Web site content development creates revenue opportunities for publishers by targeting key categories that appeal to advertisers.
Site publishers or staffs can do only so much before they run out of resources — time, money and energy. So it becomes a question of where to invest those resources for the best returns.
Ideally, they go into content sections that have high advertising appeal, high visitor appeal or a combination of both.
They go into content sections with high readership appeal only if those sections also have strong potential for advertising.
Likewise, chasing after a section with high advertising appeal is fruitless if that section does not now and never will have any appeal to visitors. It’s not possible to make much money from a section that gets 100 page views a month.
Web sites, TV stations, newspapers and other forms of media almost always have examples of all three kinds of content.
Television Site Examples
TV sites always do exceptionally well in news and weather. They are perceived locally as having a heavy focus on breaking news and weather. But while news and weather attract traditional advertisers to TV broadcasts or print newspapers, they often do quite poorly even on TV and newspaper Web sites.
A number of TV sites across the country have made a concerted effort to build out other content strengths, even though it takes a long time before the market perceives it as a strength. They dedicate effort to those categories for an important reason — advertiser appeal.
But to develop advertiser appeal, they first have to build site visitor appeal. They can’t sell a site section that doesn’t have enough visitors to justify the cost of the advertising.
Natural extensions for TV sites include health, entertainment, travel and recreation. Increasingly, they are building classifieds into viable and competitive products.
It was not long ago that some of us working on TV sites started to build classified products with few listings or page views. It was a discouraging time.
Now some TV sites have hundreds of listings and strong products. Classifieds don’t fit on TV station broadcasts, but they certainly fit on station Web sites.
People don’t necessarily go to TV Web sites looking for classifieds. Instead, they still flock to them for news and weather. But while there, they also may go into a classified section or some section other than news if those sections are promoted well.
Newspaper Site Examples
Newspaper Web sites of course do well with news, sports, obituaries and classifieds, but they tend to do poorly with weather, business and features.
Entertainment is a tossup and depends on the staff and the local competition. But feature content such as entertainment, health, travel and recreation are crucial for building a more robust product with wider appeal to visitors and especially advertisers.
Local newspaper sites usually get more online audience than any other site in the region. Managers get excited about the large audience, but getting advertisers is difficult if most of that audience is pouring into news, sports and obituaries in particular. In fact, sports and obituaries rarely attract any revenue.
Putting the Lessons Together
A site publisher or manager should take a step back and look at the analytics to see how much traffic each section or channel is receiving.
Does each content categories have high advertising appeal, high readership appeal or a combination of both?
Try the following exercise:
- Rank the top 10 channels for total page views.
- Rank the top 10 for average advertising revenue.
- Line up the two columns and compare the results.
Clearly, any section that appears in the top half of each list should be a priority for targeted content development.
If a site has a strong audience and weak advertising, the next focus should be on building up channels that have strong advertising potential.
Likewise, if a channel is strong on audience and has weak advertising potential, shift resources elsewhere.
In my 20 years of experience in online media, a site manager with a strong audience and weak ad revenue ends up becoming unemployed. A site and its sponsoring business can’t stay unprofitable for long.
Well-balanced Web site content development is like a well-balanced stock portfolio. The performance will be better in the long run, and you will sleep better at night.