How to manage advertising in an article-based app

Laurent Gerniers 04-04-2017 How-To

The classic print approach

A large majority of publishers is approaching mobile advertising in the same way as print advertising.

They are selling in terms of reader views or print numbers, translated to mobile, page views or downloads.

With an issue-based approach, readers download the complete issue and the analytics are a confirmation of the page views. Readers are forced to swipe from page to page so they will also be forced to watch the ads.

The safest approach is to sell ads according to the number of downloads and successful publishers even manage to sell page views. From time to time you see interactive ads but most of the time it is but a copy of the print ad, quite often not even optimized for the tablet or phone format.

The article-based approach

Using an article-based app offers publishers the advantage of guiding the reader to specific articles. The reader is more likely to navigate from an overview page to a specific article, so it may seem more difficult to show advertisements. At least that is the perception.

From our point of view the article-based approach is offering even more possibilities for advertising.

First, you can have different overview pages to introduce your content. Pages that readers come back to, to decide which article(s) to read. You can have different overview pages by topic. Each of these pages can then display a banner inviting the reader to go to an ad. That way an ad can be shown in a two step process, with the first step obviously getting much more views. Going to the ad itself would then be the equivalent of navigating to an article.

Secondly you can still ensure that the reader views an ad by inserting it into an article.

If you create articles that are one long page, an ad can be inserted there, or if you use paging for your articles, one of the pages can be an ad as well. As far as the format you require advertisers to adhere to, while you can choose to go for one standard for tablets and another for phones to have the best possible integration with your content, this may be difficult to achieve from a logistical and cost point of view.

If you prefer to offer the reader the option to swipe from page to page horizontally, you can create a collection of articles. Inside that collection, you can then insert one or more ‘ad’ articles.

Again, this ensures that the reader is more likely to view the ads.

You can now also put a value on the position of an ad in a specific article. If an ad is part of an article that is introduced on the first browse page, this ad will be viewed much more frequently than an ad placed inside the 10th article of a browse page for a specific topic. Just like you do in print. Also, similar to offering special ad placement like the inside or back cover in print, you can also offer banners on the main overview page of your app.

What matters on mobile is the number of page views and not the number of downloads. With Newsstand apps you could still argue downloads had a value because new issues were pushed to the device automatically, but Apple decided to kill the Newsstand app in iOS9. Now download on demand has become increasingly important, and you need to manage the size of data your app will use on your reader’s device. This only leaves one criterion to measure your audience: page views.

The Mobile/Web approach

Until now we only tried to align mobile to print in an article-based publishing approach. But mobile is offering far more possibilities, specifically in terms of profile-based advertising.

If you approach advertisers in a different manner for print and mobile, you can consider offering them other opportunities too. 

Advertisers are interested in target groups. The more they can advertise to a precise target group the more they are willing to pay.

Selling subscriptions through a web shop gives you the capability to identify your readers, get to know their preferences, and to categorize them. Using entitlement you can define who gets to see which content or ad. Your advertising space can be sold by reader category!

This can attract new advertisers, but also big advertisers that can optimize their message or offer by target group. You will always have advertisers that try to reach all readers and others that will only be interested in certain segments.

Print ads are temporary: if you read an article in a back issue of a magazine from last year you’ll see the old ads. In digital, however, you can make sure that ads are always up-to-date, even for back issues. It is just a matter of replacing the ads with more recent ones.

The article-based approach also has the advantage that it allows integration of HTML-based content, so it can be integrated more easily with advertising platforms that deliver the content from a central server. Here again there’s a new opportunity for advertising revenue and even less work to integrate it into your app.

In addition to HTML, you can also put video content on an overview page, so a video ad can start to play automatically. In a market where video content is extremely popular this is yet another advantage.

The mobile approach is now closer to ‘web’ than to ‘print’, so you should consider to align mobile advertising with web advertising and not with print.

A page view is basically the same as an impression and you can also value a ‘tap-through’ on a mobile device. For instance, in case you have an ad banner on an overview page, you could value the banner itself in page views, but the ad triggered by the banner would be a ‘tap-through’.

The article-based approach is all about flexibility. You can do way more than with the traditional issue-based approach, it is just up to you to define what you’re going to do and when. You can generate more advertising revenue than before, you just need to define how you’re going to organize your offer.

We would be delighted to exchange some thoughts with you about how to optimize your advertising offer. As usual, you can also contact one of our local partners to discuss.