Why Publishers Should Act Like Agencies

Here are three good ideas publishers can use to add value to their operations.

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For today’s digital publishers, it’s not enough to simply publish—they need to be able to play the agency role, too.

Think about it like this: Digital agencies offer a central channel where an ad can be purchased on any site or device, whereas standalone publishers can only place ads on the properties they own and operate. To meet broader needs and solidify their presence in the publishing world, publishers need to adopt an agency mindset to fully appeal to advertisers’ multifaceted needs.

What Makes a Good Publisher Great?
Many publishers are capable of racking up page views organically or by buying traffic, but just as many have a tough time meeting an advertiser’s laundry list of needs. Strong publishers know their audience—and their audience’s behavior. They use that information to target their own site, which is all well and good, but they shouldn’t stop there. Publishers need to target the same audience from other websites, too.

That’s what agencies do, and it’s what publishers need to be better at in order to boost their revenue. In other words, a publisher needs to be able to buy ad inventory on other sites, targeting visitors who have been to the publisher’s site before—its audience—on behalf of the advertiser. This is known as reach extension or audience extension, and it’s executed using digital signal processing technology. DSP also enables the associated analytics to be aggregated. This transactional relationship allows businesses to scale, which is the main goal of operating like agencies.

Here’s why it’s important for publishers to serve advertisers’ ads on sites other than their own:

  • Margin: The retail-like dynamic that’s created allows publishers to increase their margins. For example, let’s say Publisher A is a trusted partner to Advertiser B. A’s position allows her to help B find audiences anywhere on the web—with, let’s say, a $4 CPM. Via ad exchanges and supply-side platforms—the technology layer that publishers use to make their inventory available for purchase in the real-time bidding marketplace—A finds the best audience for B for a $2 CPM. B wins because she saves the time and money she would have had to spend looking for this audience, and A wins because she gains access to a larger share of the ad budget.
  • Retargeting:Advertisers commonly use a model for conversion attribution that gives most of the credit (and, therefore, most of the ad revenue) for a customer conversion to the ad tech partner serving the ad the customer saw last. Publisher A won’t benefit when she impacts the customers’ purchases early on. But if she can use her own DSP systems to retarget the customers who visited her site—instead of passing the data along to a third party—the last-click attribution is hers for the taking. In turn, this crucial capability can improve client retention and renewals.
  • Video:Most publishers don’t use video as much as they could for content and ads. On top of that, video ads draw in premium CPMs. Advertiser demand continues to cause premium video inventory to sell out. But publishers can use the same technology that vendors use to access and buy ad inventory and audiences outside their own websites. Just because Publisher A isn’t YouTube doesn’t mean she can’t buy YouTube inventory to make money by securing more video ad spend from Advertiser B.

Solutions are flooding the market, and any given advertiser may be working with a slew of vendors. Publishers offering the ability to advertise solely on their own properties aren’t necessarily out of the game, but those who can step up and serve virtually all of an advertiser’s needs have a distinct advantage.

It’s time for publishers to start acting like agencies by locating customers anywhere on the web to supply everything advertisers need, pull ahead of the pack, and increase revenue.

Katie Risch Author’s page

Katie Risch is the senior vice president of publisher development for Centro. Katie leads the company’s strategic relationships with more than 10,000 publisher partners, boosting publishers’ revenue and business growth.


Online Content Has Significant Impact On Buying

Content marketing professionals reaffirm that relevance plus relationships lead to results. If either includes being easy and engaging, effective is inevitable in the majority of cases.

CMO Council finds online content has significant impact on buying

The Chief Marketing Officer Council finds online content has significant impact on buying decisions. By Kate Maddox. June 10, 2013 – 6:01 am EDT 

Online Content Has Significant Impact On BuyingThe vast majority of b2b buyers find online content a valuable resource when researching products and services, according to a study released last week by the Chief Marketing Officer Council.

The study, “Better Lead Yield in the Content Marketing Field,” was based on an online survey of more than 400 b2b buyers, conducted in April in partnership with NetLine Corp. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said online content has either a major or moderate impact on vendor preference and selection.

Content Process“Most companies spend at least 25% of their marketing budgets on content creation and distribution on digital channels,” said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, pointing to a recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute. “Our focus [with the CMO Council study] was to see how effective is that spend, to what degree are companies producing content that is meaningful and useful to buyers, and what are the nuances around how people are utilizing and sharing that content with their peers.”


According to the study, the most valuable sources of online content in shaping purchase decisions are:

  • professional associations, online communities (cited by 47%);
  • industry organizations and groups (46%);
  • online trade publications (41%);
  • seminars and workshops (41%); and
  • trade shows (35%).


 Relevance – Relationships – Results

Relevance, Relationships, Results“Clearly, what we’re seeing is that people want peer-based content,” Neale-May said. “Those are the most trusted sources—professional affinity groups where buyers can get feedback or advice, industry groups and professional associations.”

The specific types of content b2b buyers value most when making purchase decisions include:

  • professional association research reports and white papers (cited by 67%),
  • industry group research reports and white papers (50%),
  • customer case studies (48%),
  • analyst reports and white papers (44%), and
  • product reviews (40%).

“Content should be created and deployed to take customers through the various procurement phases and upsell and cross-sell opportunities, not just [to] acquire a lead,” Neale-May said. “In qualitative interviews, we found that people are much more cognizant of content being a requirement across the entire customer life cycle.”

B2b buyers said the characteristics they most value in online content are

  • breadth and depth of information (cited by 47%);
  • ease of access, understanding and readability (44%); and
  • originality of thinking and ideas (39%).

The content characteristics buyers most dislike include

  • too many requirements for downloading (50%),
  • blatantly promotional and self-serving (43%) and
  • non-substantive and uninformed (34%).

Easy, Engaging, Effective“I don’t think marketers are necessarily getting it,” Neale-May said. “Part of the problem is that a lot of content gets produced by product people—not content strategists—so it is more self-serving. Marketers are wasting a lot of money putting out content that people are not interested in or responding to.”




The survey also found that 59% of buyers share online content

with more than 25 people.

“These findings suggest that the value of a [content] download is probably greater than you think,” Neale-May said. “Marketers need to rethink and be more adept at tracking where and how content gets shared. Despite all the talk about social networks and collaborative networks, the primary way for sharing content is still through email.”

The survey also found that

  • 41% of b2b buyers use smartphones to access content, and
  • 30% use tablets.
  • Desktop computers are still the most widely used method of accessing content (68%).

“Our goal is to try to get marketers to create better content and track consumption and use of content across the entire customer life cycle,” Neale-May said. “We find that a lot of companies don’t have content strategies, don’t evaluate the performance of the content, don’t have strong advocacy themes and content performance isn’t what it should be.”

– See more at: http://www.btobonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130610/CONTENTMARKETING/306109964/cmo-council-finds-online-content-has-significant-impact-on-buying#sthash.2uHAYcDs.dpuf

7 Tips for Making Your Blog a Content Marketing Magnet

social media how toDo you have a business blog?

Are you happy with the marketing role your blog plays?

Many businesses consider blogs “a cost of doing business,” or code for “We’re not sure what it does but we’re afraid to stop doing it.”

In this article I will explore why and how to make your blog the hub of your content marketing plan?

Why make your blog your content marketing hub?

To put a slightly different spin on what Chris Brogan says, blogs are your home base; they are at the center of your content marketing system.

Whether you’re a small business or a Fortune 100 company, blogs should be at the heart of your content marketing because blogs fuel social media, search optimization and the sales process.

The top five reasons to use a blog as your content hub are:

  1. Blogs are owned media. Your blog content is yours. You’re not at the whim of changes in the rules of third-party platforms, such as the recent changes to LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. A blog has the added bonus of providing an always-on crisis management channel to get your message out 24/7.
  2. Blogs are a form of social media. Through social sharing, comments and guest posts, blogs provide the basis for building a targeted community. In fact, HubSpot‘s research showed that blogs top other forms of social media for effectiveness.
    social media importance

    This HubSpot report shows how important blogs are for businesses.

  3. Blogs support search optimization. Because of their structure, blogs are search-friendly. You can enhance this by focusing each article on a specific keyword phrase and link to internal and external content.
  4. Blogs drive sales. To support sales, write blog posts about how to use your products and show them in context to provide prospects and customers with product information they need. Then link to your specific product pages to support the sales process.
  5. Blogs incorporate a streamlined CMS (content management system). At its core, blogs are an easy-to-use, low-cost content system.

7 Tips to Make Your Blog Your Content Marketing Hub

To make your blog an accountable aspect of your content marketing plan, here are seven steps to get on track.

#1: Build a Strong Blogging Foundation to Support Your Content Marketing

In order for your blog to be the center of a strong content marketing plan, you’ll need to make sure you build your blog on a strong foundation.

One of your first decisions is how to set up your blog. Make sure you use your own URL. The best option is to use a self-hosted WordPress blog. Don’t use a free hosting option such as Blogger or WordPress.

Even better, incorporate your blog into your overall business website. Use http://example.com, not http://example.wordpress.com.


WordPress.org provides WordPress software that you can download and install on the server space you rent from a web host.

You’ll need to get technology resources to support your blogging efforts. Blogging should be integrated into your website. For most businesses, this translates to ongoing technology support, rather than a few minutes of someone’s time when they’re available.

These are essential to a strong foundation.

#2: Know Your Audience

Before you begin blogging, you’ll need to know whom you’re writing for and what they’re interested in reading. One way to find out more about your audience is to use marketing personas.

Create a set of marketing personas to clarify and give a personality to the people you’re trying to reach. It’s easier to write for someone you know than a faceless mass. Incorporate their content consumption habits and their social media proclivities.


Know who your audience is. Image source: iStockphoto.

Marketing personas are important for your blog, as well as other forms of content. If you’ve got distinctly different audiences you’re trying to reach, consider creating more than one blog and related content marketing.

#3: Develop Your Content Marketing Plan

Several components come into making a good content marketing plan. Here’s what you’ll want to include in your content marketing plan.

Map out your promotional calendar

Start by planning your organization’s marketing events for the year and use public holidays where appropriate. The objective is to create hooks around which to develop your content.

In addition to seasons and holidays, consider annual events that apply to your product offering. Include relevant tradeshows and conferences, as well as social media participation.


Plan out your events. Image source: iStockphoto.

Outline your major content offerings

Based on the events selected in your promotional calendar, decide what major content offerings you’ll create such as conference talks, ebooks and webinars.

Plan ongoing columns and related communications

Think like a magazine and brainstorm regular offerings such as news roundups, customer of the week and interviews. Develop a set of columns to offer either weekly or every other week. This provides the basic structure for your blog’s editorial calendar. Include themes such as research. Consider how you’ll offer this content to other segments of your audience such as in your regular emails.

Create an editorial calendar

Integrate your events, major pieces of content and regular content offerings into one calendar so you can manage the creation process. It helps to make this part of someone’s job description.

Plan extended content usage

Once you’ve integrated your planned content, assess where you can extend, create or reuse content from your major content marketing offerings on your blog and vice versa.

For example, to promote Content Marketing World, Lee Odden put together an ebook, 29 Content Marketing Secrets and the Secret Agents Who Shared Them. He used the information from the ebook to write 11 separate blog posts and an overview post. In addition, he posted the ebook on SlideShare and encouraged participants to share the content.

lee odden content

Here’s content Lee Odden published and used to create multiple content resources.

#4: Optimize Content to Enhance Effectiveness

Your content isn’t finished once it’s written or created. You still have to enhance its attractiveness to readers.

Here are some key points to make your content work for your business.

Integrate your 360° brand into each blog post and piece of content

Ensure that your audience can associate your content with your organization. Among the elements to consider are colors, voice, text presentation, sounds, language and visual representation.

Optimize content for search

At a minimum, focus each post or piece of content on a keyword phrase, be sure to include both internal and external links, and add appropriate search-friendly text to non-text content.

Format content to facilitate consumption

Entice readers by making it easy to read your content. Break your content into bite-sized information chunks, use bold type to guide readers who are skimming to grasp the sense quickly and use photographs to attract attention.

blog content example

Format your content to make it easy to read.

#5: Plan Your Content Promotion

Just publishing your content isn’t sufficient to reach a broad audience. You’ll also need to promote your content so that more of the right people see it.

Here’s what you’ll need to do to promote your content.

Incorporate automatic blog content delivery

Set up your blog to enable readers to receive your posts via email and feeds without having to think about it.

Leverage social media to distribute

Share your content across the social media platforms relevant to your audience. You can automate this, but I prefer tailored sharing to maximize the impact. Add this activity to your content marketing plan.

Also include social sharing buttons with each blog post and other content to enable readers to share your content.


Include social sharing buttons to extend the reach of your blog post. Image source: iStockphoto.

Extend your content reach

Leverage owned media such as your website and email lists to promote your content.

Where appropriate, use third-party media and advertising to support your efforts. For example, you could ask others to promote your efforts for you.

As you learn more about your blog audience, you’ll find ways to improve your blog promotion to increase your reach.

#6: Allocate Resources to Your Blog

To make your blog the heart of your content marketing, you need human and financial resources. Quality content that attracts and converts prospects doesn’t just happen when employees have time. These resources may be internal or external.

You’ll want to consider a variety of resources. You’ll want to look at resources for content creation to develop the information; creative, including design, photography and formatting; editorial to ensure that the content conveys the appropriate ideas, as well as editing to ensure the grammar is correct; marketing to get your content distributed; and technology to facilitate uploading and other technical issues.


Over time, you’ll find the right resources you need to run your blog. Image source: iStockphoto.

#7: Track Content Marketing Results

As with any other business initiative, you must measure your results. Plan your metrics and content creation to ensure that you have integrated the ability to capture the data you need.

Used properly, a blog not only supports your social media, search optimization and sales processes, it acts as the hub for the rest of your content marketing.

What do you think? Is there anything else that you’d add to this list? If so, what would you include and why? Please leave your questions and comments in the box below.

Images from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is an actionable marketing expert. As president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, she increases profitability with innovative marketing programs. Heidi shares actionable marketing insights as HeidiCohen.com‘s chief content officer. Other posts by »