Publishers: You Can’t Measure ROI Effectively Unless You Do THIS

Thought Leadership

Omry Aviry
5 min read

Digital publishing is a cutthroat world, but you knew that already, right? After all, that’s why you’re here: because you care about staying ahead of the pack.

In a system where more and more advertisers are switching to programmatic methods, you need to make sure that you’re more efficient and effective than ever at managing and positioning ads, as well as overseeing your marketing spend. You need to know that your hard-won audience is going to stick around and browse through as many pages as possible on the site, and engage with as much content as possible.

All of which informs your decision about the kind of metrics you need to measure to keep hitting those all-important KPIs.

The trouble is, analyzing these factors in real time is tough. Typically, your data and analytics is scattered across a bunch of different platforms and presented in a bunch of different formats. It’s hard enough to get a side-by-side picture of how well your content performs on, say, Taboola vs Outbrain. Trying to figure out whether content on just one channel performed better on mobile in Canada or desktop in Australia can feel like an impossible task.

Publishers measure ROI

It’s All About the KPIs

Whether it’s reader volume, pages browsed, or another KPI that keeps you up all night, there are some recurrent themes that you will keep pulling you back – and some deep-level questions you need to ask.  

For example, what impact does the time of day that you share your content have on your overall user value (how much revenue earned per reader from a particular campaign)? Just looking at an overall daily average won’t tell you this. However, once you delve in and track this factor, you will likely find that it has a surprisingly large impact on your total number of readers, how many pages they read on the site, and how much that is worth to you in ad revenue.

Once you go a step further and link these insights to the amount of money you spent on placing and distributing that specific piece of content, you begin to get a much more accurate and insightful picture of your ROI.

Publishers measure ROI

Sounds Great… How Do I Do That?

Ultimately, it all comes down to the system you have in place to manage your content distribution at scale.

The key to figuring out if your content distribution is actually helping you hit your KPIs is simple: aggregate – in a single dashboard – exactly where your content is placed (in terms of channel, GEOs and devices), the combination of title, image and meta description you used, exactly how many visitors it brought back to the mothership, and – if ROI is the big one for you – how much money you made out of those visitors.

The best way to do that is to figure out how much you had to spend on external channels in order to bring in those readers, how many ads they interacted with on your site once they were there, and which ads these were. All of this helps you to figure out the true user value of the site or article.

From there, with the right tech at your fingertips, it should be simple to attribute your costs to your revenues, to see your profit and ROI in real time.

In fact, with a really good platform on your side, you’ll even be able to set ROI thresholds, so you can see which pieces aren’t just ROI-positive, but actually meet or exceed the ROI thresholds that you’ve set. Armed with this information, you can quickly take things up a notch, honing in on the most valuable campaigns – the “low hanging fruit” – to maximize profitability.

Of course, trying to do this manually would be hellish. You need to invest in a well-honed platform that will draw in data from all your sources, turn this into a coherent pool of information, analyze it, and lay out the insights in a way you understand. One that automates as much of the process as possible, to reduce your workload while giving you instant access to insights that will propel you to the top of your game.


Omry Aviry
Omry is the Chief Product Officer at PubPlus. His passion for mobile and web environments got him in the loop: Define, Design, Test, Repeat. Defining, designing and developing great products and features is both Omry's passion, and his job. Apart from his tech obsession, Omry is a huge car enthusiast, doting husband, and a father to two beautiful children.