Opportunities for publishers to grow online ad revenues

If you are a print publisher with a companion website, is it driving enough ad revenue? Does your web ad strategy need a refresh?  Could you find more opportunities to offer to your advertisers?  Here are some simple tips that could help you innovate and grow your ad revenues:

1. Extend print campaigns with complementary web elements

Help your existing advertisers get more out of their print-based campaigns by focussing on unique web functionality.  Add web content with more details about their products, or run a competition with online entry for easy datacapture.  Run their videos on your site, or link to comments from other users of their products.  Mention competitions in your site’s e-newsletter or twitter about them.

2. Package your online audience as complementary to print

Know as much as you can about your online audience – it is likely to include completely new groups of people.  Make it easy for your advertisers to understand how they can reach new audiences as well as your print readership, and create simple to use packages.

3. Know your users’ other interests

Use surveys or analytics to find out what other topics your users are interested in.  This will provide clues to new ad categories to target.  You may have to create bespoke content or sections, such as buyers guides, to focus this interest and create sponsorship opportunities for related categories, eg travel and accomodation providers may be interested in your events listings.

4. Overhaul your directory

Many directories, originally conceived as a replacement for declining print classified, are hard to find, and don’t attract the traffic or the response they deserve.  Think through each of your sub-categories, and work out where in the site users might start their research process before purchasing.  Make it easy for users to see links to suppliers and services while they are looking at buyers guides or product reviews.  Think of the directory as a hidden database that pervades the site, rather than a destination in its own right.  But do also cater for people with clear requirements, and ensure your search categories make sense, and the hierarchy is obvious to the novice.

5. Check the value in your unused inventory

If you have sufficient unused inventory, it might be worth considering an ad network or sales house to sell your spare impressions to large generic campaigns.  This is usually done blind, so your core advertisers don’t know the rates available to larger campaigns.  You can also limit the categories and even block specific advertisers if there is a conflict. The publisher gets a share of the revenue – this can be anywhere from 10p to 60p CPM depending on your audience, so only worth considering if you have tens of millions of spare impressions.  Many networks offer behavioural targeting technology to add value to impressions – this is not as scary as it sounds and can increase your rates.

Carolyn Morgan’s consultancy, Penmaen Media, creates practical digital media and marketing strategy.  If you think your online ad strategy needs an overhaul, please contact us for a no-obligation discussion.