User experience lessons from the Ad Blocker War are shaping both how publishers monetize their sites and the conversations they have with their readers about this. Successful strategies to address ad blocking are emerging and are typically varied. One of the key lessons is that focusing on the user experience challenges that drive ad blocking in the first place, is an effective strategy for improving ad revenues. I’ll explain how in this article, using a case study of a major US tech publication to illustrate the point.
UX, the user experience, once an afterthought for many companies, is now an essential ingredient for success. In fact, nearly 85% of companies are expected to increase their focus on UX in 2016. It is no wonder then, that big players like Facebook, with Instant Articles, and Google, with AMP, have had a recent obsession with creating a flawless experience for their users.
Native advertising is rapidly becoming an attractive ad choice for publishers as display advertising becomes less effective in the face of growing ad blocker adoption. According to a report titled “The Rise of Native Ads in Digital News Publications” published by the Tow-Knight Centre for Entrepreneurial Journalism in 2015 –
User experience has become a marketing industry buzzword but it is so much more than that. Publishers that pay careful attention to user experience will thrive where others fail, increase their ad revenues where others see the opposite.
Engagement, not scale, is becoming the key differentiator between big publishers. According to comScore’s recent “Cross-Platform Future in Focus” report, digital media publishers are growing. About 206 publishers have audiences in excess of 20 million users. Included in those publishers are 21 publishers with audiences approaching 200 million users.
Viewability is a relatively new term in the online advertising lexicon and it has rapidly becoming a significant factor that determines whether publishers, already under significant pressure to monetize their digital properties, will be able to remain afloat and viable or whether they will lose even more revenue and shut down.
For publishers, ad placement is everything. An ad’s placement on a page and even its design will determine whether a user completely ignores an ad and denies you, the publisher, revenue you earn from it. It is also crucial to ensure that your ad placements are not disruptive and intrusive to the user or that you create false floors that are created, inaccurately signaling the end of content. This causes users to miss ads that would otherwise be crucial and helpful. Thankfully, though, there are ways to optimize your ad placement strategy to avoid such issues.