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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

What if publishers could see the revenue value of their content in real-time?

March 28, 2017 | By Dennis Yuscavitch, Director of Product Marketing—Outbrain @dennisy

More content is being produced and consumed than ever before. However, one of the biggest obstacles to success for publishers today is the inability to fully understand the value of their content. Yes, publishers are getting more and more data. But with so many different types of ads, targeting, and decision-engines running on a publisher’s site, the revenue generated from a piece of content has become impossible to retrieve beyond general averages.

In fact, as we have previously noted, most publishers merely settle for what’s available (averages) rather than what’s needed (real-time values). However, as we all know, a data-driven business cannot run on averages. That would be like trading stocks based on the average over the past week while someone else is trading based on precise real-time values.

Add to this the silos between the editorial and ad ops and you have an ad stack and content stack that don’t talk to one another.

The Opportunity

So, how can publishers harness bridge these gaps and work smarter? There are three significant opportunities for publishers in this challenging landscape. Those that tap into these will be empowered to do more than simply survive. They’ll have a competitive advantage.

1. Use Data to Fuel Audience Insights

Data should be the glue that connects publishers to their audience. It should enable them to serve more personalized content and enhanced user experiences, so they can better compete with social media platforms. Data should flow between publisher Data Management Platforms, network insights, and 3rd party data providers via APIs. This enables publishers to connect their content with their user and deliver customized experiences based on content type, device and location.

2. Connect Content and Revenue

Publishers need to connect content and revenue so that content can be personalized and optimized for yield. There is currently a lack of understanding about the true value of content. This doesn’t mean the total value of content. Instead, it means knowing the exact value of any article or video at a single point in time and the ability to take meaningful action based upon that insight. When content is a publisher’s currency, and each click is the trigger for revenue, a publisher must connect what they are selling (advertising) with the content that accompanies it

3. See a Holistic Picture of All Revenue

Lastly, publishers need to understand revenue from all sources in a single dashboard, not as individual boxes on the page. Once publishers have access to these insights, they can further optimize to the correct partner, referral source, or set of specific pieces of content to maximize additional revenue. Simply adding more paid links as a way to generate more revenue is sure-fire way to disappoint users, while being counter-intuitive to the principles of yield optimization.

The Power of the Complete Picture

Partners with expansive network insights as well as multiple paid relationships and networks can help publishers meet revenue goals. This model has played out over the last decade, beginning with display and evolving over time to include native, sponsorship, ecommerce and even off-platform distribution. However, the majority of publishers have not yet brought those revenue sources together into a single, manageable view to that they can take direct actions that are maximized for each piece of content.

Connecting content with revenue allows publishers to understand how much RPM value their Facebook referral traffic is delivering compared to all of their other sources. Yield teams can understand which partner delivers the most value. Audience development teams can launch campaigns based on feedback from ad operations about under-delivering sponsorship campaigns. Executives can see how revenue goals in real-time, all based on the connection between revenue and content.

Publishers must break down the walls that are typically built up between revenue and editorial teams. Real-time insights allow them to personalize the content experience, while also considering the value of each piece content. It is clear that publishers need to leverage the appropriate tools and strategies to achieve this level of insight and opportunity.


Dennis Yuscavitch has spent the last several years creating and launching new product, most recently with Outbrain as director of product marketing. When he’s not making publishers and advertisers happy he’s often coaching his local youth soccer team. The consummate early adopter, you can find him online @dennisy or via LinkedIn.

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