The Case of the Incredibly Shrinking Advertising Value (And $100 Off DPAC III)

As magazine and publisher subscribers move online, you would think that they become more valuable. Content is no longer a static experience, it’s social. Subscribers comment, provide reviews, share with their networks and forward to colleagues. They sign up for email newsletters that arrive frequently, and customize their experience to just the sections and features they enjoy most.

Even though the cost to deliver content is streamlined, the cost to produce it is higher – subscribers demand more timely and comprehensive coverage than ever before. That gives advertisers, editors and publishers lots of opportunities to connect, and lots of data to work with. So you’d think that the CPMs to advertisers would be at least consistent with the old print days, when you put in your creative and hoped that someone paused long enough to read it, let along reply or take action.

Strangely, however, just based on the disparity of CPMs between print and online, subscribers seem to become less valuable to advertisers when they go digital.

Perhaps back in the day when online was a compliment to print or broadcast, this made sense. It was an additional channel. But now, the digital experience is THE experience. Print and broadcast are losing share. And traditional publishers are losing share to “newcomers” like social networks and email portals and online games.

So it’s time to balance out this equation for both advertisers and publishers.

• Advertisers should expect to pay more for the right audience, reached in the right context, with easily tracked and optimized interactive experiences. It was never a good idea to pay more to reach more. It’s always a better idea to pay more to reach the right few.

• Publishers must provide seamless tracking as well as creative integration of advertising messages with the content. Some publishers get close to this in some advertorial and interactive game/survey content. But not nearly far enough. Advertisers will pay to connect with prospects. Publishers must think outside the broadcast model (which just places advertising alongside content and expects conversions), as well as incorporate mobile, social media and online video experiences into their offerings. Produce content that subscribers want to consume, in the format and device that suits their lifestyle.

The good news is, that when advertisers and publishers work together, the subscriber or reader should win. Great subscriber experiences are the only sure way to improve conversions and interaction with editorial and advertising content.

DPAC III will be addressing this central challenge with an all-star lineup on May 12th in New York City. I’ll be there, and recommend it for anyone in publishing, but also anyone who is trying to create great online experiences for customers and prospects. Which frankly, is most of us. We are all publishers of content – be it promotions or news.

DPAC is offering a $100 discount for friends of Return Path. Just use coupon code DPACP512 when you sign up. If you do sign up, let me know — I’d love to meet you!

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