When publishers consider the size of the digital audience they can deliver to advertisers, the focus is typically on who is visiting their site. But ultimately, success is going to be based on the percentage of that audience that made it over to the advertiser’s site. One of the disadvantages that publishers face is that advertisers often aren’t transparent about their own audience numbers—or they simply don’t know.
If the publisher does not have the tools to analyze how its advertiser’s web audience increases and or how many leads a campaign generated, they’re unlikely to get credit for all that hard work. What’s worse is that publishers typically get undervalued for their lead generation work. How so? We all know that advertising is not as simple as “you run an ad,” “the client sees the ad,” and “the product gets bought.” The concept of branding would not exist if that was the way things actually worked. All ads would be direct response, despite the reality that the vast majority of responses to advertising comes after an extended period of branding (when familiarity develops)—not the first time a consumer sees a product.
More often than not, a consumer will build a brand preference after years of seeing ads on a publisher’s site but never click on an ad. But eventually, they could have a need for the product and decide to buy a brand they trust. When this occurs, they turn to Google to access the product, and Google gets credit for the lead, while the publisher gets none. Is there an advertising company in the world that gets more credit for other’s people work than Google?
When a company uses multiple advertising vehicles, identifying which specific one is working is nearly impossible because of the branding paradigm described above. The medium that gets the credit is often the last point of attribution when the consumer finally decides to make a purchase.
In the old days, this medium was the yellow pages. Today, it’s Google, and on top of that, most companies use Google Analytics to analyze their site data. Isn’t it convenient that the largest provider of digital ad services also handles all of the analytics reporting? Even if Google isn’t the best for an advertiser, because they are the analytics provider, it seems like Google is a mandatory part of the ecosystem. And, unfortunately, traditional publishers play almost no role in the advertiser’s analytics ecosystem.
How Publishers Can Enter the Analytics Ecosystem
Gold Coast, a 53 year-old regional lifestyle magazine based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is using its partnership with Mirabel’s Marketing Manager, a visitor identification software platform from the makers of the industry’s leading Magazine Manager publishing CRM, to help solve some of these issues. In order to compete in this digital ecosystem, Gold Coast is playing a more important role than simply running display ads on its website.
To develop a deeper relationship with its advertisers, the magazine has begun to package web visitor identification and lead identification services using Mirabel’s Marketing Manager as part of its premium advertising buys. This additional service is billed to the client at no charge for the first year of service. While it’s a great incentive to advertise with Gold Coast, providing these analytics also serves numerous other purposes.
First, the staff at Gold Coast is developing a deeper understanding of a client’s business because the platform allows it to monitor the client’s web traffic and understand how different traffic sources serve the client. Plus, since Gold Coast is concurrently working to form a digital marketing division, accessing a client’s web stats opens the doors for its team to make recommendations and offer other services.
Secondly, Mirabel’s Marketing Manager is able to append valuable information to each website visitor, such as their company name, incoming traffic source, and even the visitor’s social media profile. For example, for Gold Coast’s veterinary services client, it tracks who is downloading the coupon posted on its site and appends information about each web visitor. Data points include which pages were clicked and who shows the most interest based on digital behavior in lead scoring reports.
Once a client’s website visitors are tracked, Gold Coast can show an audit trail of all marketing interactions on the advertiser’s site. This type of long-term data analysis helps paint a picture for how potential web visitors will react over time and indicate the average length of a purchase cycle. Perhaps the first time they arrive, no purchase is made, but over time, familiarity with a product is gained, and upon a return visit, ultimately a transaction occurs.
Furthermore, Gold Coast is able to look at both their audiences and the client’s audience and see how much overlap exists between the two. If Gold Coast is generating traffic to the site, they will not have to rely on the advertisers to verify this. The publisher is in the driver’s seat when they own the analytics platform. If the reader was a Gold Coast reader but did not come to the advertiser’s site directly from Gold Coast’s site, Gold Coast could still identify that it was one of their readers using its tracking code. And even if leads are not being generated, a lookalike audience makes the argument that the ads are being placed in front of the right people, even if they are not seeing responses, which could indicate other issues like ineffective creative.
Lastly, with automated reports fed to the advertiser, Gold Coast gets the benefit of giving some sort of tangible evidence of leads coming in the door—regardless of whether they came from their magazine. The advertiser might have a dozen advertising sources, but the one that is sending them lead generation reports each month is Gold Coast.
Ideally, the objective over time is to track enough of their clients’ website visitors and begin building targeted buying personas across the local community. While this challenge can be complex for a consumer publication, it is easily applicable to business-to-business publications who have a finite audience, and where buying data can be easily aggregated. After all, since publishers are familiar with audience development, helping advertisers understand their own potential buyers is the next logical extension of this expertise.