Stories That Drive Revenue
To a publisher, driving subscriptions is an uphill battle that demands consistent effort. While marketing plays an important role, the influence of it tends to decay over a period of time. This isn’t to say that marketing wouldn’t help, but to convey that marketing would a nudge and content would be the crowbar that helps users to subscribe. Without quality journalism, news sites wouldn’t be able to pull off their subscriptions successfully.
Stories – Front and center
Last week, Digiday published a piece describing how several paywall publishers including Business Insider and The Seattle Times are guiding their reporters with the help of content analytics. For instance, instead of relying on pageviews like others, The Times measures the influence of a story on readers and uses it as a north star to help reporters find and publish the right content.
If a reader converts into a subscriber in 30 days – after reading a piece, the story is categorized as “influenced”. If a reader signs up within a week (after consuming 5 articles), then it is filed under “highly influenced”. If a user subscribes after reading an article in the same session, then it’s put under “directly influenced”.
“We don’t want our members being assessed on those metrics. We want them assessed on the quality of their work.”
– Nastaran Mohit, Organizing Director, News Guild.
We know you’re wondering how you can apply it to your monetization strategy. Fortunately, you can pull out reports from Google Analytics and find out the content that contributed most to your ad revenue. Note that you’ve to link your Google Ad Manager and Google Analytics accounts to pull out these reports and we’ve shared the steps on our LinkedIn page. If a page has contributed more to your bottom line than the rest, then you can identify the right content (or even a topic) in a matter of days.
One of the unintended benefits of the approach is that it drives your content/reporting team to publish stories that matter to your readers. In order for this to work, you need to take a neutral approach while promoting the content and writing headlines. Because they can skew the results and you might end up chasing the wrong angle of the story.
ITP Update. We’re at 2.3
“WebKit will do its best to prevent all covert tracking, and all cross-site tracking (even when it’s not covert). These goals apply to all types of tracking listed above, as well as tracking techniques currently unknown to us.”
The purpose of the update is predictable. We know about link decoration (adding query strings to the URL to pass info) and how adtech platforms/publishers/media buyers are using it to track users and pass information. ITP’s recent update aimed to combat and nullify it.
“Unfortunately, we see continued abuse of link decoration, so ITP 2.3 takes two new steps to combat this.”
– Webkit ITP 2.3 (Src).
LocalStorage Capping and deletion:
If a cross-tracking website sends a user to a URL (with link decoration), then the site will be marked for “non-cookie deletion”. If there’s no interaction with the site for the next 7 days, all the non-cookie data will be deleted permanently.
Wondering what is non-cookie data? It refers to LocalStorage. As several platforms use not just 1st and 3rd party cookies, but also LocalStorage to store information about users (and to identify them later), Safari intends to put an end the practice with this update.
Instead of decorating the website URL, some decorate the referrer URL and then use document.referrer to store and read tracking ID. So, Safari will downgrade the document.referrer to eTLD+1. In other words, if the referrer’s decorated URL is example.com/some/path/?clickID=0123456789, then Safari will only return example.com/some/path/ to prevent the mechanism.
While the update isn’t major, it proves that Webkit will continue to identify and prevent tracking measures – as much as it could and on the other hand, platforms will try to come up with bypassing methods. If you need to be certain about one thing, know that attribution and measurement in Safari wouldn’t be possible (at least completely).
Publishers Are Pooling Video Ad Inventories
In our previous roundups, we’ve talked about publishers’ partnerships and alliances more than a couple of times. From Ozone Project to German publisher joining hands to fight against duopoly, we’ve covered them all. According to WSJ, digital publishers are teaming up to pool their video ad inventories for selling it to advertisers directly.
Surprisingly, the alliance didn’t have a name yet. BuzzFeed Inc., Group Nine Media Inc., and Insider Inc. are the ones forming the pact and are hoping to close more lucrative deals from big ad spenders. As YouTube and Facebook are garnering billions of views every day, advertisers find it easy to target their audience and most importantly, have the scale that is unmatched by any other platforms.
The alliance aims to sell ads as an independent body and the pool includes video ad inventories from all of the publishers’ properties and channels on other platforms (think, YouTube). So, it isn’t about diverting ad dollars from duopoly to publishers, rather offering a huge audience and a brand-safe environment (that platforms can’t obviously offer) to advertisers.
“For all of us to get together in a room like this, we’re not going to do a deal that we could have normally gotten on our own,”
– Ken Blom, Senior VP of Ad Strategy and Partnerships, BuzzFeed.
The founding media cos are planning to pull in more publishers to make the offerings stronger and compelling. Discovery, Inc. is in talks with the group and maybe rolled into the alliance.
The important question to ask here is – “is this enough?”. While the publishers are promising scale and brand-safe environment, advertisers are looking for something unique. For example, do they offer any first-party data on top of inventories to help advertisers target? Besides, some brands don’t want to associate directly with publishers because of their political stance. We’ll have to wait and see how it pans out.
Mozilla’s Anti-tracking Changes Impact Publishers’ Revenues
Typically, both the sell-side and buy-side take anti-tracking changes from Safari more seriously than the changes from the rest of the browsers. The reason is quite simple – Safari’s reach is way better than Mozilla’s Firefox or Brave. But are we sure that the impact from those browsers is minimal?
Well, here’s an interesting update. Digiday recorded how German publishers are struggling to keep their revenues up – because of Firefox’s anti-tracking updates.
Similar to Safari, Firefox is also blocking all third-party cookies by default. Dubbed as ‘Enhanced Tracking Prevention’, Firefox’s anti-tracking feature went live this Sep and German publishers are seeing “detrimental drop” in programmatic ad revenue, according to the source. The changes affected publishers nationwide including Axel Springer’s web properties.
- Average revenue drop is up to 15%.
- Average bid rates went down almost 40% (says, Index Exchange).
- Average price of Firefox inventory dropped b/w 15% and 25% in Germany.
We know you’ll be guessing the impact on other markets such as U.S and U.K. Luckily, as both the markets don’t have as many Firefox users as Germany, publishers still have some time to figure out what to do next.
“This is a big concern for publishers marketwide in Germany. This is inventory that was previously addressable, that has gone dark overnight, so it was a much more stark change than the latest Safari updates given that that inventory has been in the dark for years.”
– Mike O’Sullivan, VP of product, identity, and data for Index Exchange.
German publishers and advertisers haven’t found a reliable method to track users on Firefox yet. To reduce the revenue drop, publishers are working to push users towards Chrome and their apps – where they can track and sell ads at a better price.
Moments that matter
Here’s How Google Sends Advertising Dollars to Fake News Sites – Vice.
What Is “Reasonable” Privacy? – Which-50.
The definitive guide to what’s in and out at Advertising Week 2019 – Digiday.
Why We Need A UPC Code For Ads – AdExchanger (Opinion).
SEC Charges Comscore Inc. and Former CEO with Accounting and Disclosure Fraud – SEC.