Social media is driving as much as half of the traffic to some web sites. How can publishers capitalize on that? With targeted, intelligent advertising, of course.
1. The Primary Sources
There was much ado (about nothing, according to some folks in-the-know) recently when Facebook changed its algorithm to make links offering "high quality" content more prominent to its users. Some sites, like Mental Floss, actually benefited from the change.
Facebook's younger brother in social media, Twitter, has no such algorithm. People choose who they will follow and all tweets are displayed in chronological order.
These twin towers of social media represent a rich source of traffic acquisition for web site publishers. For many websites, social media feeds are more important than the home page.
2. Monetizing Social Media Traffic
Publishers are boosting their bottom lines with an advertising strategy directed at people who arrive at their sites via social media. For example, The New York Times, a well-known name in old school media, sells ad packages targeted specifically to people who arrive at its site via new school media, such as Twitter and Facebook.
In fact, there is enough of a demand for revenue enhancement driven by social media referrals that, unsurprisingly, there is already a company that specializes in it. The tech company, 33Across, offers software that displays an extra ad to people who arrive at a site from Twitter, Facebook, or Google. Fortunately for those people, the ad isn't obstructive and annoying. Instead, it scrolls in from the left and leaves the text of the article visible. So, it creates an opportunity for the publisher to earn more money without being user hostile.
The ads don't have to be boring, either. They can include rich-media content such as video. That's an eye-catcher to people even completely absorbed in the content of the article.
According to the CEO of 33Across, Eric Wheeler, the ads are seeing a 1.5% click-through rate, which is compelling evidence that they're effective. "When people come through search or social media, their site behavior is kind of frustrating because they come in, see the page and leave," Wheeler said. "We're reaching them when they come in."
With the advent of social media, website publishers received an additional source of traffic apart those who simply bookmark their homepages. It's important to leverage those traffic sources for additional revenue. Fortunately, there is software to help with that.