There are a number of common concerns about email advertising. Why hasn’t the interactive marketing community embraced email ads as warmly as web display or social media?
There have been many reasons. Advertisers have expressed concern that ads will be ignored when they appear next to interesting content. Publishers fear that email newsletter ads will cause users to click away from their sites, while advertisers worry about ad performance. Both might be concerned about context and the conflict between an ad and the adjacent content. Most of these objections aren’t limited to the email channel. Below, I take a shot at answering each of the most common objections raised to email ads.
– MYTH #1: Fragmented Attention: The more options given to a reader, the more divided their focus.
The Reality: Every other medium has ads either of the interstitial (ads occurring in between content, such as a TV commercial) or the adjacent variety (ads that appear along with content, like in a magazine). People will almost always click on the most compelling content. If either kind of click makes you money, you should be happy. None of LiveIntent’s publishers have ever complained about diversion. People will always click onThe Jump to the story more often than on the ad, and very few email ad buyers (less than one percent) buy on CPC. In fact, most buy on CPM like they do in TV, newspaper, magazine and radio, so the publisher (whomever sends the email) gets paid whether they click or not.
The Verdict: Diversion is not an issue in the DVR era.
– MYTH #2: Reduced revenue for ecommerce companies that advertise 3rd party products within their marketing newsletters: Sending customers to the advertiser’s own site instead of the Retailer’s will lower conversion rates and reduce ecommerce revenues.
The Reality: A company that makes the mistake of placing a co-op ad (a larger retailer selling another company’s product- think a computer store running an ad for an a certain brand of laptop) in an email that doesn’t link to its own commerce site to sell that product is a victim of its own error. Within the email, a consumer actually clicking shows a strong expression of intent, and will likely lead to a purchase more than with no click at all: it’s axiomatic that clickers buy. The co-op dollars that laptop manufacturer Y spends to appear in computer retailer X’s offer often pay for the retailer’s advertising while the ad program stimulates revenue for both parties.
The Verdict: Co-op dollars spent on email advertising in your newsletters pay for your email program (ESP) and drive sales for the advertiser client while reinforcing your role as a source of trusted recommendations.
– MYTH #3: Reduced Revenue: Click-through rates for advertiser placements within newsletters are poor and struggle to justify continued ad sales.
The Reality: Email Ads click at a rate of 5x to 10x greater than similar IAB standard display ads placed on web sites. That’s because the email opener is 1) a subscriber, 2) trusts the content by association with the publisher, 3) spends more time in the email, and 4) is within the safe confines of their email inbox, an environment that the email user controls and feels comfortable in. People don’t click on web ads at nearly the same rate as they do in email, and they convert more in email after they click too!
The Verdict: CTR and CCR (click to conversion) are both higher in email ads than web display ads.
– MYTH #4: Negative Brand Impact: If ads are not screened carefully, companies may end up with advertisers that detract from the “Retailer X” brand. Subscribers may be annoyed by the additional promotions and unsubscribe at an increasing rate and/or complain to their ISP.
The Reality: If you are manually placing ads into whatever newsletter you’re sending, relevancy mistakes are bound to happen. If you are targeting ads at the impression level and targeting users in real time while applying rule sets and ad slot-level optimization, this doesn’t happen.
Over billions of email ad impressions have been served at LiveIntent, and no publisher has ever detected a negative impact on their brands – publisher or advertiser. In fact, consumers expect ads within free publisher content and welcome well-targeted ads. Without controls and curation, any ad could be perceived as out of place. TV, Newspapers and Magazines understand their audience and filter the ads they place, LiveIntent provides the same capability for newsletter publishers and advertisers.
LiveIntent has built safeguards into its ad serving technology using Peer39 and DoubleVerify to ensure that categories and topics of ads do not conflict with the content and audience of a newsletter. Not content with mere content and context screening, LiveIntent also put in place publisher controls and black/blocklists so that publishers can prohibit ads from placement by category and domain name. None of this is available using a traditional ad servers, or when publishers and advertisers are lacking a sophisticated exchange or real time bidding and optimization system.
The Verdict: Consumers expect ads to be intelligently placed around the media they receive. No one likes out-of-context ads that are targeted to someone else. Don’t send everyone the same ad – decide which one to show on open, in real-time, using modern optimization technologies.
– MYTH #5: Poor list quality dooms advertising success: The primary criterion for selling ad space is circulation. This creates an incentive to build the largest list possible and retain old and non-responsive addresses. Combined with higher complaint rates, this can lead to delivery problems.
The Reality: A bad list with good ads is still not going to perform well. A list that was built right and has the right ad placement will do very well. We see that every day. It’s important to remember that a list is not comprised of identical people. Your list is a collection of different people who often have different reasons for subscribing. Are all your friends the same? Treat your list members with respect by recognizing that they have different needs. It’s hard to do this if you send all of them the same thing.
The Verdict: Bad lists are bad for business.
Advertising and commerce are at the core of a successful commercial email program. If you combine the principles of success that we’ve learned from traditional publishers (focus on audience) combined with what we’ve developed to address the modern internet content consumer (focus on relevance), you can make email ads and newsletter ads work for both you and your subscribers.