In my post earlier this week, I predicted three types of digital content would be central to advertiser efforts in 2018.
What’s old is new again. Newsletters are super valuable because they are permission-based; your customer has opted into the sales process by subscribing. Our top of funnel marketing activity logically should focus on getting the customer into our marketing ecosystem. Short of an immediate purchase, subscribing to a newsletter is the next best thing. But focus efforts on subscribers who open and engage with the content; scrub deadweight regularly. A large subscriber count is not the goal. What matters is converting the active subscribers into customers.
We have so much data about customer preferences and purchases in the DMP (data management platform). We should be using data to better target content as well as ads. This is the foundational premise of start-up LiftIgniter, an AI driven personalization engine. It promises to deliver more personalized content to site visitors, learning and improving over time to deliver an optimized visitor experience and increasing stickiness. And ad revenues.
I think publishers should take this idea one step farther, and use such technologies to deliver a better branded content experience to visitors. Users outside the target might see an aligned piece of editorial content that is simply sponsored by the advertiser, while readers/viewers who are known to be interested — “in market” — see a more branded, conversion-oriented piece. This would be a win-win. Advertisers would pay premium fees to reach the targeted, qualified audience with no waste, while the casual visitors see top of funnel awareness-oriented content and aren’t turned off by a harder, irrelevant sell.
Podcasting has been waiting a long time to find its critical mass, and the time, it seems, is now. According to the Pandora Definitive Guide To Audio, podcasts will earn $220million in ad revenues in 2017. Slowly but surely, innovators are solving the content discovery and usability issues that slowed growth of the format, and better listener metrics can’t be far behind. Video will always be important, both branded content and editorial video, but I see podcasts as the big growth opportunity for publishers in 2018. They have lower production costs than video, and offer a more even playing field, in which (so far) Facebook has no special advantages.