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Why publishers should explore newer monetisation models besides ads

In the digital monetisation landscape, experimentation and innovation are the latest buzzwords. By implementing native advertising, contextual ads, innovative paywall models, and affiliate programmes, media organisations are seeking ways to transform their engaged, loyal audiences into long-term sources of revenue. In order to deal with declining ad revenues – also owing to ad blocking lately – digital publishers are expected to push the envelope.

Hitherto, many of them used to fill their inventory with advertisements and expected paywalls to work wonders, irrespective of their business model. One of the issues with banner ads or any other advertisement for that matter is ad blocking. Experts point out that ad blocking and viewability are symptomatic of an over-reliance on boosting short-term revenues, rather than building long-term sustainable digital ad strategies.

As for a paywall, before deciding to charge audiences for content, publishers have to conduct thorough cost benefit analyses for their unique audiences. Alternatively, they can also branch out and pursue new, alternative revenue opportunities, suggests HubSpot.

The good news, however, is that it is beginning to change as newer models emerge. The Guardian, for example, has lately taken quite a risk, promising advertisers they need only pay for guaranteed viewed ads across the off-site inventory the publisher buys through its trading desk.

Beyond ads – one size doesn’t fit all
Digital publishers have begun to factor in the evolving content monetisation ecosystem, which clearly points to a drastic change in the mindset of users. They wouldn’t click on an advertisement that doesn’t serve their purpose, nor would they shell out money for some content offering that is under their radar.

Hence, no wonder publications are gearing up to break the mould and innovate by leveraging webinar sponsorships, event sponsorships, newsletter sponsorships, selling subscriber lists, lead generation for advertisers, topical and event microsites, and classified directory listings as new monetisation streams.

At the same time, what works for one may not fill the coffers for the others. It’s pertinent that each type of publication goes for an appropriate model. For example, a B2B company may try its hands at lead generation and directory, but every B2C entity can’t be doing the same.

Sponsored content
When advertisers are bent on engaging audiences in engaging and creative ways, publishers are noticing a corresponding surge in sponsored content and native advertising. A clear majority (54.8 per cent) of both B2B and B2C publishers cite this monetisation stream as likely to increase in value in the immediate future.

The value proposition is clear: content drives meaningful conversions at scale, and publishers offer platforms for brands to reach wider audiences through webinars, e-books, native ads, branded videos, and more. From a monetisation perspective, media organisations are evolving into discussion leaders and information facilitators. Sponsored content opens doors to a new digital advertising vista.

When it comes to sponsored content, however, publishers need to be careful to maintain a high-quality of work. Consumers can be skeptical of paid placements and likely to ignore anything that looks like an ad. Media publications know their audiences best, and may want to retain control over their editorial messaging and strategy, operating as consultants to their brand and agency partners.

Contextual ads
As is the case with sponsored content, you can also consider contextual ads for better monetisation. Marketers can purchase search terms on Google, Yahoo!, Kanoodle, Quigo, BidClix, Industry Brains (B2B focus) or other contextual advertising networks. This is generally done in an online, self-service capacity, with no sales rep involved.

Meanwhile, site publishers wishing to participate paste a line of code into their web pages. Once the code is in place, ads automatically appear on the publisher’s web site based on the content of the page. The ad networks’ software ‘reads’ the content of the page and automatically sends ads for advertisers that have purchased matching search terms.

Microsites are a boon for seasonal campaigns and product launches that have a short window for the creation of effective marketing tools and deployment. As these focus on specific campaigns, they assure exclusive attention on the branding of the subject. You can also have topics advertisements or sponsored content displayed on these microsites.

These sites will make the process of promotions through e-mails and newsletters convenient and easy, as well as raise the interest level of target audiences about the subject / theme. E-mails aren’t the only way publishers can generate leads for their advertisers though. According to the Association of Media Magazine’s Factbook, 67 per cent of digital magazine readers actually want to buy directly from magazine ads and 62 per cent of readers want to buy directly from articles.

For digital enterprises that are increasingly looking for more options to monetise on the Web, a directory can be a reliable source of income. It complements advertising and one can either integrate a directory to an existing website or have an independent directory site. Once a directory starts attracting traffic, companies can charge their clients for listing, based on several business models.

You can offer categorised listing of companies, products, and services, including featured and free listings, using a comprehensive directory solution. It lets you collect and monetise data, sell leads and zoom in on list rentals.

You can also feature business listings, including paid listings, featured or free listings, to maximise revenue opportunities and create any business model for directories. Through behavioural ad targeting, you can serve relevant ads to users and charge better rates. Any media website may have paid listings and charge a premium for featured listings through the directory solution.

Directory supports different business models, such as paid submission for inclusion in the directory, affiliate programmes of e-commerce websites, featured listings, where an entry is charged for premium position, bid for position, advertising, lead generation, and charging users for specialised directories prepared for targeted customer group.

Priyali Hooda

Priyali Hooda is the Senior Product Manager and Digital Media Consultant at KREATIO.