Challenges Faced in Monetizing Digital Content

Consumers have shifted rapidly from traditional methods of viewing content to digital platforms ever since online versions of publications have been launched. In 1995, only 0.4 percent of the world’s population had access to the internet. Today, that number has swelled to 56.1 percent. The growth of the internet has had a profound influence on how people consume media as well as the types of content they seek. Given the diversity of content and the plethora of choice before consumers, digital content publishing has truly come of age.

Advertisers and marketers have embraced this dynamic consumer shift to digital and thus far, it has worked to their advantage. Studies have shown that it costs advertisers 61 percent less to market digitally than to follow the traditional method of outbound marketing. The prospect of greater reach within audiences as well as a higher ROI has prompted advertisers to focus their budget as well as attention to digital marketing on various publishing platforms.

While this digital content has immense scope for monetization, it also presents some challenges for publishers. This blog aims to explore some of these hurdles.

Over Monetization

Visitor behaviour is measured in sessions and pages visited during the session, and has a huge impact on revenue- arguably even greater than brand and trust! Page views, bounce rates and sessions rely solely on the visitors on the publishing website, irrevocably causing impact on digital ad revenue. Despite popular belief that the more ads there are populated on a website, the less likely it is for the consumer to interact in depth with the website, visitor behaviour is a far more nuanced metric. Each visitor has a unique personality and a different propensity towards ads. Various studies indicate that visitors from different sources tend to behave differently, leading studies to conclude that there is no fixed average number of ads that need to be shown on a website to reduce bounce rate.

Studies indicate that the perfect number of ads are in a constant state of flux. A/B tests can be deployed to determine the optimum ads for various visitor segments, with metrics like time spent during session, and bounce rate closely monitored to ensure that there is no dip in revenue.

Exclusive Contracts

Advertisers and third parties often urge publishers to sign up long-term contracts that promise a regular revenue stream and fewer logistical challenges. However, there are some implications here that may arise, and warrant more thought.

It may so happen that some of the contracted ads being displayed do not cater to the target audience it is shown on the website, causing them to view it as spam. Aggressive marketing can further restrict user interaction, and restrict consumption of content, causing another dip in revenue.

Ad Fraud

Ad fraud is one of the biggest problems that advertisers and publishers need to grapple with. Fake users, and bots that boost click through rates are set up specifically to tamper with ad units, a major issue that needs to be tackled. All of this can greatly hamper confidence in a publisher and cause advertisers to second guess the declared ROI from any ad campaign. Ad injections (a technique where ads are inserted onto the publisher website without permission or payment) amount to hijacking traffic by displaying an ad over an existing ad, leading to a depreciation in revenue for publishers as well as advertisers. Therefore, it has become increasingly relevant for publishers to tackle such fraud effectively.

Ad Format and Placement

The timing and positioning of an ad impacts user experience significantly. Few ads can be particularly detrimental to user experience. For instance, there are some studies which suggest that anchor ads tend to irritate visitors the most and recommend that they be avoided. Repeated pop-up ads on websites are not well received either and can lead to a higher bounce rate.

Digital ads go hand in hand with visitors- one can’t exist without the other! A step that publishers can take is to engage themselves in a cycle of constant testing and updating ad units to serve as a platform to track user behaviour and trends, a crucial activity to sustain and grow viewership. Understanding and capitalizing the symbiotic nature of advertisers and consumers is a great step towards monetizing digital content- all with keeping brand safety in mind! At the end of the day, we fall back to the saying, consumer is key.