What is ACEM?

What is ACEM

What you’ll learn:

Learn how to measure digital success with a little thing we call ACEM, an acronym that will reveal the health of your entire online publishing operation. We’ll show you how niche publishers can learn from others’ successes and mistakes – and you’ll begin to see your own profitable path forward.


  • Don Nicholas, Founder, Chairman & CEO
  • Kim Mateus, EVP & Client Success Group Leader
  • Bill Dugan, SVP & Client Success Group Leader

Time: 5 minutes, 9 seconds

Related resources:

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ACEM is an acronym that represents the four pillars of the Mequoda Method. “A” for Attract: attracting organic searchers to your website. “C” for Capture: capturing those site visitors by obtaining their email address for an opt-in email newsletter. Engaging, “E,”: engage with those email subscribers in a meaningful relationship. And “M,” Monetize: monetize the relationship in a variety of ways.

We arrived at ACEM because we’ve been in this business since 2004 officially as Mequoda, and since then we’ve been trying to document and simplify the way that we describe the documentation or the observation of what are publishers doing out there that is making them successful online, and what are those who are not successful, what are they doing? So, we really set out to answer that question back in ’04. And, you know, we struggled for a while about how to describe it in a simple way, and our clients really pushed us to say, “Okay guys, this is all fascinating and great, but I need a way to be able to share this information with everybody in the organization in a way that’s simple and that we can all understand.” And, after thinking a lot about it and having a lotta meetings, we really said, “You know, it’s these four things.” And, this isn’t revolutionary, we certainly didn’t invent it. It was born out of an observation of the publishers that were succeeding in the early days online and that’s what we came up with.

ACEM is an acronym that we developed about 10 years ago, that describes the 4 key principles of the Mequoda Method: Attract, Capture, Engage and Monetize. Attract for us, really is the process of reaching out through the search engines, the social networks, etc., primarily these organic sources, and optimizing content on the web, optimizing the way our content is gonna show up on the search engines and on the social networks so that our websites will be visible. Capture, the second principle, is the simple idea that where most websites really stop with trying to get traffic to show up and then skipping right to Monetize, our websites take an interim step to capture an email address, permission to communicate and to subscribe the consumer to some number of email newsletters, dailies, weeklies, specials, spotlights, that they can get on a regular basis, learn about our content, learn about the products that our publishers have, learn about the sponsors that are sponsoring those websites and that then leads into that “E” for engagement. The engagement portion is going to be all about how long we can keep them.

So, just like a magazine publisher or newsletter publisher would measure their health by how they can keep a customer over some period of months or years, we look at retention, retention rates, as a way to measure the success of a Mequoda system, how engaged the customers are. And then last but not least, the “M” in ACEM is for monetization, and this could be commerce, selling subscriptions, selling books, selling events. It could be advertising, directories, classifieds, display, native and we basically again are looking at a per customer basis. We wanna be able to answer the question with the monetization of what’s the customer worth? Two dollars per year, $5, $10. And right now for our current clients, that number can range easily up to $100, and I think the average is probably for most of our client organizations and email subscriber relationship monetizes out at somewhere in the range of $10 to $30 per year

At the end of the day, we’re all trying to attract new audience members to our content, to our websites. We’re trying to capture them so that we can build a permission-based relationship with them. We want to engage them with our content, we’re all in the business of selling content, and so, we should be able to delight our audiences with that content that we sell them, but initially, we’re gonna give some of it away to build our audience and then once they’re at our site and they’re engaging with our content then we can begin that monetization step. So really, ACEM in and of itself was born out of a need to simplify what is pretty complex. I mean, at its surface it’s pretty simple but as soon as you start digging in and understanding it, it’s pretty complex. And, there’s also been like a language developing in this industry, right? It’s still relatively new and people using a lot of different words to mean the same things and what ACEM is able to do is, really again, just simplify it to a level that everybody can understand. And so, when an operator’s communicating with the CEO or anybody in between, they’re all speaking the same language and managing to the same metrics.