In Today’s Metrics Obsessed Media World, The Pressure’s On Print (And Every Other Medium) To Deliver ROI

Did you read about Meredith’s plan to guarantee its best print advertisers a sales lift from the ads they run in Meredith titles like Better Homes & Gardens, Ladies Home Journal and Family Circle?

There’s a hint of desperation in the offer, but Meredith is limiting its exposure, which is probably a good idea since providing accurate response data on a non-interactive medium is far from a science.

Meredith is restricting the program, which it’s calling the Meredith Engagement Dividend, to 10 corporate clients that meet certain requirements such as typically spending over $5 million annually with the company’s magazines. Meredith’s three biggest magazine advertisers are Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson and Kraft Foods, according to Kantar Media.

“We are creating limited inventory because we’re stepping up to risk,” said Richard Porter, president-media sales at the national media group.

I spoke with Dale Carr, CEO of Sydney-based LeadBolt today about Meredith’s plan. Carr says it’s a good thing, but that it’s also a page taken from the digital publisher’s, or ad network’s, playbook, which have long relied on metrics to prove their worth.

“The attractiveness of internet advertising lies in its innate ability to track returns and manage spending to a very fine degree,” says Carr.

LeadBolt’s main product offering introduces an “intelligent content monetization layer” on top of selected content, asking readers to engage with an advertiser first, by taking a quick survey in many cases. Carr says his ad modules or monetization layers get massive click through and conversions as high as 15%. By conversion, Carr means filling out a complete form or in some way further engaging with the advertiser, even when “close window” is present as an option.

Here’s a low budget video that helps explain LeadBolt’s offering:

Carr previously told StartUp Beat , “There were so many sites and content owners out there who were literally giving away highly valuable IP not making one cent from it. Many tried using the ‘traditional types of advertising’ like Adsense but were disappointed with the results. I felt there must be a smarter way that would generate returns if the advertising becomes more an interactive experience.”

I’m wondering how LeadBolt’s monetization layer would work here. As Editor, I don’t like putting content behind any form of obstacle–paywall, monetization layer, or otherwise. And the words “content locked” frankly, freak me out. Yet, I do want to monetize our content, so I’m open to learning about the options as we pursue the right fit for our readers.

Carr is certainly right to offer an alternative to Adsense, because Adsense doesn’t pay jack. A “takeover” over my screen rubs me wrong, but I need to remember that I’m not always in the target demographic–I can see other non-AdPulp applications where LeadBolt’s monetization layer might work fine.

What’s your read on putting free content behind an ad-supported monetization layer?



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.