Login is restricted to DCN Publisher Members. If you are a DCN Member and don't have an account, register here.

Digital Content Next


InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

How publishers can build visitor relationships to drive more revenue

October 24, 2022 | By Michael Yeon, Vice President of Sales & Marketing – Admiral @getadmiral

Over the years, technology has enabled many in the digital advertising ecosystem to sit behind the proverbial curtain and collect visitor data to drive everything from monetization to UX. Oftentimes these interactions are conducted without the user’s knowledge or permission, which for years has been par for the course. One advantage that publishers have over others is that they already have a direct, trust-based relationship with their audiences. 

And, without a doubt, relationships are key to navigating this new ecosystem. Relationships matter. Building and managing relationships with visitors will lead to revenue continuity and growth for publishers. Based upon our experience working with thousands of publishers, we see distinct advantages for publishers who build relationships with their audiences. Following are insights and best practices every publisher can employ to drive more revenue per visitor through better relationships.

Identify and build valuable audience segments

Publishers should recognize that site visitors are not homogeneous. They must work to identify segments of traffic to better understand and leverage the potential value of specific cohorts and how to engage and communicate with them. 

For example, if you don’t have an email newsletter, now’s the time to invest in one. If you do, focus on growing it and leverage it as a marketing tool to sell paid subscriptions and memberships, or solicit donations. Users of Admiral’s Transact subscriptions module have found, email newsletter subscribers are two to three times more likely than non-subscribers to purchase a paid subscription. 

Here’s a possibly surprising example: adblock users may be your most valuable visitor. Publishers who are empowered to ask users to turn off an ad blocker to support the content actually deepen their relationship with audiences. Users that elect to allowlist consume three to four times more pageviews than standard visitors of the site. The act of allowlisting is a purely altruistic show of affinity and a big thumbs up for your content and brand. 

Communication is key

It’s often said that the basis of a healthy relationship is good communication. If you have a great article worth sharing with your audience you don’t bury it at the bottom of the page. Rather, you place it on the homepage, top-of-fold, and amplify it on every social channel. The same goes for every value exchange that you’re putting in front of your visitors. 

This becomes abundantly clear when looking at results from engagement based adblock recovery (asking users to allowlist) vs. ad-reinsertion based recovery (serving an ad-lite experience). One of our publishers was already using Acceptable Ads reinsertion, however they realized that running engagement based recovery in tandem with AA would yield a significant increase in recovered revenue and achieve the added benefits of full-stack recovery.

Unlike Acceptable Ads, which is limited by the AA’s ad-lite standards, engagement based recovery unlocks the publisher’s entire ad stack including high-value ad units. For example, engagement is the only way to unlock video ads as there is no AA standard for video ads. Adblock users who allowlist are monetized at 100% CPMs, and for publishers who spend time, resources, and effort to maximize yield, this is a critical point of difference. Acceptable Ads is also limited to users of AA supported blockers and among this audience, only users that have agreed to see Acceptable Ads. 

Most importantly, engagement relies on trust and transparency through building relationships to achieve the end goal of monetizing adblock users.

Start engaging 

We worked with the publisher to employ an engagement strategy that targeted adblock users with a configured CTA to allowlist the site to show support. The Engage message offered a continue-path for users who elected not to allowlist at the time. For any users that decided not to allowlist (and were using an AA compliant blocker + agreed to being served AA), Acceptable Ads was enabled.

  • The combo of Admiral + AA monetized 200% more impressions per day than AA alone 
  • Engagement recovered 55% more revenue per day than AA
  • Engagement delivered 1,500% higher RPMs than AA

Frequency of engagement is another question often asked by our customers when deciding how often they should be asking a visitor to take action. 

Another client who was reluctant to engage their adblock users, built their user journey to ask adblock visitors to allowlist the site every 30 days (not recommended). Once they became comfortable with the idea of making the ask, by simply increasing the frequency to every seven days resulted in tripling the recovered revenue. Emboldened by the results they increased the frequency to once a day (which is still an ultra conservative time interval) resulting in a 5x revenue recovery increase from the initial settings.

As we head into Q4 during uncertain economic times, publishers are carefully evaluating both near and long term monetization strategies. Converting relationships into revenue can start immediately or pay dividends far into the future. The first step is to come out from behind the curtain. It is essential that publishers step up their communication with visitors, which allows them to establish and improve the value exchange.

Liked this article?

Subscribe to the InContext newsletter to get insights like this delivered to your inbox every week.