by Ben Staley on November 9th, 2011
This article, written by TheMediaBriefing, is a great introduction into a narrow way many publishers think about monetizing their free sites through ads (with content like this, you should be following them on Twitter). And how to broaden your perspective to truly maximize the potential of your site.
For many online communities, whether start-up or mature, the size of their user base may be viewed as the end-all, be-all. It’s not uncommon for communities (especially dating sites) to purchase users from 3rd parties to build the site up and market a larger user base. Profit, then, is seen as “more users equals more visits equals higher CPMs and ad revenue.” Easy, right? Anyone can be a millionaire internet mogul!
Not so fast. This theory often depends not just on a large user base, but that the large user base cycles through the site often enough to drive up the visitor and page view numbers. Or, if you’re not cycling through your existing users, you’re going to have to find new ones. Lots of them.
So rather than narrowing your thinking to strictly page views and visitors, think too of the true star of the show: engagement. The site that wins in the long run doesn’t always start with the largest user base. Rather, the site that wins starts with a very engaged user base.
To understand levels of engagement, expand your focus past page views and visitors to session length and return frequency–indicators that your user base finds your site’s content worth returning to. These measurements lend themselves to helping you not only figure out how well you’re monetizing your site, but how well you’re monetizing each USER.
Think of your community’s value this way: you can make the same amount of money by getting 10 users to your site who view one page and then churn, or by getting 2 users to your site who view 5 pages before logging out. Which type of user is more valuable? If you focus on building your site out in a way the makes users want to spend more time on your site, and adding features that draw users in, your users become more valuable.
For free ad-based sites that want to add chat features to drive engagement, this has been a traditionally tricky decision. “Do I engage my users with a pop-out or embedded chat experience, at the cost of page views and ad revenue?” Luckily for you, Userplane has a new solution ideal for communities with this business model: Presencebar.
Unlike most hosted, white-label chat experiences, Presencebar is persistent, and is not a pop-out window or embedded element. As a persistent IM experience (with the capability to support group chat), your users can engage with others in their social graph, all while remaining focused on your site’s valuable content, rather than being drawn away from it.
We would love to show you what Presencebar can do for your community. If you’re interested in discussing how Userplane’s solutions can increase the value of your users by driving engagement, drop us a line.