Finding an equilibrium between user experience and monetization is one of the most challenging operations that digital publishers can face. Today, consumers are in complete control of their content-consuming environment, and with the rise of ad-blockers, it’s not difficult to realize that UX enhancements are now more needed than ever.
However, the UX enhancements can come with a price. Advertisements are what generates revenue for a publishing business, and when almost all of the content is free, the ad monetization income can be the saving grace for online publishers. For that reason, you need to know how to build what readers and advertisers want, and what to prioritize as a WordPress publisher.
How UX Affects Digital Ad Revenue?
The logical sense is: the better the UX, the bigger the revenue. However, both of them are often looked at differently, and that’s the exact misconception that we want to touch on with this article. There are lots of important UX elements of your CMS that need to be taken into account that have an enormous effect on your media publishing revenue.
Users assess your UX with every page and every click on your site. By continuing to read and browse or bounce off, they’re telling you exactly what you need to improve in your WordPress layout and performance.
The three key things to gauge the effectiveness of your digital publishing UX are bounce rate, page views per session, and session duration. Each of these metrics can be further investigated according to geo-location, landing page, and browsing device. With that, you’ll get more insight into how various users browse the articles on your site.
Those are the equivalent measurements that Google utilizes for the search algorithms to gauge the site’s quality and content, and they provide you with the exact information on what readers think of your UX.
Subjective vs Objective Data
A creative team of front-end developers and graphic designers can produce a real online publishing site masterpiece. However, the data that’s being measured on those sites does not always indicate whether it’s a better experience for the users, or an improved bottom line for the publishers.
Ultimately, the site with the better UX and metrics that proves the improved experience earns better revenue overall. When you think about gorgeous design and looks, you need to think about mobile users as well and try to not lessen their experience with unnecessary images and design elements.
At the end of the day, you need a CMS layout that will bring you readers, revenue and attract advertisers on your pages. If your goal is to have a work of art, perhaps digital publishing is not the industry that you should be in. To increase your revenue and provide better UX overall, you need to let the data guide your UX decision-making.
As we said earlier, the UX is determined by the users themselves. For example, for mobile users, page speed is a highly important factor. The density of your ads has a different effect on desktop and mobile devices as well. This is why measuring UX metrics and elements is vital. When you alter the elements according to the analytics and audience feedback, you can optimize the CMS for much higher revenue.
CPM vs ECPM
The ROI (return on investment) of digital publishing is hard to be quantified if metrics are not involved. For the majority of niches, there are metrics that determine the success of a campaign. The digital publishing industry is not an exception, and metrics such as CPM and ECPM are crucial when digital publishers, ad ops teams, and advertisers are involved to improve the UX, increase the site traffic, earning, and overall success.
Many publishers can become confused with CPM and ECPM thinking they’re basically the same metric. But, that’s not the case. Let’s begin with CPM.
CPM is short for “Cost per Mille”, or the cost per 1000 impressions. To illustrate, if an ad budget is set at $20,000 and the ad receives 200K impressions, your CPM will be $100, calculated according to the following formula:
CPM = (Cost of Campaign / Number of Total Impressions) X 1000
This is an excellent metric that can help you measure the costs of your campaigns, how much you’ll get paid per 1000 impressions, and to gauge the overall success of displaying ads on your pages. The higher the traffic, the better the CPM.
ECPM stands for “Effective Cost per Mille” and you can use it to determine the revenue that you’ve generated out of thousand impressions of an ad campaign and gauge the performance of a publisher’s inventory that is sold to various channels.
For instance, if an advertising campaign generated $10K in revenue and received 100K impressions, the ECPM would be $100 according to the following formula:
ECPM = (Estimated Earnings / Number of Total Impressions) X 1000
This measurement can be used as a vital indicator of a campaign’s performance, as well as help you optimize your pages and revenue better according to the results.
However, as good as they are as measurements, they do not take into account factors like SEO and UX and how the ads impact those factors. If your earnings per thousand visitors are going down, unmistakably, you’ll make less revenue per visitor.
With the rise of the mobile usage, AMP, and additional variables that affect the digital magazine experience, the metrics that you pay attention to must ensure that your UX and your revenue are headed in the right direction. This means that you should also take into account metrics such as bounce rate, number of visitors, revenue, and bring them all together as a whole.
A higher CPM or ECPM does not always guarantee higher revenue. As a publisher, you need to dig deep down into your analytics and learn what parts of your pages need to be optimized for better revenue and a better reading experience in the process.
Are Better UX and Bigger Revenue Possible?
Of course! The question is, what is the exact recipe for it? It’s the point in which all publishers baffle with. To discover the right formula, you need to conduct a lot of A/B and multivariate testing on your most important pages and where you want to integrate the ad units.
Let’s say that ‘Page One’ has the following stats after the testing period:
- 1.1 page views per visit
- 80% bounce rate
- ECPM = $25
That’s not a bad earning for a visit at all. It’s a win for the publisher revenue-wise, but what are we going to do about that high bounce rate and the page views per visit?
On the other hand, ‘Page Two’ might have the following stats during the testing period:
- 2.1 page views per visit
- 40% bounce rate
- ECPM = $15
The ECPM is smaller than ‘Page One’, but in terms of page views and bounce rate, the page definitely has the better UX and layout for the users. If it’s a unique page in your CMS, it might not be worth that much to your publishing business. But, if you optimize the rest of the pages accordingly, you’ll find that having similar pages to ‘Page Two’ is much better for the bottom line in the long run.
This is why UX is firmly tied to revenue. The manner in which the ad units, page layouts, and your content are laid out affect both the user experience and the overall earnings from your visitors. That’s the direction that you need to analyze your data towards.
Improving the revenue is not the only benefit from UX enhancements. It will also complement other important business metrics such as user retention, loyalty, and productivity on your pages.
If you want to achieve equilibrium between UX and revenue, you need to start paying attention to each element of your WordPress media publishing site.
Your audience can only be scaled on top of quality content and positive UX. Remember, initially, readers are not there for the ads. This is why you have to be careful when you drive people to your content and the ad units that they need to see. It’s all about a simple and positive experience, and the revenue comes as a result of it.
If you need help in scaling the UX and audience of your media publishing company don’t hesitate to contact us! At DevriX, we’ve helped scale some of the biggest WordPress publishers to hundreds of millions of monthly page views, maximizing their revenue and cut down on recurring costs in the process.
Our WordPress Core expertise is combined with our Managed Hosting Pagely partnership, our Inbound Marketing partnership with HubSpot and AdOps services for bigger traffic generation, improved UX, and immense return on your investment.