As an online publisher, you undoubtedly look at your unsold inventory (or excess, or bonus, or discounted…whatever kind of spin you put on it) and wonder how you can make money with it. In the days of old (circa 2010) you considered putting it up for sale with an ad network. More recently, you may have thought about a Data Management Platform (DMP) to help you extract the “hidden value” in such inventory. Perhaps you’ve even sat down with your counterparts and considered the possibility of a “Private Network” (define it as you will).
But what about your own in-house efforts? To quote J.W. Marriott: “It’s the little things that make the big things possible.” In relation to this post, I take it to mean focus on selling the value of your existing audience, using your existing sales team, NOW—and larger opportunities will eventually emerge.
Here’s what I want you to consider: Make your excess inventory more “relevant,” less “remnant”—and watch it sell. This is the key to improved audience monetization.
It’s simpler than it sounds. Here’s how:
Increase the value of your inventory by stressing the importance of the audience that’s reading it.
Let’s say you have a finance site. Your users are obviously interested in “finance” topics. But, after you’ve pitched all the banks, credit card companies, etc., who’s left to target with your ad sales efforts? Have you thought about luxury automotive companies, consumer tech companies, phone companies, and medical companies? Why would these advertisers be interested in your site? They won’t unless you can show that your audience of users is “relevant” to them. For example, show the luxury car company that your audience is made up, in part, of high-net-worth doctors and lawyers. Or that your users are far more likely to buy consumer tech goods than the average consumer tech user on the Internet. The comScore Bizo Index is just one way to find out information like this.
Diversify your audience presentation.
Think of your audience as a mutual fund. The value of the whole is determined by many specific sectors. Traditional publications used to know a lot about their audience as a result of registration, circ audits, “bingo cards,” surveys, etc. Today, you need to be smarter about gathering such info without crossing the Web’s privacy concerns. Leading publishers can now use audience analytics to identify specific attributes of users that make them attractive to advertisers, leading to new business and, often, a higher CPM.
No room for remnants.
But what about remnant space…isn’t that what this post was supposed to be about? When remnant space is made “relevant” to the advertiser, it’s no longer remnant—regardless of where it appears on your site or how many impressions exist. If the right user is finding the right ad on the right site (preferably yours) pricing is normalized, increasing in some cases, and inventory becomes limited (in a good way). Positioning inventory as remnant is a self-fulfilling prophecy. An advertiser will never pay your asking price if you don’t think it’s worth the asking!
If you make your “remnant” inventory “relevant” over the next month, you will make a value positioning statement to both your team and your advertisers. Do it for the next quarter, and you will begin to increase sales and decrease unsold inventory without the need for a third-party reseller. Do it for the next year and you will make…. Oh, come on. Did you really think I was going to make a prediction 12 months out given the rate at which this marketplace is evolving!
If you're interested in learning more about improving your audience monetization, be sure and check out our resource A B2B Publisher's Roadmap to Superior Audience Monetization.