Could there be anything worse than a slideshow on a website?

Pagination is always important on the internet. We’ve all been stuck sitting through a list of top ten “coolest dogs in beret’s” and having to click the “next” button ten times gets particularly annoying. The biggest online culprits when it comes to using a slideshow on a website include Business Insider and Forbes.

It makes sense for a publisher, you’re easily able to increase your pageviews. For advertisers it’s annoying as their inventory gets depleted on useless clicks. Readers are probably more focused and are therefore ignoring the adverts. The setup is doubly annoying for readers as they have to click through multiple pages of content and wait for adverts to download before they see the content. The only group really winning is the publisher and this is a trend that will hopefully not go on for much longer.

Suddenly instead of a handful of adverts served you’ve got ten times the amount. It’s not entirely a legitimate process.

Digiday went and looked at their top three “offenders” and their misuse of the concept.

How the slideshows are misused in digital marketing

Forbes

  • 4 IAB display impressions per slide.
  • 10 slides.
  • 40 impressions total.
  • = 4 ads per slide.

Bleacher Report

  • 4 IAB display impressions per slide, not all refresh with every click.
  • 9 slides.
  • 20 impressions total.
  • = 2.22 Ads per slide.

Complex

  • 2 IAB impressions per slide.
  • 101 slides including intro slide.
  • 204 impressions total.
  • = 2.02 Ads per slide.

With the growth of native advertising we will see less of this type of advertising and it’s interesting to see that the likes of Buzzfeed don’t use slideshows. Publishers, are you still doing this and do advertisers accept this? We think it’s a poor tactic but we can also see the benefit for publishers.

This approach to presenting content has one goal in mind: making money for the publisher. If it were aimed at the consumer it would have looked at how to make they digital experience more enjoyable.


What sort of writing resources do you need as a publisher?

It’s an interesting discussion: how many writers does it take to provide a usable amount of content for a website? Can one writer provide ten items of content per day at a quality level? If that’s the benchmark does a writer who provides five extremely high quality articles provide more value to a publisher than one average writer that provides ten articles per day? Basically: how much of publishing is a quality game and how much is a numbers issue? Where do you find the writing resources to help you succeed when it comes to creating top quality content.

Publishers were always focused on quality over quantity, that was until the likes of Huffington Post started pumping (and we mean pumping) out content. The company has 532 full-time editorial staff producing about 1,200 pieces of content per day (and that’s not including the 28 full-time blog editors who oversee the 400 pieces of content per day coming from its blog). All this content generates 43 million pageviews per day.

It’s a matter of inevitability: if you’ve got a business model that values pageviews then hitting a high level is your only option. We’re not saying the higher your pageviews the lower quality your content but there is a definite drive towards higher numbers, no matter the cost.

Digiday did a great expose on how many contributors large publishers require to push out high levels of content:

New York Times: 1,100 newsroom: 350 pieces of content per day (per September 2010): 17.4 million pageviews per day.

Huffington Post: 532 full-time editorial staff: 1,200 pieces of editorial content per day. 28 full-time blog editors: 400 blog posts per day: 43.4 million pageviews per day.

Buzzfeed: 100 full-time editorial staff: 373 pieces of editorial content per day: 6.4 million pageviews per day.

Slate: 40 full-time editorial staff: 60 pieces of editorial content per day: 2.4 million pageviews per day.

The Awl family of properties: about eight full-time staff: (including The Awl: 2; The Hairpin: 1.5; The Billfold: 2; Splitsider: 2.2): about 60 pieces of editorial content per day (The Awl: 20; The Hairpin: 12; The Billfold: 11; Splitsider: 16): 64,000 pageviews per day for TheAwl.

Business Insider: 70 full-time editorial staff: 300 pieces of editorial content per day: 2.5 million pageviews per day.

To put this into context: the New York Times has three people for every piece of content they publish daily. This is in stark contrast to Buzzfeed where each writer publishers around 4 articles per day.

We’re not here to discuss whether content online is a quality or quantity game but it is interesting to note that there is no distinct correlation between size of editorial team and quantity of content produced. Smaller publishers can rejoice and fight against the big boys.

TOP TIP FOR GETTING CONTENT: Everyone who is trying to make a success of their digital marketing efforts needs to quality content. To find new ideas every single day you can simply set up Google Alerts based on keywords related to your industry. Your mailbox will receive articles on a daily basis to help you in creating new and engaging content for your users. The efforts you put into creating top quality content will have a couple of great spin-offs:
1. It will improve your search engine rankings for a range of keyword terms related to your industry
2. You will end up getting more and more traffic to your website
3. Your potential for earning from your affiliate marketing efforts will increase
4. Most importantly you will be engaging your visitors and offer them the information they are looking for


Should SEO be part of the marketing department?

If you think back to the days of the first websites for companies: the development was almost always led by the technical department. These days it’s on someone in the marketing departments KPI’s for the year to ensure that the website is constantly update. We’re happy to get the IT department to develop a site but we don’t trust them with the layout, design or content.

The same is true for SEO. We exclusively trust the marketing department to come up with an SEO strategy and while we, on the odd occasion, might trust the IT department to do the hard graft we don’t want them to go near anything “creative”. Generally we outsource our SEO to a third party that knows very little about your company. If you consider that the marketing and sales departments are usually separate in a company you can see a potential problem putting SEO purely in the hands of the marketing department.

If sales are being fed the leads and marketing is unaware of the quality of these leads is there really a point in putting money into SEO?

It should be a joined up process that might start with digital marketing and PR but which should end with your sales department feeding back information about the quality of leads and volume of new business that SEO instigates. Thankfully SEO as a term being phased out of many marketer’s vocabulary, with €˜content marketing€™ and online PR€™ the two front-runners as its replacement. Surely that change indicates a need to move towards a more integrated approach?

The situation is especially bad when using multiple third parties. The PR company doesn’t inform the SEO (content) company what is happening and the marketing and sales departments fall flat. It doesn’t have to be like this!

A working example of the benefits of taking this approach is when a brand’s PR agency is running a campaign that is generating a lot of coverage then the SEO agency should be informed of this in order to ring around the publications where coverage has been gained and turn these mentions into links.

SEO, PR, advertising, marketing and sales teams are ultimately all working towards the same goal: to generate new business.

It’s time to stop seeing different departments as the enemy when it comes to SEO. If you continue to see SEO as a purely marketing function, you might as well be flushing your cash down the toilet.

You should consider the look of the marketing department

A move away from working in silos will result in a more cohesive image of the business being portrayed. Working in collaboration helps all facets of the business to grow continuously. Taking an approach where the successful total is the sum of all the moving parts, you will be able to build a long term sustainable department.


Is Native Advertising the lowest form of digital marketing?

Native advertising is just different

Native advertising or sponsored content is all the rage at digital agencies and publishers around the world. In the days of magazines we used to call this type of content an advertorial.

Native advertising is seen as the saviour of online publishers who have seen their traditional revenues destroyed by digital platforms such as classifieds and banner advertising.

Native Advertising is getting a massive bump from big publishers such as Buzzfeed. In a keynote speech at this year’s SXSW, CEO Jonah Peretti criticized banners as a medium that “do not tell a compelling story.” Native ads, he argued, are much more compelling.

The problem Peretti hasn’t quite worked out (despite making a ton of money via Buzzfeed) is that any advertising medium can tell a story: it’s an issue of wanting that story to be told.

The biggest problem with Native Advertising in its current form is relevance. With a site such as Buzzfeed where their most popular content is made up of lists of the “top 10 cutest cats on the internet” finding a brand can sponsor this topic is limited. We’re not going to see a financial brand or something equally serious such as an automotive or telecoms brand being behind this type of sponsored content.

Relevance is key

A recent sponsored story on The Atlantic’s business site Quartz from Adobe called “How encrypted video is redefining the mobile experience” is of genuine interest.

But if you’re not going to have relevant content with your native ads, you might as well buy banners.

Digital advertising is plagued by imperfect measurement. The “click-through rate” or CTR is used by advertisers, not because it is particularly meaningful, but because it’s very easy to measure. Things like sales impact are more difficult.

If included as part of a marketing mix and the content is highly relevant then Native Advertising makes a lot of sense as it’s currently receiving higher click through rates than banners. Done right Native Advertising is powerful, done wrong it’s basically invasive.

Will it work for everyone?

In our honest opinion the answer is no. The type of content that typically attracts a lot of interest through this medium is not always business related. It can play a role in helping to build the digital brand presence of a company though.

As a tool to directly drive sales or to generate leads it will sadly fall flat on its face more often than not. If you want to use it for lead generation or generating sales though it would need to be for well converting high value products or services. Otherwise there would just not be enough margin it in it.


Tactics publishers use to increase pageviews

recession_busting_tactics_for_online_publishers_1238162434

Publishing is a tough business. Our favourite quote on the topic is how “we’ve traded analogue dollars to digital cents” by the head of AOL, Tim Armstrong. While we’re ultimately here to help publishers monetise their platforms we thought we’d look at some amusing tactics publishers use to up their pageviews and ad exposure:

Slideshows

Rarely is Web content best presented through the medium of slideshow, but that doesn’t stop some publishers from using them at every given opportunity to help boost pageviews and ad impressions. Why present users with a single, easily scrollable page of content when you can force them to click nine times and bombard them with banner ads in the process? Notice a publisher like BuzzFeed, which doesn’t sell display ads, doesn’t use slideshows.

Autoplay video

Another example of a practice that users hate and publishers love. Advertisers like video ads, and publishers can still charge a premium for them, almost regardless of the context they’re served in. The easiest way to boost your video inventory? Don’t wait to see if a user clicks play; just start streaming anyway. There’s nothing worse than suddenly hearing sound coming through your computers speakers!

‪Pop-ups and pop-unders‬

‪Browser-based pop-up blockers thankfully managed to eradicate most of them, but some pop-ups still seem to slip through the net. Netflix is a big fan of the pop-up format, or at least its affiliates are. And anyone who frequents torrent sites or the more dimly lit corners of the internet will be all too familiar with MacKeeper ads, too. Thankfully no publisher worth their salt will do anything like this. If you see this, chances are you’re doing something dodgy!

Pagination

A personal pet hate: a 700-word article could easily be published on one page or two. Some publishers would rather opt for two because that would double the ad impressions. Most users, on the other hand, would probably rather just scroll than click. This is very similar to slideshows and drives us mad when there is a paragraph on the second page.

Auto page refreshes

This one’s pretty simple: Instead of loading a Webpage and the ads placed on it just once while a user reads it, why not refresh it every 30 or 60 seconds instead? Think of all those extra impressions! It’s like printing money. Sort of.

“Aggregation”

Some online publishers take another site’s content, add some value or further the discussion around it, and republish it on their own site to the benefit of their audience. Others will simply publish a headline and a summary sentence before linking to the source, and serving three or four ads in the process. It’s a cheap, quick, and easy way to boost pageviews and impressions.

We’re not saying avoid these tactics entirely however we do know this is the fastest way to annoy a user!

The good side effect of increased pageviews

Many publishers try to increase their pageviews for the sole purpose of increasing income from CPM campaigns. If you target more human visitors and not just simply pageviews on their own, you will see that there is also an increase in your other affiliate marketing efforts.

Getting tracking with a website is a mammoth task, but definitely one that can be achieved. If you generate more leads or more sales you will see your income jump much faster. Although CPM and CPC campaigns look like an easy option, their earning are always minuscule.


Content Locking to Increase Affiliate Revenue

For those affiliate marketers looking to increase affiliate revenue via the growing incentive CPA market, content locking may be the answer. The concept is simple: content locking is a way for affiliates to earn additional income by “locking” their desired content behind a CPA offer. It works like this:

A visitor finds a website that contains informative content. The visitor reads a few lines, but the majority of content is blurred out and hidden behind a pop-up window. If the user wishes to have access the rest of the desired content, he/she needs to complete an action (fill out a survey, submit an email address, purchase a product, etc.).

content locking as part of affiliate marketing

Is content locking right for you?

To successfully increase income using content locking, the web site (or blog) needs information that visitors covet. The content should be desirable enough that visitors willingly complete the offer to get to the text or download. Sites that naturally work well with content locking include those that sell content such as: movie trailers, gaming guides, funny videos, etc.

Not all offers can be used with content locking software; in particular only incentivized offers are acceptable. Most CPA offers do not allow content locking.

To learn more about using Content Lock Pro with OfferForge, contact your account development manager today.