Q Thoughts

Don’t Sell Your Audience Short

by Michael Ouellette

Running a successful publisher business comes down to two things: building audience and extracting as much value as possible from that audience through monetization techniques.

Building audience involves a mix of developing fresh, valuable content and executing on smart marketing tactics in areas such as search engine optimization. Rightfully so, most midsize publishers dedicate the majority of their time and energy on this aspect of their business and less so on monetization.

Monetizing an audience for many publishers is left in the hands of ad networks, affiliate links and contextually relevant ad solutions like AdSense. Smart publishers embrace diversity in their ad mix and the networks that they work with, monetizing across various platforms paying them a cost per click (CPC), cost per action (CPA) and cost per thousand impressions (CPM). For the most part these methods work and publishers who spend the time to get this mix right see a healthy return on their audience building efforts. However, even the more sophisticated publishers are leaving money on the table by solely relying on advertising to monetize their audience. There is market value in the audience itself, not just in the action taken on the publisher’s website, that is frequently overlooked by publishers.

In today’s digital advertising world data is quickly becoming a necessary commodity to deliver high performing campaigns, and publishers are the creators and keepers of this data. Companies like OwnerIQ who use anonymous browsing and ownership data to target ads for brands, are looking for the right publishers to partner with (and pay) to help them understand and find desired consumer segments through an exchange of data. For many publishers getting paid for the browsing data collected on their website is found money, completely incremental to their advertising efforts and because everything is completely anonymous presents zero impact to the overall consumer experience.

For many publishers, selling data presents a new, recurring revenue stream that could potentially be lucrative over the long run (possibly more lucrative than selling inventory). One thing that I tell publishers getting ready to jump into the data selling business is that it is important to understand how their data will be used by any company that they partner with. The value of a publisher’s data is directly correlated to how that data is used in the marketplace. By understanding common uses or applications of their data, publishers may begin to develop a perspective on the market value of their data.

As the use of data continues to reshape digital advertising, the opportunity only grows for those publishers who understand the true value of their audience.

Categories:Posts from 2010


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