Roy Peleg, Op-Ed Contributor / June 26, 2017
Shares, clicks, bookmarks, comments, page views per session, newsletter signups, time on page. Engaged users are a publisher’s dream.
From shares that attract new visitors to comments that keep them on the page, engagement can enrich a site and increase the opportunities for monetization. Recent data from Ezoic proves the point: It found a direct linear correlation between time on site and ad revenue.
As a publisher, you probably track the key engagement metrics via Google Analytics or a third party technology. Maybe you segment users to different groups: content sharers, contributors, visitors who use your site search, etc.
But what are you actively doing with this data? How do you leverage it to increase your site’s traffic and revenue?
As the digital advertising industry moves towards personalization, engagement metrics can help us understand and improve each user’s unique experience on a website.
Should we treat engaged users differently? Yes!
The real question is how. And the answer depends largely on the type of engagement. Let’s consider three common types of engaged users.
1. The social sharer
Did you know the majority of social shares, 60%, come from users who haven’t actually read the article? That’s what a study by the French National Institute and Columbia University found. It shows how many people share content based on headlines and pictures, perhaps to engage or impress their friends and peers.
For these users, publishers should make social buttons highly prominent and visible, even at the expense of advertising space. You’ll be compensated with the traffic that these social butterflies can drive. If they aren’t scrolling down anyway to consume your content, ads below the fold would have lower viewability.
Social icons can be placed at the top, middle, and/or bottom of an article. There are also great tools for adding floating social buttons, such as Sharethis. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for these users to spread the word.
2. The content consumer
Users engaged with your content, who spend time on a page, need different treatment. They are ideal candidates for newsletters sign-ups. By targeting them, you can build up a loyal customer base of visitors who enjoy your content and are more likely to return.
Timing is key.
Don’t bother these users in the middle of reading; that could reduce your value proposition. Instead, prompt the newsletter signup once they have scrolled to the end of an article, or when they click to view another page on the website.
Another option is to add more ad placements. Per Facebook, users who spend a lot of time on their platform have a higher tolerance for in-feed ads than users who login once a day. If it works for Facebook, it’s at least worth testing.
Try limiting additional placements to appear only when a user visits a second page on your site, and add one new ad placement at a time. See how this impacts the page views per session, time on site, and total ad revenue.
Focus on native or static display ad placements that don’t obstruct the content. You may be surprised how much more revenue is earned without impacting the engagement metrics.
3. The content contributor
Another interesting group of users are those who contribute to your forums, add comments to articles, or upvote a piece of content. These types of engagement can be leveraged to drive return visits. For example, you can add an option for the user to receive an alert when someone responds to their comment or adds a new one on the same article.
Since these users enjoy being an active part of your online community, they may be more likely to respond to site surveys. Or, you could tempt them to stay longer on the site with additional related content just before they leave.
In the coming years, personalization will not only be possible, but increasingly profitable. Treating engaged users differently will set premium publishers apart. It will prove to be just as important as targeting ads or optimizing the location of ad placements on an individual basis.