As we hop into the new year, lots of publishers are thinking about new ways to generate revenue. For sponsor-driven publishers, creating a unique and compelling ad package is at the top of the list.
The best thing you can offer in an ad package is exclusivity, although few publishers can. Back in the days of print-only publishing, there was little opportunity to be an exclusive sponsor of anything, but what brought them in was a separate but aligned strategy: scarcity. The most scarce and desirable sections of a magazine are the back cover, inside front cover and inside back cover, which go for more than $100,000 each in some magazines and often draw a premium over a run of book page that can be as high as 60 to 100%. And a new element that the web brings to advertisers, moreso than ever before, is alignment. The most successful sponsor-driven publishers we know do very well at aligning the right ads with related content.
When you combine the three: scarcity, exclusivity and alignment, it creates what we call the SEA advertising strategy.
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Imagine you’re Crest toothpaste, and there’s a popular health magazine with a popular category on their free website Portal dedicated to dental health. They publish weekly, and sometimes daily to this Portal category and receive hundreds of thousands of visitors per month to dental health articles.
Now imagine the magazine offers you the opportunity to be the only advertiser on this category page, all the articles in it, and all the email newsletters that go out. They’ll also write custom sponsored content for you, and will create lead generation opportunities. And visitors will never see a pesky Colgate ad as long as you’re the category sponsor.
Sound like a good deal?
It is, and it’s how some of the most successful sponsor-driven publishers we know generate revenue. This little-known SEA advertising revenue model is not leveraged often enough.
Below are seven items that the most desirable SEA ad packages include:
1. Native Ad Development: Custom stories and articles that are informational and useful to the reader, but are sponsored visually and contextually by your advertiser.
2. Web Edition Native Ads: When the custom stories mentioned above are published in your web edition, so that subscribers receive it in their monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly digest. And this content is open to the public so you can also promote it in social media and share it with non-subscribers.
3. Email Extras: A series of emails that promotes the sponsor, which may be provided by the sponsor or you.
4. Email Banner Ads & Email Text Ads: Visual and text-based ads that are displayed between editorial content in daily email newsletters.
5. Web Channel Sponsorship: Exclusive sponsorship of a topic channel, where the only ads displayed are those of the advertiser, and these may display above, to the side, and within editorial content.
6. Social Media Distribution Campaigns: A series of social posts written by you or the sponsor, and hashtagged with #ad or #sponsored according to FTC native ad regulations.
7. Lead Generation Opportunities: Many B2B publishers include lead generation opportunities in their SEA package, letting users know they’re opting into partner emails when they download a related free report.
A side note on generating custom content for your ad package
One publisher we work with creates the sponsored content for their advertisers. In their contract, the advertiser is allowed to re-publish the content on their site. If you’re going this route, it’s important to set up guidelines regarding the content. For this contract, the advertiser can keep the content published for the 12-month period their contract is in effect, and for as long as they are an advertiser.
Key points to remember when creating custom sponsored content:
When you begin creating content for an advertiser, follow this rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t publish it in your magazine or on your free Portal, don’t publish it for an advertiser.
- Create content yourself, because it allows you to have editorial control over the quality of the content and will be a bonus service to your advertisers.
- By creating the content internally, you’re providing value for the reader by sticking to high-quality editorial standards, and will create a positive perception of the sponsor.
- Make sure content follows the same form and possesses the same qualities as any piece of content you publish.
- Formulate clear goals with your sponsor before creating any ads, including email and banner ads that go beyond custom content.
The best part of structuring your packages this way is that it’s beneficial to everyone. The advertiser gets more out of the arrangement than they will from any other magazine they work with. And your ad sales team isn’t running themselves ragged trying to fill every little banner ad slot for pennies. In fact, they can sell these packages at a significantly higher price point, based on website traffic and email subscribers, due to the fact that you’re offering them scarcity, exclusivity, and alignment.
We have a very specific method for leveraging content to build a better ad package for sponsors. If you’d like us to be your coach, we will teach you the Mequoda Method; give you the tools, analytics, and best practices you need to succeed; and cheer as the profits roll in. As a part of a complete business plan and 5-year financial model we build for you, we’ll share what has worked, and what hasn’t for our clients in digital advertising. Schedule a 60-minute call to ask your most pressing questions.
What does your ad package look like? Share your story in the comments.
Over the past two decades, we’ve guided more than 300 niche publishers through the process of transforming themselves from legacy print publishers into multiplatform operations that often dominate their industry niche and generate operating margins that surpass those created by their legacy print business. Learn more about how we can help you apply these strategies to your publishing business by scheduling a FREE consultation today.