Stop trying to sell multi-platform ads and start selling marketing partnerships as sponsorships
“[Publishers] are not selling ads — they are selling desired outcomes,” David Leskusky, NAPCO Media president wrote in an article for Publishing Executive. The message: advertisers aren’t looking to see their ads in lights anymore, on a webpage, as a full-page four-color ad, unless they’re seeing a return. He also notes that you are less likely to be able to sell an advertiser on an “ad” than on “marketing.”
This is one of may reasons we refer to “ad” packages, as “sponsorship” packages. Your advertisers are more than clients, they’re your partners. Asking an advertiser to pay you a sum of money for a single spot to the right of your homepage is easy for you, but a bit uneasy for the advertiser. Thanks to tracking codes, at least they can see their results.
Multi-platform publishers can get the best sponsorship yield by selling multi-platform advertising packages that are built on the principles of scarcity, exclusivity and alignment and take advantage of the publisher’s multi-platform content program.
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Scarcity – Exclusivity – Alignment (SEA)
Mequoda believes the SEA strategy is superior to traditional strategies that have pundits issuing dire warnings, including cost per click (CPC), cost per action (CPA), cost per thousand (CPM) and directory listings.
Scarcity: Publishers must create positions on their sites similar to the positions they’ve always been able to sell in print – back cover, inside front cover, inside back cover. For the most profitable websites, this coveted real estate might be on your home page, or next to your wildly popular columnist, or your expert analysis of the corn futures market.
Exclusivity: In Mequoda land, exclusivity on websites is created by selling that scarce advertising position to only one sponsor for an extended length of time – one month, six months, one year. This instantly creates competition for that position and adds value for the advertiser – and revenue for the publisher.
Alignment: Technology allows every advertiser to access positions next to highly relevant content. But it’s highest for the niche subscription website publishers we advise, because their tight focus on specific topics gives them an advantage over general interest publishers.
SEA-friendly multi-platform advertising units
SEA-friendly sponsorships are a much different mindset than selling a set of ad placements on your home page. Philosophically, we believe publishers are best served shifting the conversation away from things like impressions and creating marketing packages that involves several of the below items, most importantly, sponsored content.
- Sponsored content distribution
- Portal and email extras
- Email newsletter sponsorship – banners and text ads
- Audited magazine display ads
- Native magazine sponsored articles
- Social media campaigns
- Lead generation opportunities
- Enhanced directory listings
We think sponsored content is the most important tool of all, because you’re not selling ads, you’re selling marketing. You’re not saying “let me sell you ad space,” you’re saying “let’s talk about your content goals and message development – and let’s work in conjunction with your experts and our experts to write a series of great articles. And let’s make a media package that drives traffic to those articles.”
When sponsored custom content works best
- Show advertisers successful sponsored content examples that have worked for past sponsors.
- Give them editorial guidance so content satisfies their needs, and the needs of your readers.
- Appeal to their need for content – allow them to re-publish the content on their own sites (use canonical tags to avoid duplicate content).
- Integrate sponsored content into your workflow, including them in a larger ad package that includes social, email, and portal promotion.
- Create a web magazine so you can more effectively promote sponsored content. Even TIME has a web magazine now, and we’re guessing their advertisers have something to do with it.
Best of all, with the multiple advantages it offers, the SEA strategy helps those who aim to build the most profitable websites to combat the gradual decline in revenues from online advertising sold in those traditional ways – the trend of “print dollars” turning into “digital dimes,” as the saying goes.
Measured by benefits to both the advertiser and to the subscription website publisher, the all-important scarcity is pretty love for most traditional advertising strategies but CPM advertising, which at best is only moderate. Exclusivity and alignment vary among the traditional strategies, but using the combined power of SEA the sponsor gets the benefit of top marks for all three.
And how does this new multi-platform advertising model benefit subscription website publishers? It doesn’t require labor-intensive sales, and thrives on loyalty due to the scarcity, exclusivity and alignment of the product you’re offering them.
How are you currently transitioning from selling ads to sponsorships?