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The key to monetising foreign markets

“The two fundamental trends of our age – globalisation and digitisation – have created an extraordinary opportunity for people around the world to access the world’s most trusted and insightful journalism”Robert Thomson - Editor-in-Chief of Dow Jones and Company and Managing Editor of The Wall Street Journal
Publishers speaking at AOP’s Forum on 8 July are seeing tangible results from segmenting, understanding and then monetising a long tail of international users, though, they warned, you should never make any assumptions about understanding local audiences, and be prepared for the idiosyncrasies of regional ad ecosystems.

Premium international versus remnant

Challenging the traditional view of global inventory as ‘remnant’, Louisa Wong, Sky Digital Media’s Head of Network Advertising explained how Sky is gaining valuable returns in Asia, through a mix of local sponsorship deals, and close coaching and guidance given to regional sales partners. She advised:

  • Build up each regional audience and commercial proposition simultaneously
  • Consider self-representation in relevant markets

Luisa Bright, Group Associate Director, Carat Digital agreed, saying that ‘remnant’ is only viewed as such because agencies don’t have the relevant audience information from publishers. This data needn’t be exhaustive, just “enough to justify it will deliver on the client’s objectives.”

From an agency perspective, global monetisation has been on the agenda for a couple of years, though never at the top of it, due to the cost of adapting creatives, among other things. Still – the opportunity is there for anyone who can “match brand to audience, extending their reach with contextually relevant ads.”

The “2nd Channel” Approach

Alternatively, publishers might also want to consider specialist partners, when looking to optimise international revenues. Joëlle Frijters, CEO and Founder of yield optimiser Improve Digital was on hand to explain how she and her team are offering a middle way between sales house and the complete automation offered by ad networks & exchanges, with an international focus.

This “2nd channel” approach, she said, offers the efficiency of automation with a human touch and, crucially, higher yields. In regular contact with the networks, Improve brings together the benefits of automatic real time optimisation, while enabling networks to make higher spot buys on your site.

The Wall Street Journal’s move to Europe

Taking a holistic approach to extending its worldwide reach, the launch of WSJ.com Europe followed extensive research into the demands of European readers and advertisers, feeding into a localised homepage and navigation.

Tristan Leaver, its Director of Business and Audience Development, EMEA, emphasised the importance of localised editorial as well as ads.

The Wall Street Journal Europe"Differentiate your audience" worldwide, urged WSJ.com's Tristan Leaver“Apply the same rigour” you do for the UK to foreign markets, he urged, producing a useful checklist for publishers looking to expand in global markets:

  • Be Unique – differentiate your audience, as the Guardian has done successfully in the US, as (in the words of Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger) “the world’s leading liberal voice”
  • Size matters – If national audiences don’t offer sufficient scale, pursue pan-regional deals - WSJ.com, for instance, offers global, pan-European, as well as regional targeting
  • Be distributed – be smart about how you cover the ground, forging content/distribution deals and partnerships – making use of allies, as WSJ Europe is doing with its News Corp colleagues, driving traffic and sharing data between their sites
  • Customer Service is paramount – for subscribers in WSJ.com’s case, but this also applies to ad clients – having a local ad operations team has brought real benefits, in terms of response times, and client support
  • Engage offline too – you learn more from face-to-face meetings with customers and advertisers, than you ever can from desk research

“No great thing is created suddenly”

The event chair, Bauer Media Head of Digital Sales Kurt Edwards stressed that “convincing international markets of the value of your brands” takes time.

Similarly, Leaver said that monetising international audiences “is not simply a question of adding new clients”, but may be seen as a change management process in itself, perhaps even part of a 3 or 5 year plan, “to be woven into the DNA of your company.”

Subscriptions and advertising are “just the bedrock” for digital publishers’ international businesses going forward, he said. Their continued development and future success rests on the cultivation of our relationship with the reader.

The AOP Forum on Monetising International Audiences was sponsored by Improve Digital.

Coverage: FarneyMedia - Publishers At AOP Event Discuss The Merits Of The Ad Exchange Platform

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