One of the major challenges facing publishers today is how to find the balance between driving revenue and increasing engagement. It’s no easy feat, and the amount and type of advertising visitors will put up with is constantly changing.
So how do publishers keep the cash flowing in while maintaining a connection with their audience?
Think lifetime value over reach
More and more publishers are starting to think about the lifetime value of their audience, which was previously a metric used predominantly by retailers. Gone are the days of measuring success solely by pageviews. While initially focusing on pageviews might bring a short-term revenue boost, it fails to provide consistent, reliable revenue to keep publishers growing.
Although the lifetime value calculation will vary depending on your mix of subscriptions, ad types, and paywall, some of the key metrics to track include the combined eCPM of each page type, number of pages per visit, number of repeat visits, and time spent on page. By looking at the overall value of every visitor, publishers can identify themes, topics, and features that keep readers coming back for more.
Engagement is especially critical for publishers who are looking to drive subscriptions and get visitors to become paid subscribers. For example, The New York Times determined the number of times a visitor will return is an important signal in identifying whether a visitor will convert. The more a user returns to the site, the more likely she is to become a paid subscriber.
The New York Times also found the number of visits signals an existing subscriber could churn. Subscribers who read five articles a day are less likely to cancel their subscription than those who read one article a week.
Focus on time on page
The longer you can keep visitors on a page, the more revenue you can generate through ad refreshes and impressions. Not only that, but it is also a sign visitors are engaged with what’s on the page.
So, what can publishers do to increase time on page and increase revenue? Add video!
A recent study found visitors spend 2.6 times more time on pages with video than those that don’t. Plus, video allows you to diversify your advertising opportunities and capitalise on the growing video advertising market. Forrester predicts the annual video ad spend in the United States will grow up to US$102.8 billion by 2023, up from US$90.7 billion in 2018.
But just adding video isn’t enough. To maximise engagement, you need to ensure you are showcasing contextually relevant videos. For example, our publishing partners see visitors spend nearly four times longer on pages with our contextually relevant sports videos compared to those with a non-relevant video on the page. By having a complementary video for every sports article, including a playlist of additionally relevant videos, publishers are able to keep visitors on pages longer and become a destination for sports fans, building revenue for today and long into the future with every return visit.
Keep an eye on load times
No matter what advertising methods you choose, you need to keep an eye on page load times. One report found more than 40% of ads are larger than industry standards, and this is particularly important when adding video advertising to your site. When an ad is too large, it increases load time and inevitably will impact viewability. If the ad takes too long to load, your visitors won’t stick around to wait.
In fact, every second counts when it comes to load time. While only 9.6% of visitors bounce when a page takes two seconds to load, that jumps to 32.3% by the time seven seconds rolls around. This is particularly important for video advertising.
Aside from the size of the video ad, you should also be aware of the load speed of your video player because not all players are created equally. Whether you host your own videos or use a third-party video player, you should ensure your videos and ads are served via a content delivery network (CDN) and are fully compressed.
Additionally, you’ll want to look for a player that has been minimised, meaning the functions and features of the player have been compressed themselves. Most visitors will give up on a video if it doesn’t load in two seconds, however you should aim for much faster than that.