Publishers are contending with new demands from advertisers, which is resulting in a shift in the key factors that drive ad rates and revenues from brands. Many advertisers are becoming disenchanted with page views and instead are looking to engagement as a better metric of whether their ads are being seen and acted on. As a result, publishers are being scrutinized for factors such as how long individual readers spend on average reviewing articles or on the site as a whole. Yet this can spell good news for publishers with engaged audiences and provide another strategy for websites to invest in to increase their advertising revenue streams. How can publishers leverage this trend into bigger ad spend and profits?
Promote Audience Attention
Advertisers are still interested in traffic numbers and may have minimum thresholds that they're willing to work with in terms of where they place their ads. But audience attention - from the amount of time that readers spend on average reading articles on a site to their level of engagement and sharing - is becoming increasingly important.
Does your site have an engaged audience? Highlighting this to advertisers and prospective advertisers can be a serious point of differentiation from the competition. If you're not sure, it's important to begin tracking these metrics to find both competitive advantages and areas for potential improvement.
Invest in Strategies to Keep People Reading
If audience attention is one of the key metrics that your advertisers are considering, making this a key part of your promotional strategies can yield big rewards. Are you taking the steps needed to keep people reading? There are several strategies that have been shown to work. One is a minimalist web design that keeps the focus on the content and eliminates distraction.
Others include embedding value-added content such as tweets and videos among the text to diversify the visitor experience. Another strategy is a long, scrolling design that helps keep readers on the page longer as they peruse related content to a specific article or browse through the editorial for a vertical such as beauty or lifestyle.
Develop Your Editorial with Audience Attention in Mind
The way that publishers are developing and deploying their editorial strategies also plays a major part in keeping readers engaged. Many publishers today are focused on shorter pieces that play well to audiences on mobile devices. But in-depth, long-form journalism that's targeted to your audience's sweet spot in terms of interests is still one of the best ways to keep readers on the page. Developing additional content in the form of sidebars, videos, audio files, and photo galleries can also help keep readers interested and exploring your site.
For publishers that are used to constantly finding ways to drive new traffic, focusing on keeping readers on the page may require a strategic shift. Ultimately, both metrics are important but it's helpful to know that audience attention will provide a useful differentiator in the years ahead. Have you begun the process of investing in your reader retention and audience attention strategies? If not, now's the time to get started!