Revenue-per-click, the strategy that has sustained modern digital publishers for years has seemingly run its course. In the wake of news that publishing powerhouses such as Buzzfeed and HuffPo have recently announced cuts to prevent catastrophic outcomes for their businesses, it’s clear the tides are turning. The next revenue-driving stepping stone is very much poised and ready to take centre stage.
For too long, publishers have relied on Facebook and Google for their traffic, and as the duopoly has tightened their grip, publishers have seriously felt the pinch. Not only that, but readers are also feeling the pain of this dysfunctional relationship and things, rightly so, have to change.
Video has always provided publishers with a healthy revenue stream, however, the combination of passive playback and intrusive ad formats had driven down user engagement. The result, reader backlash and the rise of ad blockers.
But here’s the thing, online video doesn’t have to be a passive, lean back experience. With video making up a reported 80% of web traffic, it’s no wonder the biggest publishers in the world are already taking back control of their video destinies.
Interactive technology is helping them refocus their video goals.
Meredith (formerly Time Inc), a major media corporation with a portfolio serving a staggering 80% of U.S. millennial women, already utilize interactive video to reinvent the way their audiences move from engagement to action.
Not only were Meredith looking to deepen editorial content, but also deliver a paradigm-shifting advantage to its branded content division, The Foundry. In the world of beauty, there is no one product fits all solution, so the flexibility of interactive video allowed them to serve multiple audiences with a single, engaging piece of content.
There is no doubt that videos become significantly more meaningful when you become actively involved in the narrative. As consumer viewing habits continue to evolve, interactive video provides the gateway for this two-way experience that consumers are actively looking for.
Publishers have flooded to video as a mechanism to not only monetize their sites but to significantly extend the time users spend on their site. This positively increases the experience, and therefore, recall and return frequency of that user to a given site. In a digital world full of distraction, keeping eyeballs on screen is a paramount objective for modern digital publishers.
We all understand the need to subsidise quality journalism. How this is effectively done in 2019 is changing, fast. Publishers that took the advertising route love video because their advertising partners (brands), love video as a way to reach their audiences. Naturally, publishers funding their site with ad dollars made their site desirable to partners by offering up ad slots, but this came at a cost to the user experience.
On the flip side, over recent months there has been a resurgence of the paywall, a somewhat old fashioned technique of gating content from viewers unless they’re willing to pay. A technique once used by many, but then dropped with the promise of streams of eyeballs from the likes of Facebook and Google came into the fray.
On its second time around, things appear different and that comes in part thanks to the shift in consumer behaviour. The concept of subscriptions today is very, very different. People have subscriptions for food delivery, vitamins, plants and even their toothbrushes, so the concept of gating premium media content doesn’t feel strange at all.
Early re-adopters of the paywall including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Wired have seen a positive increase in engagement from this approach.
It’s clear that publishers have an opportunity to utilize interactive video as a way to win back the trust of their loyal customers. In time, they repair relationships, nurture new ones and ultimately engage their viewers like never before.