Revealed: How to Answer the Questions Publisher Are Asking

Thought Leadership

Gil Bar-Tur
3 min read

There are some questions that no one seems to be able to get an answer to: what  came first, the chicken or the egg? Why is there more matter than antimatter in the universe? What kind of dirt did Hollywood have on Dustin Hoffman to get him to star in Little Fockers?

… And, of course: how on earth do I figure out which content will get me the most ROI?

The Big Questions for Publishers…

Here’s the problem. You put out a bunch of campaigns, you’re firing on all cylinders, experimenting with a bunch of exciting new ideas and then – BAM! – money starts rolling in

But which of your efforts had the magic touch? How do you figure out which campaigns your revenue is coming from – and which revenue sources are linked to which articles? When you’re putting out tons of content, how do you zone in on which pieces are ROI positive, and which haven’t contributed to your KPIs at all?

In fact, how can you hope to manage your content effectively when you’re scaling up and spreading it across multiple platforms, GEOs and devices?

And, most importantly, how do you gain the crucial, real-time oversight that allows you to easily analyze for insights and figure out what actions you should be taking to enhance your campaigns? How can you hope to keep track of what revenue is coming from which cost sources without these capabilities?

Because if you’re going to replicate the success of your highest-performing articles and cut loose the destinations that don’t deliver, you need rapid, actionable insights on your key metrics: reader volume, pages per session and positive ROI. These are the details that will help you identify the low-hanging fruit that will really boost your profit margins.


In this article, we’re going to show you how.

Step One: Put it Out There

We’re not going to tell you how to craft a great piece of content: you know how to do that.

But I’m guessing that what you’re less sure about is: am I putting it in the right place?

It’s impossible to know in advance precisely who will respond well to your content or where they’ll engage with it. That’s why most publishers start by hitting as many different channels, devices and GEOs as possible, all at once, but the skill here is finding a way to analyze this instantly, so that you narrow things down fast enough to ensure that you’re never wasting your money.

Which takes us to…

Step Two: Get the Right Tech in Place

To assess what’s working, and to respond in real time to maximize profits, you’ll need a platform that allows you to track all your campaigns across all your sites and partners, from a single location.

Jumping between the internal analytics portals of Taboola, Outbrain, Facebook and so on isn’t going to cut it. All these guys have different ways of doing things and different timescales for providing insights, making it nigh-on impossible to get the coherent, consistent, timely overview you need to keep honing your performance.

Look for a platform that gives you all your vital information in one place. One that’s powerful enough to let you drill down to details as well as create, launch, and identify campaigns – not only by channel, but also by geographic location and the kind of device your content was read on.

Third: Implement Your Findings

Once you have a system in place to accumulate real-time data on every touchpoint, interaction and visitor, you have everything you need to figure out exactly what’s working and what’s not.

Now all you have to do is make sense of it super-fast and put it into action rapidly enough to make these insights profitable.

Piece of cake, right?

Or… not. Again, your ability to act on your hard-won insights is totally reliant on the tech solution you have in place. When you’re working at scale, your system needs to be smart enough to integrate with every platform you work with and tweak your campaigns immediately, without you ever leaving your dashboard.

The ideal solution will automatically calculate how much money you’re making from viewers brought from each strand of each campaign, by comparing the amount of money you earn from ads on your page with the amount of money you paid to distribute the content. In other words, you can see at a glance what your ROI was on a specific piece of content, on a specific location, on a specific device, in a specific part of the world, and if it’s not worth the spend, you can nip it in the bud.

In fact, the perfect technology will be able to go even further, tracking in real time which campaigns are at risk of slipping below the KPIs you’ve set, whether that’s a minimum ROI threshold, a target for traffic, or something else entirely. Then, the platform will actually divert bids away from the ones that aren’t working, or adapt and increase bids for the ones that are.

With tools that intelligent and powerful, not only are you equipped to make better decisions, you’ll also never come into work in the morning to find your entire budget’s been sunk on a dud campaign while you were away!

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is this: you have to be nimble enough to respond at lightning speed to changes in trends, viewing habits that affect ROI at different times of day, and preferred platforms. Without a smart way to keep your finger on the pulse, the slightest change to a site algorithm can throw your whole strategy out of kilter!

This means that your content distribution platform needs to work faster than you ever can. The best solutions can connect the dots between your data sources, conduct super-fast analysis and use machine learning to predict and adapt to changing customer behaviors, helping you to pinpoint your best leads from the get-go.

So, publishers: stop pulling your hair out over the “unanswerable questions”. The fact is, the answers are out there… you just have to know what you’re looking for, and have the right tech on your side to help you find it.

Gil Bar-Tur
Online publishing enthusiast, UX geek, and data science nerd. Combining all three of these brought Gil to start PubPlus: a platform allowing publishers to deep-dive into specific segments of information and extract insights in order to take action in real-time. He is also a self-confessed foodie with years of experience in restaurant selection.