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Friday, August 01, 2008

More page views doesn't mean more advertising

Folio magazine in the US has started an interesting community of discussion around b2b and recently hosted a debate about digital strategy. There are several common themes. The advertisers are saying that simply quoting page views won't grab their attention. They want to see evidence of community engagement through the downloading of information, the provision of registration details, participation in discussion and so on.

One media buyer said he doesn't care about price only about quality. He will pay more if he is sure it is the right audience fully engaged with the web property.

The notion of community is not new. Business magazine publishers have bragged for years about how their magazines are the hub of the community. Now, in the digital world we can test whether these brands really are the heart of the community.

Just as with print publishing where it became standard practice to have requested circulations and independent readership data, now in digital, in the US at least, ad buyers are demanding rather more than the mag online. Essential de minimus activity seems to include,
Downloadable info
Registered user activity
Active and relevant forums.
Tools and information in the site to aid decision making and product selection.
The provision of validated leads to advertisers/suppliers.
Proof that the audience is relevant.

The last of these really matters. Claiming page views is hugely misleading. Even this modest blog gets readers from all over the world, 38 countries to be exact. That overseas readership is around a third of my traffic. If I was trying to sell ads, it would be dishonest of me not to declare when I brag about my page views, that 30% of those views come from parts of the world where UK advertisers may not sell product.

I have seen some web publishers explain how they try and monetise traffic on each page with many alternate solutions (ads, sell content, lead gen etc). Now is the time to talk about how to meet customers needs. Adverstisers in b2b do not want to buy banners and skys against spurious page view stats. It's time to raise the game.

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