Online publishers plate is full, no doubt about that. Yes, they have to publish quality content on their website, but that’s not nearly enough anymore. They also have to drive traffic to their websites and present high click-through rates (CTR). All of this put together creates quite a complex and challenging day-to-day struggle, trying to juggle many things without missing a beat. With the increasing popularity of ad blockers, visitors now have the power to avoid seeing what they do not wish to see (AKA commercials or the fruits of the publisher’s labor). And, the fact that many users now access sites from their mobile devices makes it an even bigger challenge to excel in mobile ad optimization.
In this article, we’ll try to offer some useful ways to tackle some common online publisher challenges.
Challenges around traffic generation
There are several known business models that online publishers use, the popular ones being: Advertising, subscriptions service (Paywalls), freemium and lead generation. Whatever your business model may be, the one common thing is that they all rely on… traffic. To be more accurate, every online business depends on traffic. So yep, to monetize online, traffic is a MUST.
Get social on social media
The first obvious tactic for getting more traffic is getting active on social media and speared the word about your business. Besides having a presence in various social channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus (good for SEO), YouTube and so on, make sure to extend your presence to other social channels that are relevant to your specific industry/niche. While Facebook has a reputation for being the best when it comes to generating traffic, you might just find that Instagram works better for your niche.
Hacking social media is not easy, but the way to go about it is to publish relevant interesting content (whether it’s your own or curated) to increase your fan base.
Try publishing at least once a day on each channel. It’s always better to publish a couple of times a day (especially on Twitter). The more the merrier.
In order to decide what topics to focus on, you check out their popularity by using BuzzSumo (use your chosen keywords) which tells you how many time a piece of content has been shared on social media. Filtering BuzzSumo’s content by time period will also reveal the most popular content in the past 24 hours (for trending content topics) and the content that has been popular for the past year (to find more ‘evergreen’ type of content topics).
Speaking of time, once you’ve figured out the ‘What’, don’t neglect the ‘When’. Scheduling social posts for the perfect time holds a great importance in having your content viewed and engaged with. Investigate your website and social channels analytics to find your niche’s ‘hot’ hours and days (as I’m sure you already did) and focus on these times specifically.
Work with industry influencers
Another traffic-generation related tactic is using Influencers marketing. While creating top quality content is one thing, having that content shared is another. One of the ways to get you there is by working with industry influencers. Influencers are “thought leaders” that have established themselves as sort of experts in a specific field. They can be popular bloggers, journalists, and celebrities, or people from any other profession. Your goal is to use this power they have and to help you share your content with their followers. There are no exact rules to what your influencer’s profiles should be, except that they have to be interested in your content, be active on social media, have a lot of followers (which naturally they usually do) and for their followers to be within your target audience.
Investigate who these magical people are (you can use various online tools that specialize in finding influencers) and monitor to see what they share. The next step is engaging with them by befriending them on the various social channels you want to use their power on, sharing their content (in hope for quid pro quo) and creating content that is appealing to them. Once you have a more established relationship with the influencer of your choosing, you can try a more direct approach and ask them to review your product or content. You can even initiate some kind of content collaboration with them.
Guest posting on popular industry websites
Which brings us to the next tactic we want to share: Guest posting. This is a great way to ride the traffic waves of other popular websites some of which are influencers’ (as long as you have a backlink leading to your website). Guest posts on relevant websites that are followed by the industry are like having a quality stamp on your website. That, combined with the fact that some of that great traffic is headed your way (the backlink), can go a long way in making that traffic line sky high.
But it’s not only the outbound links that you need to worry about. One of the most effective tactics in generating traffic is using the traffic you already have, by suggesting related content or products. The really successful online publishers never miss an opportunity to have their users stay on their site longer and visit multiple pages. They really know how to work their content in their favor. Be sure to offer your users additional content to read up on, relying on their current session and data you’ve collected. It might even help you with your returning visitors’ stats – there’s nothing like finding a lot of content that interests you, to make someone realize that this source (whether it’s a website or an app) is worth revisiting.
Challenges around creating great content
As an online publisher, you already know that content is your main “product”. Whether people are actually paying money for it (paid subscriptions and premium content), or you are counting on ad impressions and clicks. The quality of your content will determine if they’ll come back for more.
The main struggles when dealing with content is the quality and pace of generating content. While creating quality content is hard. Creating it on a daily basis is even harder.
Get multiple contributors on board
One known tactic for balancing this situation is letting different contributors write for you (reverse guest posting) and keeping the door open for sponsored posts. But don’t let this tactic bring up your lazy side. You’ll have to monitor these content pieces closely (especially the contributors’ ones), otherwise, you’ll end up compromising quality.
Some content never gets old
Republishing ‘old content’ is another popular tactic. A lot of online publishers make it a priority to always have some evergreen articles lined up and ready to be republished. On the other hand, they are also constantly on the lookout for new content topics to write about. You can also take a look at questions that come up in the comments area at the bottom of posts, as many times you can find great ideas there for additional, related topics to write about. Another way of getting ideas is getting users engaged by using polls and asking for their opinions.
Finally, some publishers repackage written content as infographics (which are very popular), guides, SlideShare presentations, and videos. Aside from the fact that it’s good for SEO, it also helps users engage with content in a way that suits them most.
Challenges around monetization: Show me the money
I am sure you hate ads appearing during broadcasts of your favorite TV shows. Same goes for your site’s visitors, having their reading experience interrupted by the appearance of ads. They may even use some popular ad blockers to enjoy an ad-free browsing experience.
But, if your ads don’t get impressions, then all the superb content and high traffic you’ve worked so hard to generate won’t help you, you wouldn’t be able to monetize your website to its fullest potential.
A workaround solution for this is to have the ads seamlessly embedded in your site’s content, offering your visitors maximum satisfaction and minimum interference.
Another big challenge is optimizing your ads monetization. Which basically means obtaining maximum possible engagement and view-ability with minimal impact on user experience.
In order to crack this challenge and manage it on a daily basis, you’ll need to optimize your ads performance by changing their type, location, size, and so on. Most likely, you will be faced with some of the following challenges.
- Ad layout format – Your ad format should not disrupt the page flow or content flow and should result in a seamless user experience to avoid irritating your site’s visitors so much so that they leave your site and increase the bounce rate.
- Ad placement and relevance – Your ads should be relevant to the content on the web pages and should be accurately placed by taking into consideration the various screen sizes and session timelines.
- Mobile web optimization– You also need to consider mobile web ad monetization, since a major portion of your site visitors will visit your site via their mobile phones. The user’s interaction with your mobile site will most likely be quite different than what you may be prepared for.
Trying to manage all of these optimization challenges can prove quite difficult in itself (to say the least). Luckily for us all, there are options out there, to help publishers better manage the monetization part of their day-to-day work. One such solution is Browsi. Browsi’s solution helps publishers monetize mobile-web ads (automatically and programmatically), detecting missed opportunities in real-time, without interfering with the user experience and page latency.
Well, online publishers’ lives are no walk in the park, we get it by now. The ongoing race for that sweet spot where your users (many of them) feel comfortable reading your (great) content without being hindered by the wrong ads, in the wrong places, at the wrong time will continue. You just have to keep at it and find ways to do it smartly and more efficiently, every day. Remember, users don’t really mind seeing ads, as long as they don’t interfere with their experience, and of course, not at the expense of quality content.