Performance Is the New Currency for Independent Publishers | Sponsored Content

This article was contributed and sponsored by Publishers Clearing House.

Performance-driven marketers are rapidly approaching a saturation point with social platforms, where fierce competition and diminishing returns are leading many brands and agencies to explore alternatives. Any serious alternative channel must provide competitive audience scale, precise targeting, brand-safe inventory, and measurement against performance outcomes, all within an engaging environment that compels the consumer toward action and is sticky enough to keep those users coming back.

The goal of finding engaged consumers is core to this quest. Yet, engagement is much more than an industry buzzword; it’s the concrete outcome of a strong bond between a publisher and its community. Few traditional publishers can rise to the engagement challenge, particularly those that focus on “lean back” content experiences. Success lies in an artful combination of audience scale and engaging experience all in a logged-in environment where there is trust between the publisher and the user. Not an easy task.

Within our own community, this engagement is reflected in video completion rates, email opens or app installs, purchases, time spent, and interactions with free-to-play chance-to-win experiences that have been core to the Publishers Clearing House (PCH) brand promise for a half-century. They’re what ensure we achieve the ultimate engagement outcome. As our understanding of these different types of engagements within our environment becomes more granular, performance itself becomes valuable currency—for us and for our brand partners.

Community Drives Performance

As a top multi-category publisher, PCH has an extraordinarily engaged, registered community that visits its properties daily for both shopping and entertainment, generating rates of engagement (more than 10 minutes per visit on average) that outperform other properties. This high level of customer involvement results in an incredibly unique community and has led to the emergence of PCH as a trusted source for performance-oriented brands.

PCH’s position highlights the relationship between engaged community and performance marketing. Our position is the outward manifestation of a decades-long commitment to providing fun and interactive experiences that stick. The PCH diversified experience includes chance-to-win entertainment, free gaming and prize-winning opportunities that have translated well into the digital age, where we now operate a portfolio of cross-platform sites, apps, and commercial brands. Today, PCH is one of the largest direct marketers in the US, with nearly a billion-dollar commerce marketplace. But even more meaningfully, it’s a leading destination for millions of Americans living in the heartland, who are deeply engaged and motivated to take action. This strength is incredibly beneficial for marketers focused on performance.

It’s worth noting that our commitment to America’s Heartland is further strengthened with the recent acquisition of Wide Open Media, which publishes over 1,000 pieces of original content a month on topics the heartland audience values and is most likely to engage with—from country living to outdoor life, food, pets, and more. Together the brands deliver over 1.2 billion views a month.

In the Attention-Driven Economy, Habit Fuels Engagement

Adapting strategies for an attention-driven economy means that advertising and marketing not only compels a consumer to make a one-off-purchase, but also establishes the groundwork to build a behavior and habit. All marketing is shepherded by the underlying theory of precipitating some kind of action, ultimately leading to revenue. But attention-driven economies dictate that marketing needs to not only drive adoption, but also foster the type of rapt engagement that acts as a foundation for an ongoing relationship.

Publishers need to harness this mentality as they build their own communities. They need to build experiences that naturally promote action, versus lean-back consumption. In an economy pegged on attention, engagement, and performance, consumers expect experiences that perpetuate connections digitally. This expectation requires more marketing and product alignment among publishers. The independent publishers that are nimble enough to forge this alignment will find they’ve built greater currency within an exchange that will continue to pay dividends in the years to come.

—Heather Macaulay, head of marketing & strategy, Publishers Clearing House