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How publishers can monetise their websites

How publishers can monetise their websites

By UK MD of smartclip, Sam Kayum

In the current economic climate, each and every online publisher is looking to find ways to make money from their sites. Yet for Joe Public, who starts a Batman fan site from the comfort of his own living room and suddenly finds his site being visited by millions of fellow fans, it can be a daunting task to approach.

Large publishers have always known how to monetise their sites, it’s easy and straightforward, take AOL as an example. Today however, with the advent of user-generated content (UGC), niche publishers like Joe Public have sprung up across the internet.

We only have to look at the explosion of Twitter to see that social networking as a trend has witnessed unprecedented growth and shows no signs of slowing down. Despite this growth, the question of how to monetise the millions of eyeballs still remains key, and for many publishers the answer is content, which means looking at established media such as video. 

Video has really taken off and as momentum gathers, innovation increases. It is an ideal medium to engage and market to both niche and mass audiences. Statistics highlighting the uptake of video speak for themselves: 4.65 billion video views in April 2009 (comScore). Moreover, research from Hitwise highlights that 1 in every 35 internet visits in February was to a specialist video website.  

However, the current market for video is exceptionally fragmented.   According to recent comScore statistics, there were a total of 3.98 billion video views in January 2009 for the Top 100 publishers alone.

Of this, Google owns a 51 per cent claim, a further 40 per cent is viewed in the long-tail of the web where a growing number of niche and personally relevant sites sit, and unusually, the remaining 9 per cent of the market  is split amongst a plethora of sites from some of the world’s most recognised brands including the BBC, Universal Music, and ITV who own as little as 1 per cent of the market for video consumption. 

Against this backdrop, finding measurable ways of reaching audiences, in a way that is relevant and engaging is a challenge for both primarily agencies and publishers.

Agencies want to concentrate on the impact, reach and relevance of their campaigns to a specific target audience, while publishers are trying to ensure their sites are monetised in a way which is as measurable and cost effective as possible.

The barrier to entry for each new publisher is very low due to the public nature of the internet. Companies can now use networks to attract and retain users rapidly and at a very low cost. Thanks to on-demand services, users can consume video when, where and how they want and advertisers can make the most of the targeted, interactive and measurable nature of the internet.

As a result, search engines, social networks and even video-sharing sites are all offering their services at no charge in order to attract users.  However, they can only do this if they are able to monetise their sites.

As measurability becomes increasingly important, consumers become advertising-savvy and the pursuit of ROI becomes increasingly difficult, measuring the success of any campaign across a site is essential. The trick is to ensure that content remains king. After all it defines target audiences and the market positioning of particular brands.

In reflection of this trend, advertisers are making sure they are targeting niche audiences with content that is personally relevant. The value of niche sales outlets (both on and offline) is increasingly recognised and for publishers, there is a definite opportunity to capitalise on this demand.

It is these niche markets and special formats are the principal driving forces in the online video market. To this end, it is important that there is co-operation in the market, even between former competitors, in order to deepen their respective market penetration.

In this context, online video advertising has particular advantages that can benefit both publishers and advertisers.  It’s interactive; users can pause video, click on products for more information and even make a purchase – all with a seamless experience.

In addition, branding wrapped around a video player, combined with strategic product placement and niche targeting creates a compelling package for advertisers looking to deliver quality to content to specific audiences. 

In today’s tough economic times, video advertising is set to play a driving role in improving the effectiveness of video advertising campaigns.

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