Publishers: Now You Can Monetize Below the Fold

No advertiser wants to pay for an ad that isn’t seen. In fact, until recently, advertisers who bought both directly and through through exchanges were very focused on ads that “performed” — ads that caused the reader to respond. Google is built on the Pay-per-Click model: the advertiser doesn’t pay unless the consumer clicks on the ad. Most traditional display advertising, however, wasn’t like that.

And the PPC model isn’t appropriate for every brand in every circumstance; more sophisticated advertisers now understand the utility of online advertising for “brand lift,” or “social engagement,” or just sheer visibility. While the call to action may not involve a direct activity on the site where the ad is shown —  “order now” vs. “visit your Ford dealer to see our 2012 models,”– most advertisers now agree that branding itself is a worthwhile use of online advertising dollars.

This type of advertising is judged by its cost per thousand impressions, known as CPMs. (Wonder where the M comes from? It stands for Mille, which is thousand in French.)

If you are a publisher, you know you only have a certain amount of screen real estate “above the fold,” — at the top of your site. Below the fold, where users must scroll, is traditionally viewed as inferior placement.

But those areas can now be monetized through CPM ads– especially if the ads are striking. Readers do come to read stories below the fold on most newspaper and magazine sites (if you want some good examples, Take a look at Huffington Post, which offers almost limitless scrolling, but has ads only on the top right sid of the home page,  and the Daily Mail, where Verizon runs ads both above and below the fold.) Verizon will be paying less for the ad below the fold, but that ad will  nevertheless be seen, because readers do scroll down. Huffington Post has lost an opportunity here; and now it’s possible to prove that to an advertiser.

There are now several services that help advertisers verify that below-the-fold ads are not misspent money and make publishers more aggressive about offering inventory below the fold, after educating advertisers about how often those ads get viewed.

DoubleVerify provides online advertising verification. The company seeks to increase online advertising accountability and transparency by providing agencies, marketers, publishers and ad networks with real-time audit and verification of online advertising transactions, while Adxpose focuses on both “ad verification” and “ad safety.” It tells advertisers if anyone actually saw their ad online (was the ad above the fold or below the fold on any given webpage and how many people actually scrolled down to look at it?), and in what context the ads were shown. For instance, most major brand advertisers don’t want their ads shown next to porn or other content not deemed to be “brand-safe.” With Adxpose, and other available tools, an advertiser knows.

It will take a while for new, “in-view guaranteed”, below-the-fold advertising to become accepted, but in the mean time it will give the most adventurous advertisers an edge, and because of superior analytics, there’s not much actual risk.

We’ve been experimenting with better below-the-fold formats, and Zedo has some pretty original and compelling formats we’d be happy to show you if you are interested.

Enhanced by Zemanta