Why publishers struggle to monetise their paywall data
In theory, that data could be used to enable advertisers to pinpoint a select audience that is core, affluent users of the publishers’ site. That’s one of the ideas behind Time Inc.’s new paid-content strategy. As publishers give up some traffic associated with putting up a paywall, it’s attractive to think they could make up for the loss by charging higher CPMs for their registered users.
“Knowing an audience is highly representative of a publisher because of the regularity of their content consumption can be very attractive to a brand, especially as they try to tailor messages to cultural moments or themes exactly when an audience is consuming it,” said Alan Smith, chief digital officer at Assembly. “This type of audience data can come with a premium and is one that some brands will pay for.”
Still, primarily due to scale, that seems to be more the exception than the rule. Advertisers can now get user-registration data from Google and Facebook, which have the volume individual publishers lack, Smith said.
Rarely are publishers able to charge higher CPMs for user-registration data, said Steve Goldberg, managing director at Empirical Media. “For almost all publishers, the best they can do is use it as a filter in addition to — versus as a replacement for — third-party data,” he said. “One of the challenges is that paywall subscribers tend to be a small fraction of the overall audience, and that can lead to delivery issues, especially in shorter flights.”
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