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Increase engagement by increasing subtlety

Increase engagement by increasing subtlety Shay Brog

Digital publishers face unique challenges today -- CPMs in the classical display advertising category are declining, ad-blocking user behavior is increasing, and mobile monetization is not where it should be -- and publishers are getting squeezed from all directions. All of this might seem a bit overwhelming, but the most savvy and forward-thinking publishers are realizing that one answer to all of their woes is rather simple: increase the engagement in advertisements by increasing their subtlety and relevance with in-image advertising.

To understand the logic of in-image advertising, it's important to acknowledge a simple truth for all publishers; they want to provide a consistent and high-quality user experience that will drive readership, retention, subscriptions, recirculation, etc. No one is out to provide a terrible UX. However, the increasingly convoluted and bloated ad tech "stacks" that publishers are being forced to turn to is doing just that, and driving many to use ad blocking software in the process.

When the ads disrupt the user experience, people turn to ad blocking.

So, how does in-image advertising alleviate these problems and solve for these needs? Think of them simply as the marriage of highly engaging, quality content with the advertisements themselves. This truth attacks many of the problems publishers are dealing with directly at the source.

What many publishers have to keep in mind is that readers aren't frustrated by the presence of ads (I'd argue many know that ads go towards keeping content free for users), they're frustrated when ads hinder their experience. This frustration can be driven by obnoxiously intrusive ads, such as full-screen interstitials with little "x" opt-outs that are ludicrously small, but it can also increase page load times, take up data, and drain batteries on mobile devices. A recent New York Times article revealed just how much of an impact having lots of different ads on a publisher's site can have.

By bringing ads into a publisher's image content, in-image ads remove the need for intrusive and disruptive adverts because the content is always viewable (it is, after all, what the customer is looking at). By presenting ads in a way that doesn't detract from the content, but rather complements it, in-image advertising presents an ancillary benefit of providing an effective native ad experience that keeps engagements high while ensuring a slick, high-quality and consistent user experience that other native placement solutions such as in-feed and in-stream ads don't. It's also important to remember that, while in-image advertising can be blocked, they are much less likely to cause people to turn to ad blocking, because they align the ads with the context of the content. 

On the technical side of the debate, publishers often have to deal with a multitude of vendors all providing one piece of the ad tech stack and taking their cut. This "tech tax" adds up both in terms of the bottom line and in damage to the user experience. When a publisher's platform has to accommodate a number of different solutions, it weighs down the performance of the site. Because of their high-performing metrics, in-image ads give more bang for publishers' buck, allowing them to cut down on third-party vendors and get rid of the low-performing and intrusive units that drive users to ad blocking.   

Publishers need to diversify their revenue streams to keep pace with their changing environments and focus their efforts on high-yield opportunities with manageable impact to user experience. In-image advertising fits the bill. It gives publishers the new monetization opportunity that they seek, and ensures advertisers and brands get the reach they want through content that engages users across all platforms -- visuals. 

Shay Brog is VP, publisher development at GumGum

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet. 

Shay is the VP of Publisher Development at GumGum and is responsible for growing and strengthening the company’s relationships with today’s leading digital publishers. He brings with him extensive experience in both digital marketing and...

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