How publishers are monetizing content & banking on ad viewability

by: Lucinda Southern on 31 July 2015

Finding a way around paywalls, more publishers are partnering with Rezonence, the company that creates interactive ads, trading user engagement for premium content

In an attention-deprived age, advertisers continue to fight for user engagement, while publishers struggle to monetize content without the restriction of paywalls.

One company looking to fix these two problems is Rezonence. It’s proven to be a particularly popular choice for UK publishers, trade and consumer houses including BBC Worldwide, Johnstone Press & 1XL, Haymarket, CityAM, Time Inc. specialist and IDG. Most recently the company has just announced a partnership with Trinity Mirror.

The deal will see Rezonence’s FreeWall technology used to help the publisher maximise revenue from its digital inventory across the group, which includes Mirror.co.uk.

It works by serving interactive formats within articles and asking readers to make a choice, answer a question or give feedback to read the rest of the content. It’s already run campaigns with brands like Sky, Unilever, Sandals, Vodafone, Pru Health and Cadbury's, designing specific ads to meet campaign objectives like brand building, driving awareness and purchase conversion.

The interactivity proves the reader has viewed the ad and gives more definition to the amorphous term ‘engagement’.

In January 2015 Trinity Mirror posted its reader figures showing a record-breaking month as its number of unique users surpassed 100 million, marking a 27% increase month-on-month and a 77% increase from the same time in 2014.

The Mirror.co.uk predictably accounts for most of this, reaching over 75 million uniques in that month, up 27% on the previous month and 80% year-on-year, according to ABC figures. A more regular month for Mirror.co.uk hits the 25 million unique user mark, according to the publisher.

While Trinity Mirror is re-doubling efforts in its digital investment, this growth also has a lot to do with sharing on social media, with monitoring service NewsWhip showing that globally this site was the seventh most engaged with publisher on Facebook, and the number one engaged with in the UK, with 17.5 million interactions.

Keen not to scare away readers, the paywall route is not a viable option for Mirror.com. But these figures are already an attractive proposition for advertisers, which would secure Trinity Mirror’s revenue stream. Even so it has chosen Rezonence seemingly to up the engagement from its readership.

Speaking on the partnership, Piers North, Head of Digital Strategy at Trinity Mirror, says "we, and the industry, continue to refine the model and metrics of successful digital advertising, especially for our significant mobile audience.”

Brands get engagement, publishers get to monetize premium content without the need of paywalls, and both parties can collect more data on readership and engagement preferences. Rezonence is another option of ad-funded revenue without a paywall, one where the trade-off that the reader must make for content is more transparent. As long as this interruption keeps the reader in mind, then more transparency is a good thing. We'll keep you updated on how these campaigns succeed.