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The Growth of Multi-Platform Advertising

Multi-platform advertising isn’t a growth strategy, it’s part of survival in the digital age

“Imagine a world in which advertisers can seamlessly serve data-driven ads to the right user at the right time across channels and devices,” writes LiveRail Head of Client Services, Vijay Balan.

“Publishers, partnering with third-party data partners, layer extra data over their unique viewer profiles and get a clear look at who their audiences actually are, allowing their advertisers to get the targeted results of their dreams. … Now wake up. Look around. Is that how it really works? We didn’t think so.”

But B2B media revenues are surging, up 3.3% from $26.7 billion in 2013 to $27.5 billion in 2014. What’s driving the growth? Digital ads, sales of which climbed 15% in 2014, according to research from the Business Information Network, Media Daily News reports. Other publishing-related drivers, in order of market share, include events [1] and subscriptions [2].

Digital ad sales are up, so where is it all going?

The first rule of choosing a business model that’s ad-driven is being sure that you can make more money from advertisers than from your own products. Clay Hall [4] once said to me that the great thing about having your own products is knowing what your ad space is worth. Because why would you let an advertiser buy a space on your site for $12 per M when you can make $15-$20 selling space to yourself?

Many general-interest publishers are making that, or more, with ad space, but they’re doing it in a myriad of ways, across platforms and devices.

Of course, ad blocking is a headache for all publishers, especially on desktop devices. Some respond with heavy-handed tactics like content stinginess and relentless ad roll-out. Others opt into native advertisering. Wired is asking its readers to “‘Please do us a solid and disable your ad blocker. Thanks for supporting Wired!”

The Internet made advertising so … complicated. But also, so entirely dynamic. There are more places now to advertise, than the back page of a magazine issue, 15 seconds in between prime time television series, or a placemat at a local diner.

If you want to sell advertising, the only thing holding you back is is where to put it. Sponsored ads? CPM banner ads? Text ads? CPC ads? Discover every which way you can sell space on your site, and on your multi-platform products. Because there is one way to sell a back page ad on your print magazine, but several advancements you can sell on the back page of a digital magazine. Video? No problem. A list of links? Sure, why not?

Native advertising, as we’ve covered many times before, is the most friendly form of multi-platform advertising.

An interview with Condé Nast Vice President of Marketing Solutions Pat Connolly reveals that the legacy’s digital success has been built on data, content, and distribution – and that the direction for the industry, in his estimation, is sponsored content. Condé’s in-house studio, 23 Stories, helps it accomplish all of those.

Even About.com, who is notoriously a CPC advertiser, is venturing down the sponsored content path. They’re maximizing their “explainer” model to establish a new in-house content studio, according to Digiday. [5] Idea Studios will be composed of eight team members emphasizing data in About.com-style sponsored content. Clients include Disney, Symantec, and Walgreens, according to Digiday.

Metro Parent, has mastered multi-platform advertising by creating a web magazine that is cross-device friendly and opens all sponsored content to the public [6]. It can be promoted on social. This is a huge benefit for subscribers, as they can find the ad in search, and they can click on and share the native ad, even if it’s being read on a tablet or other mobile device.

App advertising, and publishers buying or partnering with app publishers, is happening more often, too.

Time Inc. digital has a new partnership with Etermax, the company that produces game app [7] Trivia Crack. The appeal for Time Inc. is simple: 74 million Americans have downloaded Trivia Crack, many of them categorized as Millennials, and the game will integrate current events news taken straight from Time Inc. digital content, PubExec reports. We imagine ads will be present, at least for their own content, which may be sponsored by native advertisers.

Online video advertising is coming of age, too. Publishers who create video are looking for video hosts that integrate into ad networks [8] or at the very least allow for third-party pre or post roll. That’s because adults in the United States will spend an average of five hours and 31 minutes [9] on video each day, according to eMarketer. Digital devices will see an hour and 16 minutes of that.

While desk- and laptops remain flat, mobile consumption is jumping from 30 minutes to 2014 to 39 in 2015. Still, only 4.4% – $7.75 billion – will be spent on digital video ads. We think that as metrics become more available to the advertisers who demand them, video advertising will become more and more prevalent.

According to data from Live Rail and Digiday [10], 76 percent of desktop video ads are in-stream, while 52 percent are in-banner, and 45 percent are interactive. Interactive mobile video ads are used the least at 25 percent.

An interview with Gannett Vice President of Revenue and Product Management Steve Ahlberg revealed what he believes are the biggest misconceptions about mobile advertising [11]. “The biggest misconception is that you can’t do anything interesting in the space, and that’s been a product of the small standardized units. Marketers are now going with larger size canvases that have full site interactions happen within them,” Ahlberg told eMarketer‘s Rimma Kats. “Additionally, agencies are starting to understand the possibilities within the mobile advertising space, but they’re not quite there yet. … Viewability and accountability metrics are the biggest ones. Was my ad viewable? Did people engage with it? Those are the next-generation metrics that weren’t there on mobile 12 to 18 months ago.”

Research shared by eMarketer [12]coming from YuMe and IPG Media Lab, “Among US internet users who viewed pre-roll video ads on a smartphone—a group that’s often on the go—64% of those who were highly attentive planned to purchase the product advertised.”

Smart phones had the lowest percentage of digital video ad viewers who paid a low amount of attention to the digital ads. This was reported at 23%, while on tablets it was 37% and on PCs it was 34%.

But none of these advertising avenues tower over the most basic ways publishers make money through multi-platform advertising, although they’re sometimes mixed and matched:

What’s great is that all of these advertising options existed long before multi-platform ads, they’re just naturally cross-platform friendly.

Multiplatform publishers can generate revenue from users, from sponsors, or both. Consumer-focused portals that are sponsorship-based ask users to pay – not with money, but with time and information. They spend time viewing web pages and signing up for email feeds, thus creating advertising inventory that can be used to sell the publisher’s products (internal advertising) and/or sold to third-party sponsors (external advertising) on a CPM, CPC, CPA, or SEA basis.

In what other interesting and unique ways are you seeing publishers create multi-platform ads?