video, or maybe image-based, and they can appear as a banner, a native ad, a push notification, interstitial, etc. Some of these ads might yield a better ad revenue than others, depending on the advertiser’s industry and their target audience, so it can be a good idea to test/analyse performance. It’s true that some types of ads will perform very differently on desktop vs., say, a mobile phone.

It's also good to experiment different formats on Web sites, as this usually provides a much better UX and increases the CTR.

I’m sure that your advertisers will appreciate your efforts, too.

8. Choosing the correct placement for your client ads

If you’re suffering from low ad revenue, one reasons could be you’ve chosen an incorrect/non-optimal ad placement or maybe simply, bad timing? These mistakes can easily lead to quite low ad visibility and can therefore significantly affect your advertisers’ and your own end revenues.

Always check if your ad placements are both visible as well as being easily clickable for any Web site visitors. Some ads will no doubt perform better than others. For instance, ad space in the centre of your content, and below the nav bar, or within any white space usually has much better monetisation potential.

In summary

The monetisation of Web sites, apps, social media, etc., needs a well-considered advertising strategy. It is important to constantly track your advertisers’ ad performance and to be near the top of the Google search results.

If your campaign ad revenue is not performing as you or your clients were expecting, it’s up to YOU to troubleshoot any issues and provide valued insights as to what needs to happen next. It’s all about increasing your ad revenue and best optimising the space available on your suggested Web sites or apps.

A new business model for advertising: The Washington Post joins the streaming set

It’s hit my radar recently that TV as an advertising medium is becoming of interest to many digital outlets — and news media companies.

The Washington Post has launched FAST — free, ad supported TV streaming service.
The Washington Post has launched FAST — free, ad supported TV streaming service.

For example, The Washington Post has recently launched its own FAST (free, ad supported), 24/7, TV streaming service on Freevee. (FAST channels are similar to conventional TV channels: They run continuously and have scheduled programming but are broadcast via the Web).

Check out the details here.

Washington Post Television is a premium free streaming service. It’s available 24 hours, seven days a week, and will, in their own words, bring “trusted journalism to new audiences — providing an additional destination for breaking news as it happens, exclusive interviews with newsmakers, and in-depth reporting from the front lines.”

Revenue is guaranteed by the FAST channel’s in-stream ads ask. When asked if advertisers are hesitant to place their brands alongside news content on a FAST channel (as they sometimes are with programmatic ads online), The Post said: “One of the more attractive things about FAST is it’s so like television, and so there is less of that worry about adjacency. You could have CNN on and be watching a serious story and there’s commercial breaks. It’s not quite like the Internet experience where it’s like, ‘I don’t want to put my ad in front of my video.’”

And The Post is not the first news publisher to enter the space. Besides The Washington Post, the other text-first news outlet to have launched a FAST channel is The Guardian, which established its service on Rakuten TV last year.

It’s all early days, but streaming service are becoming more prevalent and taking Washington Post’s experience, maybe it’s about to a start a revolution inside news media companies? They only launched in May so we will see how well it does in due course.

Free TVs?

Also, in this streaming space, there has been a recent development which might be of interest you when in conversation with your ad clients (should that conversation turn to streaming). By showing you know what’s happening in the industry, you will be better placed to gain a trusted/knowledgeable reputation.

So, what’s the news? There have been plenty of leaked reports recently about a new way to monetise ad content. Pluto TV in the USA is strongly rumoured to be about to launch a new service, actually giving away, ad-supported TVs later this year.

Teevee Corporation, as the parent company is called, has been building a new type of TV set (branded as “Telly”) that includes a permanent second screen for advertising (as well as various information widgets). The goal is to give away a free TV and monetise it through advertising on that second screen.

As well as playing ads that can be tailored to be relevant to what’s being shown on the main (first) screen, the second screen will also display a number of widgets to show things like local weather, the latest news headlines, sports scores etc. Some of the news sources Teevee is looking to integrate into its “news ticker” include the likes of Bloomberg, CNN, and ESPN to start with. So, maybe it’s only a matter of time before you get a call?

Technically, most TVs sold today are already ad-supported in some way or another, as companies like Samsung, for example, run their own ad-supported streaming services, whilst monetising ad-supported third-party services on their platform.

One big challenge seems to be convincing advertisers they would benefit from running ads on that second screen … as opposed to just spending their money with other established digital channels.

Plus, it feels that people will either love it or reject it as a fad. It’s hard to predict, but we shall find out soon enough. Examining The Washington Post’s example above, the question is: Will this be an area of interest and a new business model for other publishers?

I shall let you know in due course, as I will be monitoring its progress.

Meanwhile, for any media houses interested in looking further, click here for more information.

About this newsletter 

Today’s newsletter is written by Mark Challinor, based in London and lead for the INMA Advertising Initiative. Mark will share research, case studies, and thought leadership on the topic of global news media advertising. Sign up for the newsletter here.

This newsletter is a public face of the Advertising Initiative by INMA, outlined here.

E-mail Mark at Inma.mark@gmail.com with thoughts, suggestions, and questions or follow him on Twitter (@challinor).

About Mark Challinor

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