Undoubtedly, ads are a major part of your publication's survival. After all, in order to keep consumer costs down, you need to rely on ad revenue, and this revenue also allows you to build relationships with local, regional, and national businesses while creating the foundation for credibility. Unfortunately, it can be very easy to allow ads to get out of control, especially in the face of increased cash flow from advertisers.
What's important to remember, however, is the reason why consumers purchase or subscribe to your publication ... to receive relevant information. Whether you run a local newspaper or you produce a statewide publication, your readers are more concerned with what they are receiving for their purchase and subscription dollars, not the ads.
More Relationships, Fewer Ads
As mentioned, advertising is a cornerstone of not only the modern-day publishing industry, but also the online publishing industry. Whether you provide a print version, an online version, or a hybrid, you will need to receive revenue from advertising; however, your relationship with the reader is so much more important.
Think about it: while you gain revenue through ads, the reader feels less and less like a part of the process. Before long, the ads outnumber the value that a reader receives from your publication, and this can result in a denial of subscription renewal, a negative purchasing choice when it comes to direct sales, and damage to your publication's credibility.
How Do You Build a Solid Relationship?
In order to build a deeper relationship with your readers, you first need to examine your data. Data will provide your publication with a wealth of statistics and demographics that can help you know who you are currently succeeding with and who you need to target. Next, your publication should consider what this data says about the content that readers truly want. For example, if your research shows that local-interest stories are more in-demand, then you need to focus on those.
Counter to that, if research data suggests that a higher percentage of readers is concerned with sports, then make sports a priority. In the end, you don't want to fill space with ads, even if they pertain to relevant reader statistics. People are not paying money for your publication in order to view ads that encourage them to spend more money.
Using Your Relationships to Grow Revenue
Think about it like this: yes, advertising revenue keeps cash flow going, and there will be a segment of your readership that doesn't mind, and even looks forward to, ads. Solid journalism, on the other hand, will not only keep readers coming back and subscribers subscribing, but it will also give you the numbers needed to encourage advertisers. If you lose readers and subscribers due to too many ads, you'll face problems on both fronts. Too many ads causes readers to disappear, while not enough relevant content causes readers to decline, leading to too few advertisers. Work to find that balance and you'll see increases on both fronts.