5 Publishing Tricks That Brands Should Avoid
When entering the brave new world of brand publishing, it can be difficult to know what to do and what not to do.
A good rule of thumb can be to look at the best practices of the sites you read every day, but even the best publishers adopt sketchy tricks to milk extra page views and ad dollars.
As a brand publisher, your primary measure of success probably isn’t page views and ad revenue, so you don’t have to copy publisher tricks that can hurt your user experience and reputation.
Here are 5 to look out for:
1. Article pagination
Article pagination hurts the reader experience, and should never be copied by brand publishers.
Have you ever finished the first 7 paragraphs or so of a long piece before being asked to click to page 2? Isn’t that annoying? Wouldn’t you much prefer to just keep scrolling and reading.
When a site forces you to click through multiple pages to read a piece, it’s not because the entire piece couldn’t fit on one page. It’s because the publisher wants extra page views and ad impressions. Article pagination hurts the reader experience, and should never be copied by brand publishers.
2. Unnecessary slideshows
Slideshows often ruin pieces by making them unintelligible.
Oh, the slideshow. Sites like HuffPo and Bleacher Report have long embraced the slideshow as page-view Viagra. After all, why get one click when you can get 22? Well, because all that clicking frustrates readers, and slideshows often ruin pieces by making them unintelligible.
3. Autoplay video ads
Avoid auto play video ads; it’s the equivalent of yelling at shoppers with a bullhorn.
If you’re a brand publisher, you’ve likely heard these words in an office meeting: “We can subsidize the publishing costs with video ads!”
Indeed, video ads are a shining beacon to publishers worn down by plummeting display ad CPMs. But instead of waiting for readers to watch videos, some publishers take it upon themselves to guarantee those ad impressions by auto-playing video ads as soon as you land on their site. It can be truly startling when you head to a magazine’s site and the audio for State Farm’s “Mayhem” commercial starts blasting out of nowhere.
As a brand publisher, your main goal isn’t video ad revenue. Avoid auto play video ads; it’s the equivalent of yelling at shoppers with a bullhorn.
4. Unpaid labor
This strategy fails to elicit much good will.
Many publishers — HuffPo and Bleacher Report are again the most notorious offenders — rely on armies of unpaid interns and contributors to fill their site with a flood of content that maximizes page views.
This strategy fails to elicit much good will, and if a brand publisher was exposed taking advantage of young writers desperate for clips and experience, the fallout would be extremely harmful.
5. Pageview-based pay
Pageviews aren’t the be-all and end-all of your success metrics.
Performance pay is an intriguing possibility for brand publishers, but brand publishers should never adopt a pure pageview-based pay system.
Pageviews aren’t the be-all and end-all of your success metrics. As a brand publisher, you’re probably interested in things like view-through sales conversions and brand engagement, and you also have different concerns than most publishers in terms of how your brand comes across.
If your pay system inherently encourages your writers to write racy, off-brand content in hopes of earning more page views, you’re in for a world of trouble.