How Publishers Can Attract Brand Advertisers

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Attracting Big Brands

Every publisher wants to attract big brand advertisers, but how? Build a sales team? Develop a fancy media kit? Get the right technology in place? These are all good answers, but they’re just tactics. To really succeed with brand advertisers, publishers need a holistic strategy for their brand as well. While there’s no magic bullet when it comes to attracting high quality advertisers, we’ve put together recommendations in four key areas that publishers should address.

You Must Have Premium Inventory at Scale

Your mobile site or app will need to be at a significant scale in order to be attractive to brands. Let’s assume that the average mobile brand campaign budget is $100,000, spent over a one month period. At a $1.00 CPM, you would need a minimum of 100,000 premium ad impressions a month in order to deliver on this campaign. But having the premium inventory available is where most publishers struggle.

An at scale app or site will throw off millions of impressions, but very little of that is of high quality. Brand advertisers consider a premium impression to be an above the fold impression on the startup screen, home screen, or logout screen only. Interior pages, search results, forums, user profiles, and other pages with fewer views are classified as remnant inventory. In many apps, however, a full-screen interstitial is considered a premium impression even if it’s not the startup screen. But very few apps have a lot of full-screen placements.

For most publishers, the best approach is to segment inventory into at least two tiers. Clearly define premium inventory and repackage the remaining as remnant inventory. For the remnant inventory, segmentation by content type or demographic can make it more attractive and command a better price.

Developing across multiple platforms, including iPad, iPhone, Android and mobile web, is one way to increase the volume of premium impressions. Another is to carefully evaluate the user experience and try to find opportunities to add strong performing placements.

Feature High Quality Content

Most established brands are very particular about where their advertising appears. When I first started my career, I was surprised when executives at a major beauty brand demanded to know which ads would appear in pages close to theirs in Vogue. They even had a list of brands that could not appear near their ad. They were protective, even obsessive about it, as brand advertisers should be. If you want to attract major brand advertisers, ensuring that the content will be relevant and high quality is extremely important.

This creates a big opportunity for small apps or sites in a specific niche like beauty, fitness, automotive, or finance. Brand advertisers are actively looking for impressions in those categories. If your content it tasteful, highly targeted and relevant, you don’t need to have a lot of inventory to attract big brands.

Texting apps, social networks, and other types of user generated content are not considered premium. In fact, these impressions are penalized for being extremely low quality. They carry significant risk for advertisers, as the publishers can’t guarantee the relevancy or context of the ad. Almost everyone has seen strange pairings of ads from keyword recognition. A story about a serial killer, featuring an ad for knives. Or the description of car accident triggering an ad for an auto brand. For a many ad executives, just one ad out of context could be a death sentence for a brand.

Have a Unique and Differentiated Offering

Brand advertisers are always searching for interesting ideas and opportunities. Going beyond the standard banner ad is a great way to attract them. Rich media, video and other unique display formats are all very attractive. But be careful. If the opportunity is too custom, you run the risk of escalating implementation costs, which increases overhead and reduces margins. Also, these formats can become a barrier to increasing the user base as they tend to be intrusive.

Native advertising is a new approach in mobile and it has been very successful for direct marketing. Some brands have embraced it and the combination of native with video looks very promising. Ultimately, it’s how native ads are implemented in your app or site that will determine if it is appropriate for a given brand.

Offering unique data for reporting and targeting is another way a publisher can differentiate. Advertisers value gender targeting, interest targeting, age targeting and other types of audience segmentations greatly. If you collect this or can easily infer this information about your users, it can be very valuable. Going beyond CTR and offering additional reporting information is also interesting for customers. Consider how you can provide advertising engagement metrics such as interaction time or number of shares.

Develop Your Brand as a Publisher

Brand advertisers are attracted to other brands. Building your brand as a publisher will work wonders when trying to attract brand dollars from advertisers. While it may sound simplistic, it’s true. Well known publications, magazines, newspapers, television networks and other media outlets command the majority of brand dollars. Even with the explosion of options in digital media, well established media brands remain the preferred vehicle for most brand advertisers in mobile.

If you want to attract the best brands and advertisers, you will need to drink your own champagne. There is no better way to establish trust with big brands than to become a big brand in your own right.