The old saying goes, “in life there are no guarantees.” And yet, for a moment in time, it would appear that some vendors in the content marketing space defied that logic by reportedly offering revenue guarantees to publishers in the ballpark of a $1million+. But, as Digiday reported earlier in the year, some publishers are starting to see these guarantees disappear with negotiations proposing a pure rev-share model instead.
At first glance the move from a minimum guarantee to a performance model might seem like a bad thing, publishers playing the long game know that it’s not. Minimum guarantees have not been without their downsides for publishers. In return for the minimum guarantee, publishers had to deliver a minimum number of pageviews and exclude other ad providers. This meant, running “unsightly widgets” on all or most of their pages.
Of these widgets, A New York Times’s article in Oct 2016 stated that: “some publishers are wondering about the effect these so-called content ads may be having on their brands and readers. Among the reasons: The links can lead to questionable websites, run by unknown entities. Sometimes the information they present is false.” Others complained that “it’s not the right look” if you’re trying to present yourself as a “high-quality, upper tier website.”
At Dianomi, we agree with this sentiment. As a publisher who works with 350+ plus tier one publishers, we know that context and brand safety have a positive effect on ROI. A recent study from Inskin Media found that being on a site that has a strong publisher branding “helped boost effectiveness, whereas being served against potentially damaging editorial content had less of an effect.”
Publishers who are shifting from a guarantee to a rev-share model based on CPC should be using the negotiations as an opportunity to rethink their overall content marketing strategy. For premium publishers specifically, this may very likely mean testing your current partner against a new partner, seeing how each performs and evaluating those partners for other qualities like link quality, brand safety and context.
Publishers should also consider and qualify the long-term effect that poor quality links will have on their revenues and relationship with the reader. From Fortune: “If you just published a long investigative piece of journalism on an important topic like immigration or the U.S. political landscape, what message does it send when the reader gets to the bottom of that story and sees links to cheesy sites using photos of scantily-clad women and other gimmicks?”
We’d love to know the answer to that question.