In a primarily digital environment, audiences are clamoring for higher-quality content than ever, accessible through mobile devices. With a preference for free over premium content, publishers must find a balance between what works in terms of profitability and what users will be comfortable with, in terms of customer experience.

Advertising is one of the reasons publishers are able to continue to provide content for free. However, as more users are finding advertising obtrusive, they're turning to ad-blocking options so they don't have to see ads, which can admittedly look unattractive, especially with volume.

The Publisher's Dilemma

If you run a website or application, you may be faced with a dilemma as to how to monetize content. Unless readers are viewing and clicking ads, revenue potential can be dramatically impacted.

To illustrate, Been Choice recently launched on the iTunes App Store. The free app lets users block ads and trackers found in iPhone apps and within the Safari browser. Users also have the choice to view the ads, and when they opt to keep the ads viewable, can get paid for letting the ads through and sharing information.

With an increasing preference for an ad-free experience, publishers will need to look for a sustainable way to deliver content and monetize it without turning off the audience. Fortunately, you have several ways to get around ad blocking technology and even circumvent ad blindness without sacrificing usability.

Make Money Even When Ads are Blocked: Try native ads

Perion's engagement and monetization suite, CodeFuel, helps publishers create new revenue streams and engage users by positioning targeted content in multiple formats without sacrificing the user experience. This translates into users spending more time on your site and exploring more pages, which in turn help boost revenue. Ads can be placed in search, within text, in video, in the design elements, and in tags, so you have multiple earning opportunities. Best of all, the platform is responsive so it provides a great user experience regardless of device or screen size.

Leverage the use of images.

Images communicate and draw attention better than standard text. These are frequently seen with articles and blog posts, and are especially popular on social media. By incorporating marketing campaigns with in-image solutions that are contextually relevant and offer superior user experience, you can attract more views without disrupting the user experience. With in-image advertising platforms like imonomy, ads do not get filtered out by ad blockers.

Since images are already a natural part of the content, audiences are less likely to be "ad blind" with these images. The system uses content recognition technology to ensure the in-image ads are matched to the topic of the content, creating a relevant experience for the user. In addition, using such contextual and relevant images also helps to make your content more attractive and the improved user experience translates into improved click through rates of 1.3% to 2.5% compared to less than 0.1% with traditional display ads.

Premium content

Whether implemented through a subscription based model, or in-application purchases, this approach allows for a certain amount of content to be free, while charging for the higher-value content. Popular websites like the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times use this approach, offering a limited number of article views before requiring a login or subscription. Some publications provide access to whitepapers or longer-form content to subscribers only.

Such a model works well in a number of other areas, such as online gaming. Zynga and King, for instance offer in-game bonuses at a variety of price points. This can be compared with productivity platforms like Dropbox, Office 365 and Google Drive. You can access the basic service for free, but you need to pay a regular subscription to get a larger space allocation.

Premium subscriptions create a win-win situation for both company and customer, by providing the customer with value and providing the business with a certain amount of predictable revenue. It's flexible and scalable, and helps build relationships with customers.

Sponsored content

You can also make money with sponsored content in the form of advertorials. This is a popular monetization method for publishers, who want to maintain control of their content to keep their readership happy, while also earning a living from content without relying on ad revenue alone. A platform for sponsored posts like Coopertize can help publishers reach more agencies and brands to monetize their site better. The Media Buyer's Guide to Sponsored Content shows that 25% more customers look at sponsored articles than they do display ads.

Affiliate marketing

If you have good readership numbers, affiliate marketing is another good option to monetize your content. Affiliate marketing isn't going to create a steady stream of revenue overnight, but it essentially allows you to earn a portion of the sale for any items purchased through affiliate links. Global B2C e-commerce sales are projected to reach $2.3 trillion by 2017, and you can earn a chunk of that change by promoting products and services that are a natural fit with your audience. Affiliate networks like CJ can boost publisher's revenues and traffic by connecting websites with merchants and affiliate who drive traffic and advertise their websites.

So yes, while publishers are struggling to generate revenue with traditional display advertising because of ad blockers, there is no shortage of ways to bring in a steady revenue stream. It may take more creative, out-of-the-box thinking with additional planning, but you can succeed even when audiences are ad-averse.

Published on: Jan 22, 2016