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Website Monetization: Expectations vs. Reality

There’s a trend in the website monetization world to convey ideas from the marketer’s perspective, completely neglecting the publisher’s point of view. Which is odd because it’s the publisher that creates the content and attracts the audience that the marketers are so eager to get in front of. In fact, publishers have begun forming coalitions (private marketplaces) to gain leverage over the advertisers they’re working so hard to attract.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, one top sales executive can be quoted saying, “Across the online ad industry, Web publishers say they are increasingly feeling pressure to either grow their audiences rapidly to keep themselves on the radar for agencies, or accept selling ads through automated channels where they might fetch lower prices. The trend is at agency level is they want consolidation of partnerships. They want to work with fewer, deeper partners. And you need big audiences. It’s very, very competitive. Twenty-five million uniques is not enough.”
If the larger publishers are complaining about not having enough leverage over the marketers, how are the smaller, more niche publishers supposed to grow their influence? Often times when publishers start down the monetization path, they have little to no idea about what to expect. How much money will I make? How long will it take to make a profit? How much traffic do I need to make it worth it? What are the best monetization strategies for publishers like me? How do I compare to other publishers in my content category? All valid questions that, unfortunately, usually go unanswered.
In the Publisher Roundtable Report, a recent monetization report conducted by Netpop and sponsored by sovrn Holdings and VigLink, the researchers questioned publishers of all shapes and sizes on several website monetization topics, including the following:  where to begin, how to get to the next level, picking an ad partner, the different website monetization options available, and expectations vs. reality. All the findings were extremely insightful, but the one we found most surprising (from a publisher’s perspective) was the expectations vs. reality report.
publisher roundtable report monetization expectations sovrn.com
When asked “Does your monetization ‘reality’ match your initial expectations?” in the Expectations vs. Reality section of the Publisher Roundtable Report, only 24% of publishers answered “Yes”. What’s even more alarming is that 63% of the publishers in question shared that their monetization reality is worse than they had originally expected.

key findings next steps expectations sovrn.com

It’s no surprise that larger publishers find it much easier to use their data to do things like predict revenue, create content strategies, decide which social media platforms are the best fit for their target audience, etc. But our focus is on the core publishing demographic of the Independent Web, the small-to-mid-size publishers hungry for knowledge and the means to achieve their publishing goal:  to grow their influence through their content.
One of the main reasons publishers are underwhelmed by their website monetization experience is because of the lack of education, resources and attention they receive. The world of website monetization is as diverse as the content our publishers create, but it is saturated with marketer-focused media when it should be focusing on what matters most:  the publisher.
That’s why we’ve teamed up with innovative, publisher-facing companies like VigLink, TapInfluence and Netpop to come together and provide our publishers with unique insights into the world of website monetization,content creation, reader engagement, and all the other metrics publishers value.
We’ve been working hard on the next survey, and we’re happy to announce that we’ll be releasing the survey to all sovrn, VigLink and TapInfluence publishers in early May, with results to follow.
The topic of the upcoming Publisher Roundtable Report is reader engagement. More specifically, best practices publishers employ to promote active and consistent reader engagement with their content. Be sure to keep an eye out for it!
Do you have any other topics you’d like to see discussed? If so, leave us a comment below!
 

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