If you’re wondering whether ad-supported media is working for your business, you’re not alone. There are conflicting opinions on the efficacy of ad-supported media. But there are reasons to think it still works, not least because it’s generating revenue for some highly successful companies. With the right formula, ads could work for you.
Fears about the future of ad-supported digital media were stoked again this month when Medium co-founder Evan Williams described ad-driven internet media as a “broken system.”
But according to Jay Lauf, president and publisher of business site Quartz, ad-supported online publishing models still work. Quartz itself has been largely ad-supported since its inception in 2012, and generated around $30 million in revenue in 2016, according to people familiar with the site.
“I don’t think there’s a death of digital advertising on the horizon,” Mr. Lauf said during this week’s episode of the Media Mix podcast.
Rather, the problem with the online ad model is some of the ad formats and approaches publishers have adopted, Mr. Lauf said.
“There’s been a problem with really crummy digital advertising that has created some of the issues,” he said. “One of our early suppositions was, with a clean canvas to paint on, why would you go back and replicate all of the lousy ad experiences that have led to low [ad rates], shoddy business models, ad blockers and all the rest of it?”
As a result, Quartz decided to shun standardized banner ads and to avoid selling its ad space through intermediaries, opting instead to sell custom ad formats and sponsored content directly to marketers and their agencies.
Another benefit of that model is you don’t need to amass a huge audience to generate significant advertising revenues, assuming you can maintain higher ad prices, according to Mr. Lauf.
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