How will local media publishers make it in the coming mobile world? If you ask Chris Lee, president of Deseret Digital Media, it’s native advertising to the rescue.
“Speaking at the recent Local Media Association Innovation Conference, Lee noted that native advertising, which runs in content and isn’t crowded by smartphone screens the way banners are, is the best way to for advertisers to follow consumers who are migrating en masse to the small screen,” writes Kathy Haley of NetNewsCheck.
Lee told conference participants that — basically — all the big boys are doing it.
“Nearly all of BuzzFeed’s advertising revenue comes from native ads,” Lee stressed, adding that blue chip publishers like the Washington Post and Hearst Corp. now offer the format.
Lee put numbers to the challenge publishers face monetizing mobile, noting that a desktop page carrying four ad units per page and each commanding a $5 CPM, can add up to $2 million in revenue, generated by 100,000 pageviews. A mobile page might fit only two ad units, each sold at a $2 CPM, and generate just $200,000 in revenue on the same number of page views.
“Startups are raising all kinds of money for solutions that can help publishers monetize their remnant native inventory,” Lee explained.
Deseret has been offering native advertising at its KSL.com, DeseretNews.com, and FamilyShare.com sites for more than a year. The company expects to earn at least $1 million from its native ad foray in 2014.
Lee told attendees that publishers should strive for a click rate that rivals or exceeds that of editorial. And as for communicating results to advertisers, they should “find a way to measure brand lift in addition to traditional direct response rates.”
“Get a simple survey solution that helps people see the results of their campaigns,” Lee advised.
Where to publish? Lee had ideas on that, too.
“You want multiple access points,” Lee said. “It can’t just live on the home page if 70 percent of your visitors are coming to the content from other sources.”
Lee also stressed that local media needs to be bold as they pursue the new native advertising format within their organizations.
“This is tough,” Lee admitted. “It creates organizational conflict. The editorial side needs to embrace this. They have to leave it alone and not sabotage it or hope it will fail.”