Publishers Don’t Have an Ad Problem. They Have A Product Problem.
AdExchanger | December 19, 2018 - Today’s publishers are under pressure from seemingly countless external forces. They face downward pressure on ad prices, consolidation of spend within the duopoly (and now, the triopoly), intermediation by platforms, shortening attention spans and shifting consumer habits. The headwinds are real, the fight is uphill and there is plenty of talk about it.
The one thing that’s not talked about much is the one thing publishers have the greatest control over: themselves.
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
Beyond external pressures, today’s publishers also suffer from inertia. Their products are outdated and maladapted to changes in how we all consume information. Product is a critical part of solving the monetization challenge. Understanding what’s wrong with the product is the first step toward getting it fixed.
Let’s start with the legacy layouts and stagnant experiences of today’s online publications, which make practically no sense to younger audiences who grew up in the digital age.
The homepages of most digital news publications today look like digitized versions of a print newspaper’s front page. There’s competing content scattered across the page, and it’s surrounded by competing ads. Every visitor sees the same selection of headlines, regardless of where they live and what topics interest them most. The headlines might refresh a few times throughout the day, but not often enough to warrant constant return site visits.
On the flip side, if readers fail to visit the homepage on a given day, that day’s headlines are lost to them – no matter how relevant they may have been to their interests.
You’d think I was describing the internet in 1995 – and I am. Many publishers’ mindsets haven’t changed much since the “you’ve got mail” days. But if someone were designing a new app today, such an experience would be unthinkable. So why is this the dominant…