How To Monetize Relevant And Engaging Content? Reward Creators

evanburnsThe Sell Sider” is a column written for the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Evan Burns, CEO at Odyssey.

Engaging audiences with relevant content hinges on how publishers and platforms harness countless diverse viewpoints globally.

This approach is essential in a climate where confidence in the media has never been worse. Give diverse voices the right vehicle and they will amplify engagement, restore trust in media and inspire readers to share the chorus of perspectives.

This comes down to putting the right content in front of the right audience. But what is relevant? The answer lies in the sweet spot between how audiences organically share their favorite stories and how creators personalize content: where data and human curation intersect. Content creators know best. Their voices, from all around the world, are those most capable of putting together meaningful and targeted pieces for relevant audiences all too eager to share.

This brings us to monetization. When the world’s most engaging stories are monetized at the highest potential value, publishers can create an investment cycle that rewards creators. In this way they generate higher quality and quantity of content, foster smarter engagement and drive more revenue for those creators. This allows the best creators to benefit from their work while investing in what the readers want.

A 2011 study by the Journal of Marketing Research analyzed virality and touted the benefits of “crafting contagious content.” But this designation oversimplifies and undermines the process by neglecting to consider the imperative of scaling without oversaturating. 

Content oversaturation is impeding the “going viral” phenomenon. This isn’t a problem for platforms that scale, including Facebook and YouTube. It’s a problem for content creators struggling to be heard in our increasingly loud world. Take video: Right now we’re experiencing an industrywide shift toward original video publishing, an inevitable bubble that will surely burst as media companies compete for the same millennial mindshare and mobile consumption.

In short, there’s too much content. And much of it falls flat as publishers continue to chase reach over relevance. The industry can upend the current rut, while improving the public trust in the press, by embracing a few tenets of content monetization.

Monetize Engagement

For too long publishers have chased reach and noise, two metrics they should abandon immediately. This also means advertisers and marketers will have to pay more for more engagement, and avoid pitfalls like valuing an ad on a clickbait slideshow the same as a New York Times article with several engagement minutes.

Put Relevant Content In Front Of Users And Measure Engagement

To encourage valuable and consistent engagement, publishers must break the furniture to save their audiences. And that means publishers should emphasize human sharing combined with data-driven personalization, in order to establish relevance and engagement as the new currency.

Cede Some Control To Content Creators

Publishers should allow their contributors to decide what’s relevant. This is not to suggest a major shakeup of the traditional editorial structure, but a rethinking of how we connect the right voices with the right audiences. Writers who create content that matters to them influence engagement, encourage sharing and allow for better monetization. Who knows what they love more than passionate creators?

Who will be the savior of how content should be monetized? No one will, unless the industry begins to allow creators to connect the dots between smart content and effective engagement.

Follow Evan Burns (@evanburns), Odyssey (@TheOdyssey) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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