The Pandemic Creates An Opening For Publishers To Reimagine Their Sites And Declutter

Erik Requidan headshot

The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Erik Requidan, founder and CEO at Media Tradecraft.

You may have noticed that as we all face months working at home, some of us took to a more rigorous brand of spring cleaning this year. It seems that during the pandemic, we’ve all noticed many things that do not “spark joy” in our lives, so we’ve taken a Marie Kondo approach to clearing out our closets, garages and storage rooms.

As society tries to find a silver lining and take advantage of this opportunity to clean house, maybe publishers – and perhaps the whole ecosystem – should consider taking the same action.

It’s not so much about tidying; it’s about reacquainting yourself with what you really have, finding the value and making the most of it.

For publishers, that starts with imagining the ideal state for their sites. Is it a more user-friendly layout for visitors? A few, high-demand display ads on each page and premium sponsored content? Faster load times?

It’s likely your site has evolved largely out of necessity over the past several years. This is your opportunity to look at it holistically and envision exactly what you want to it to be, from content to monetization. Dream big.

Commit yourself to tidying up

Publishers, you know you need to do this. It’s not just about cleaning up the number of ads on the page, it’s also about cleaning up the code and ditching some of those old tags so your pages load faster.

Now is the time to also clean up your tech stack and page layout to make sure you’re optimizing your revenue – and your users’ experience.

Discard first

Get rid of what you don’t need, starting with the line items that cost money but don’t deliver equivalent value. Do you really need three measurement companies? Can you still thrive without all those content relationships?

Difficult as it may be, look at staff – you may have too many folks in one department who can effectively shift to another team.

Get rid of those wasted units if they don’t add to your bottom line. Ditch ads that get in the way of your great content. The average publisher has 22 supply paths. Maybe 19 supply paths is sufficient? And more importantly, get rid of any tech that’s slowing load times and weighing down your site.

Tidy by category, not by location

In the physical world of KonMari, tidying happens room by room. For publishers, this means by category – maybe starting with your content and working through to your ad tech stack, sites, current team and portfolio of partners.

Go through your entire business, category by category, and figure out what needs to go.

Follow the right order

Everything starts and ends with the user experience, so that needs to be the first priority. If you’re not attracting, engaging and retaining visitors to your site, nothing else matters.

Ensure your site is delivering the experience your visitors expect – free of slow load times and clutter – and prioritize appropriately. Cost-savings are important, but not as important as keeping your audience happy. Without loyal visitors, you have nothing.

Ask yourself if it sparks joy

In Marie Kondo’s decluttering method, you’re asked to lay out items causing clutter and touch them, hold them and identify the feelings they surface. Do they spark joy? No? Adios, then.

Obviously, you can’t touch everything you’ve been questioning in your operations or site, but you can carefully evaluate their impact on your visitors and bottom line. You can consider whether they spark joy for your audience.

You can also take a hard look at your analytics and performance to make the decision. You can, for example, analyze the value of a print publication’s “digital e-edition” launched three years ago and decide whether it’s worth continuing.

Touching, evaluating and ultimately discarding will help you reimagine many things. Going through this process will bring about necessary changes, many of which you may have never known you needed.

Tidying, after all, is not just about cleaning up, it’s about creating space, literally and figuratively. Decluttering can create room for new things you will need. Many publishers will find they have a massive pile of unnecessary things, from old habits such as running low viewable units that don’t add real value, to actual ad formats or entire sites within their portfolios.

The objective isn’t to throw away, it’s to reacquaint yourself. So, reacquaint yourself with everything from ad tech and measurement vendors to ad networks, page code and ads.txt files.

In the words of Marina Mahnken, another organizing guru, “Clutter is delayed decisions.” Stop putting off decisions that could have a positive, profitable impact on your business at a time when media companies need it most.

Follow Erik Requidan (@Requidan) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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