Leave Advertising Dollars on the Table
association publishers continue to struggle with shrinking ad revenue, here are
some ideas on maximizing non-dues revenue, including the importance of bringing
your stakeholders together to find solutions that benefit
It started with a simple question: "Why do
our advertisers buy space with us in the first place?Ē The answer: "Because we (associations)
have the audience they want.Ē Seems simple, right? But whatís not simple is the
path to getting the right advertisers in front of the right audience in the
Weíre living proof: Association publishers
continue to struggle with shrinking ad revenue. It was a major theme at this
yearís Association Media & Publishing Annual Meeting.
In his presentation at Annual Meeting, Sean Soth,
co-founder of Webvent Content Networks, gave the example of a client who brought
in 50 percent of its revenue from recruiting ads just a few short years ago.
Luckily, the client was able to rebound after LinkedIn and other online outlets
knocked recruitment advertising out of the equation. And now, that same client
is being challenged by mergers and acquisitions that have shrunk the pool of
potential advertisers nearly in half.
With shrinking pools of advertisers, a
decline in print advertising revenue, advertisers becoming their own content
marketers, and the abundance of media outlets, what can associations do to
maximize advertising revenue?
a non-profit association for total rewards and HR professionals, went from
selling ads to 10 large consulting firms eight years ago, to three large firms
due to mergers and acquisitions. Talk to any attendee at this yearís Annual Meeting
and youíll hear the same story.
In addition, read any article about publishing today, and
youíre likely to hear about the "death of print.Ē While publishers are
investing more into digital advertising options, the price for digital advertising
doesnít match that of previously robust print revenue.
According to the June 2015 "Global Entertainment and Media OutlookĒ from
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the future of magazine publishing remains challenging
because digital revenue barely counteracts the declines in print. And
despite the investment in digital publishing, the report states that print
remains most magazine companiesí primary source of revenue.
In addition, post-recession
advertisers are still conservative in their spending on advertising. While the
economy has grown, advertising revenue hasnít kept pace.
Boosting media sales and trimming away those products that
provide little value is more than just evaluating the associationís portfolio.
Soth suggests getting back to
basics to maximize revenue dollars. "Know your break-even,Ē he said. In other
words, association publishers need to know how much it costs to produce the
magazine or newsletter. This provides a baseline for how much revenue the
company needs to at least break even.
He also suggests that
association publishers evaluate profit-busting activity. "Weíve all been asked
to sell a survey thatís buried deep on the website, right?Ē Reassess the
strategy behind selling this. If itís important, why is it buried? If itís not,
maybe it doesnít make sense to seek sponsorship.
Cross-selling is also a great
way to increase profits. For example, if the customer purchases sponsorship of
a newsletter to a particular targeted audience, look at the portfolio of other
products that may appeal based on that targeted audience such as videos,
podcasts, events, sponsored content, etc.
Finally, Soth points out that
internal stakeholders need to work together. Get
all the stakeholders in the room including advertising sales, editorial,
marketing, and market research. What are the top problems that association
members are having? What can really make a difference to the audience and the advertising customer?
WorldatWork, for example, has started an
ongoing series of stakeholder meetings to analyse where the association is
falling short in print and digital. So far, the multidisciplinary team has
uncovered several areas where the association is not offering what its
customers are demanding, and it is developing tactics to remedy the shortfall.
Advertising revenue has become a top concern
not only for traditionally invested advertising sales teams, but for editorial,
marketing, and the association board as well. Now is the time to assess the
associationís portfolio and bring teams together to work toward the common goal
of increasing non-dues revenue.
Jean Christofferson is managing editor at
WorldatWork in Scottsdale, Ariz. Follow her on Twitter @queenofediting. Association
Media & Publishing thanks Jean for covering this Annual Meeting session for
those unable to attend.