Digital Publishing Guest Columns
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Opinion: Monetise with metrics

2018 was a challenging year for publishers, and Q1 of 2019 has proved to be no different. With the closure of further high profile publications, and former trailblazers Buzzfeed and HuffPost forced to lay off staff, this has thrown publisher monetisation firmly into the limelight. If publishers want to keep revenue strong in the year ahead, the time to reassess their monetisation approach is now.

In part, this will mean a more effective use of existing tools that publishers already have access to, such as valuable audience data. Publishers can struggle to utilise this data effectively, leaving them unable to demonstrate the value of the premium audiences they attract. This isn’t publishers’ only concern, as they face up against the power of the duopoly, proving the value of their product will be key for all to thrive. The answer is to effectively monetise all tools.

Where are we now?

With The Pool entering administration, Johnston Press putting itself up for sale, and Shortlist shuttering its print offering as the publisher rebranded to The Stylist Group, it’s clear that remaining profitable is increasingly challenging in a more fragmented ecosystem.

The route to developing an online business model that suits each publisher’s specific brand and protects their bottom line continues to divide opinion. Whether it’s adopting an ad supported model or via subscription – The Guardian, The Financial Times, and Condé Nast, to name a few – publishers can experiment as they attempt to successfully monetise their offering.

To start, it is vital that publishers are able to measure and report on inventory performance with proven metrics. Simply understanding whether an ad was served isn’t creating enough impact for advertisers, therefore the idea of a successful ad is gradually moving from the volume of impressions delivered to measurement that guarantees impact. Only with an understanding of granular verification metrics will publishers have the information to more accurately price their inventory.

Time to utilise measurement technologies

Ads must have the potential to be seen if they are to make an impact, which makes maximising viewability crucial for brands focused on optimising returns. Some advertisers and agencies are now setting metrics that work for them, rather than rely on the standard definition of a display ad impression; viewable if at least 50% of pixels are in view for at least one second. Time-based measurement goes beyond binary viewability measures to provide insight into not only whether or not ads are viewable, but also if they are viewable long enough to make an impact.

According to Integral Ad Science’s latest Media Quality Report, the average duration that impressions remain in-view ranged from 7.7 seconds to 14.7 seconds in H2 2018, meaning UK advertisers overall can have an average of 11 seconds to capture attention with their digital ad campaign depending on device and format. Time-based measurement is key in demonstrating value, delivering greater results, and improving effectiveness.

The introduction of advanced viewability measurement is changing the playing field. These enhanced tools negate the need for ‘make goods’ as the publisher has the metrics and insight available to sell the most suitable inventory to the advertiser. These tools also enable publishers with premium content and engaged, loyal readership to mirror precise brand safety set-ups. Being able to guarantee viewable and safe impressions will drive yields up and publishers will be more desirable to work with from the buy-side perspective.

Success for publishers in 2019 will mean greater collaboration and alliances to increase the chance of reclaiming their competitive edge. In addition to promoting transparency, maintaining a willingness to develop custom viewability guarantees, and enhancing site performance, the use of time-based metrics will make publishers’ offering more attractive to advertisers as they look to determine the ROI of each media buy.

Lee Moulding, Head of Platforms, Integral Ad Science (IAS)

About Integral Ad Science

Integral Ad Science helps deliver digital results across the advertising ecosystem. Its ad intelligence allows advertisers and publishers to protect their investments, maximise their impressions, capture consumer attention, and drive business impact. Founded in 2009, IAS is headquartered in New York with global operations in 13 countries.

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