Despite sluggish global publishing revenue trends, India’s domestic demand for print media has propelled the growth of the entertainment and media industry. Not only has circulation for newspapers and magazines in India increased by more than 23 million copies a day between 2006 and 2016, Audit Bureau of Circulation’s (ABC) latest report reveals that print publications are estimated to chalk up advertising revenue worth almost 300 billion rupees ($4.5 billion) by 2021.
But how are digital publishers faring as print edges ahead? With the government’s Digital India, Make in India and Smart Cities initiatives, the rise of social sharing and personalised content discovery, publishers’ ability to strengthen their relationship with advertisers now reaches far and wide.
Online viewership is reaching new levels, as the country closes in on 400 million Internet users. This is where the real growth is happening. And content is driving the need.
In recent times though, with fake news and brand safety putting greater scrutiny on web traffic, publishers need to possess a healthier understanding of advertisers’ needs and backtrack this to their user delivery for the partnership to flourish - and to yield consistent revenue growth.
Get the Metrics Right: Impressions are not everything
One major misunderstanding of key performance metrics is the assumption that revenue is directly influenced by Cost per Thousand (CPMs). The cost of CPM is generally dependant on how much advertisers are willing to pay per 1,000 impressions. However, putting more money for a higher number of impressions does not ensure an increase in revenue if the extra traffic does not convert to sales.
In view of this, what are the right metrics publishers should be looking at instead?
Advertisers generally look to increase their revenue, and will only consider long term partnerships with publishers who are able to help them increase earnings. As such, it is the publisher’s ability to provide a positive Return of Investment (ROI) for clients that matters in the long run.
While 10,000 impressions per day may sound impressive, reporting for instance - 5,000 daily impressions with 1 sale each day would make for a more valuable measure of success.
Useful Content Attract Better Earnings
Recently, the definition of “good content” has been reduced to catch phrases such as “keywords” and “SEO-friendly articles”. However, in order to retain or grow traffic with serious readers who are more likely to be prospective buyers, it is important for advertisers to work with premium publications that can be trusted to prioritise useful content for their readers.
Advertisers in India have been quick to divert spend to social. However, where they are slower on the uptake is how to effectively use social, and this is hindered by a long-standing belief that corporate websites still are the primary channel for customer engagement. Content on social not only needs to encourage engagement and interaction on an individual level, but also multiply a brand’s reach by building a loyal community - and this is important for two reasons.
First, because user-generated content sparks conversation and tends to be shared more organically. Research reveals it is 20% more likely to influence purchasing decisions than other types of content. Second, for the reason that consumers log on to social media platforms for different reasons, and the way in which they communicate within each is unique, so content needs to be created and measured with this in mind. Take for instance, the power of Twitter as a tool to connect with influencers, where brands can re-share their content and engage in conversation with them.
Useful content also means being sensitive to local-language integrations, especially since internet-using native speakers in India have been found to most prefer Hindi content, and Indian language users are projected to continue exceeding the number of English users in the country.
Knowing this, advertisers and publishers must work hand in hand to keep a tab on content consumption habits, track engagement, and identify the most effective networks to optimise their content. Creating content designed primarily for readers will result in higher levels of conversions, and therefore, higher earnings in the long-run.
Create a Smoother Discovery Experience
Given the importance of content, how can publishers help advertisers achieve their goals of increasing revenue?
While the building of mature readership is a positive step for publishers, investment in technologies to evaluate the monetary and non-monetary value of each piece of content is also vital. Readers, for example, visit websites to consume content for very different reasons. These needs can be addressed by discovery, powered by discovery algorithms engineered based on user interest, to help readers navigate to the next piece of content – be it a video, a product demo, or an article – in a way that traditional navigation never could.
At the same time, advertisers must develop smarter distribution strategies that include a good mix of paid social and content discovery to amplify all the media their brands generate. In India, where the cost of inventory has gone down due to growing page-views experienced by publishers, advertisers will find content discovery a more natural, and effective way of advertising and should build their campaigns around that.
Helping readers discover content they can trust to be interesting, relevant, and timely has become more crucial as advertisers grow increasingly selective over the type of publications they choose to work with. For website content, in-depth knowledge of the visitors on the relevant page benefits not only publishers, but the advertisers they have partnered with as well.
The ability to monetize the page, combined with the ability to customise original and recommended content is an invaluable tool in controlling incoming traffic. This benefits both readers who are able to enjoy quality content as well as advertisers who are able to gain access to potential customers, providing a positive and beneficial experience for all.
(Sandeep Balani is the head of India, Outbrain)