Building Value For Publishers Beyond The Click-Through
Premium online publishing is currently at a critical stage in its maturation. Advertising revenues are under pressure and the display element in particular appears to be struggling to fully meet the commercial needs of publishers keen to continue creating quality content for premium audiences. Murdoch’s fascinating experiment with an online pay-wall on The Times appears to be an unsustainable model for all but a few (including The Times!). However, it does put the cat amongst the pigeons for us all and directly challenges the standard ‘free’ solution of a 100% advertising-supported model.
The final solution probably does reside somewhere in-between the two models. So, moving forwards a delicate balance for publishers may well need to be found between an advertising model supported by a micropayments offering for smaller elements of premium content. At Hi-media we are particularly well placed for these developments as we offer a full range of publisher solutions in both areas.
But why is it that publishers are being forced to even consider these different models? With so many people now consuming the majority of their premium news content online why is it that digital display advertising is struggling to fully support this growth?
Part of the reason lies with the industry’s obsession with the « last click » rule of attribution. As Randall Rothenberg (president and CEO of the IAB) stated last year, we have been « toiling under the tyranny of the click for too long ». Rothenberg’s statement is perfectly incisive as it succinctly nails this major issue which has been holding back the industry for the last 15 years.
The « last click » rule ignores entirely the influence of any advertising seen by the consumer prior to their ultimate conversion, which is simply attributed to the final click-through to purchase. Many display ads prompt users to further research products long after their engagement with the marketing message and there is no value attributed to other obvious positives such as increased brand-awareness, buzz or loyalty reinforcement.
Research from comScore further supports how pointless measuring click rates were as it revealed that 16% of internet users account for 80% of all the clicks from display ads – and that the majority of these serial « Natural Born Clickers » were low-earning males who were simply intensely curious. Therefore, those users clicking directly on the ads are not even the target audience of the marketer! The more valuable consumers seem to spend their time researching the products and brands further prior to making a final decision.
The vital role which display plays in this entire process is hugely undervalued, resulting in online marketing being increasingly dominated by direct sales strategies rather than taking a well thought-through brand building approach.
Digital is a unique medium as it gives brands unprecedented access and opportunity to truly engage and interact with a well-targeted consumer audience. It would be very dangerous and limiting for this age of procurement to persist and continually stifle the essential creative processes required to truly engage online users.
The sooner we all realise that it is everything that matters, not just the final click-through, the sooner the online advertising industry can then benefit from providing true measurement and attribution. This, in turn, will provide greater insight into the actual return on advertiser’s investment and the resulting growth in spend may then help fuel the future development of quality online publishing for those that cannot afford to generate the premium niche content required to justify a pay-wall model.