The following is an exclusive MMW guest contributed op-ed from Uyen Tieu, Co-founder and CRO of Rumble.
Monetizing mobile content may seem daunting, and if you rely on spray-and-pray banner ads, it can be. A monetization strategy based solely on untargeted mobile ad messaging requires a lot of low priced ads to earn money while hurting the brand and consumer experience. While a consumer may put up with ads on a desktop browser, they are less patient on mobile devices, which have smaller screens and a higher expectation of a curated experience.
If a user is put off by the look and feel of a mobile page or app, they are not going to come back. Publishers that overdo display ads run the risk of losing audience share at a significant rate, and in the mobile space where user habits form quickly it may cost much more to win that audience back. There are plenty of other ways to earn revenue on mobile than running mobile ads, but it requires a little strategy, good technology and looking in the right places.
Consider using a paywall, for instance. Publishers often hesitate about paywalls and view them as an on or off switch that pushes readers away, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Charging for premium content has worked for publishers from MarketingSherpa to The Wall Street Journal. Consumers are willing to pay for content if the content is packaged in a worthwhile way. To find the right formula, publishers would need a technology that offers them this flexibility to experiment and find the right paid mix rather than going with an easy but rigid technology to make an effective play into the paid content space.
The New York Times, for example, has trialed different ways to give limited access to content and push their subscription at the same time – from their Times Select initial effort to the current offer that gives readers 10 free articles a month and helps them keep track each time they reach one. Additionally they are promoting subscriptions as a differentiated product (versus just mere access) and started to offer coupon codes.
Publishers of all sizes can run trials to find the right fit, which may be offering various forms of subscriptions. Perhaps the publisher can offer a free trial, timed limitations or some type of bundled content. Paywalls offer great revenue opportunity for publishers it just requires a little experimentation and testing to see what works for the target audience. As with any type of subscription, bundling and packaging it right will garner the highest return.
Another way to help turn mobile into a profit center is to add mobile commerce to the mix. Publishers can take advantage of relevant affiliate programs to garner commission through purchases driven by their sites. This can include the option to book a reservation through OpenTable at the bottom of a restaurant review, or the option to purchase tickets to a concert through Ticketmaster at the bottom of a record review. The content should be tagged carefully and make sense from a reader perspective. A story about girls’ night out would be complimented with an m-commerce offer for a Groupon at a spa in the reader’s area. This approach translates into revenues for the publisher, and it also gives readers added value by giving them access to deals on products that might interest them.
Content syndication is yet another option available to publishers who are looking to monetize mobile. By driving their traffic to external paying parties, publishers can earn revenue. As a publisher you can earn income from other publishers when you allow them to cut up their content and put it on your site. You offer these publishers access to your audience and in turn, you can offer your audience additional content monetizing your site. Working with a partner like Taboola or Outbrain can facilitate this process. When a reader finishes an article, suggested reading occurs on the bottom of the page and this can include additional stories from your site, along with syndicated content that fits in thematically.
Publishers should also consider search capitalization to help bring in revenue with mobile. Publishers going this route are able to turn the tables and get the big tech players, such as Google and Bing, to pay them. These tech giants want to improve their algorithms and are willing to pay publishers for search data. Google and Bing are especially interested in mobile data, as consumers are doing more searches on mobile devices and the arena is quickly evolving. The information tracked is mass data, so there are no privacy concerns with this option.
Mobile offers publishers many opportunities to monetize their product. There are plenty of options beyond mobile ads that can deliver a positive brand experience and solid revenues. Publishers just have to make the user experience a priority, which requires thinking beyond the CPM.