icimédias digital properties drive new levels of engagement with Viafoura

icimédias is a group of  22 newspapers serving seven major regions of Quebec and Ontario, Canada: Chaudière-Appalaches, Estrie, Haut-Richelieu, Mauricie, Thetford, Victoriaville and Cornwall. They are the voice of thousands of citizens in their various regions.

As with many publishers, icimédias is experiencing challenges with enticing their digital readers to elevate their relationship from casual reader to actively engaged registered user. Says Marc-Noel Ouellette, General Director at icimédias, “our goal is to enhance the reader relationships while also collecting first-party data so that we can provide each reader with a unique and personalized experience”.

By integrating Viafoura’s Conversations, Live Blogs, Community Chat, Engagement Starter, Trending Articles, and Moderation solutions icimédias will have the means to drive new levels of engagement. Says Ouelette, “this will totally change our digital experience. We’re excited to enhance our relationships with our readers while ultimately driving unprecedented levels of conversions”.

Viafoura is equally excited to work with icimédias. Dalia Vainer, Director of Customer Success at Viafoura,  is quoted saying “we are looking forward to launching the Viafoura suite of solutions with icimédias! While they are already close to their readers, we’ll be taking engagement to a whole new level with personalization and first-party data”.

Are you unlocking the hidden value of your anonymous users?

If your media company’s monetizing its audience in any way or form, odds are, your registered users and subscribers are your biggest money-makers. Even so, the largest portion of your audience is probably made up of unknown readers who aren’t contributing much to your overall reader revenue growth.

According to recent data from Viafoura, a shocking 99.6% of publisher unsubscribed audiences, on average, are anonymous visitors. While most of these visitors are passive readers who are less committed to a company’s content than known audience members, you can still get tremendous value from them.

In reality, your anonymous audience is far from useless — it’s an untapped goldmine of information and revenue just waiting to be activated. But before you can extract the full value of your unknown visitors, you need to know exactly why and how they can become loyal and lucrative audience members.

Why publishers are prioritizing anonymous to known audience conversions

Naturally, known audience members give your organization far more data and monetization opportunities than your anonymous visitors.

Rather than waiting for registered users to appear magically, successful publishers have recognized that the key to financial success is to actively nurture their anonymous audiences and encourage them to log in. After all, each of your registered and subscribed audience members first started off as unknown visitors.

Greg Piechota, Researcher-in-Residence at the International News Media Association (INMA), explains that “[we] see reader and ad revenue strategies converging as publishers refocus on registering and logging users.”

Keep in mind that almost every anonymous user can become effectively monetized once they become registered.

Viafoura data also reveals that engaged registered users offer publishers five times more return visits than non-registered users.

Ultimately, converting your anonymous visitors to known users online is an essential step on the road to building audience loyalty and growing your company’s revenue streams.

Registration as a means to improving content performance

You can begin piecing together your users’ profiles as soon as they create profiles on your website or app. The more they interact with your content and fellow users, the more you’ll understand who they are, their needs and the types of content topics and writers they favour.

This valuable data can be harnessed to segment your users into different groups with similar interests, which can then be targeted with relevant content — including advertisements.

Of course, content that aligns more with your users’ interests is more likely to draw their attention, keeping them engaged on your website or app for longer.

“Once you understand your target audience’s needs, you can develop personalized content that addresses their biggest concerns and pain points,” outlines Gartner. “But timing is everything.”

To make the biggest impact on your audience and win over their loyalty, your media company must serve its users the content they want when they crave it, even as their needs and interests change. While you can’t get this information from unknown visitors, you can extract it through the data and comments of your known users.

Turning anonymous users into engaged subscribers

Giving anonymous users the chance to log in to your website is not only key to getting their data, but it can also make your anonymous users become dedicated to your company. The reality is that once you get your anonymous visitors to register, you’re halfway there to getting them to subscribe.

In fact, Viafoura data reveals that registered users are significantly more engaged than their unregistered counterparts, spending an average of 15 times more time on-site after registering. And all that extra time your registered users spend on your company’s website means they have more opportunities to connect with your company’s content and other users.

“News brands that see more known users see more subscribers, and brands that see longer session duration see lower rates of churn,” states Piechota. “[Research prooves that you] get one subscriber for every 10 registrations.”

The Telegraph recently shared that its audience growth goal is framed around this research. More specifically, the company is aiming fo 10 million registered users and one million subscribers as of 2023.

This reinforces the fact that you can unlock significant value — including engagement and subscription revenue — from a large portion of your anonymous audience simply by getting them to register.

So if the majority of your company’s audience is anonymous, what’s stopping you from encouraging that massive group of people to become registered, known and returning users? From there, you can use their available data and growing loyalty to your advantage, further enhancing your organization’s engagement, content, subscription and ad revenue strategies.

5 Benefits Publishers Stand To Gain With A First-Party Data Strategy

This cannot be overstated: the shift from a third-party to a first-party ecosystem will be challenging but it also presents the first opportunity in 20 years for publishers to reclaim their power among ad tech and social media giants. Media companies that move into 2022 focused almost entirely on producing superior content will attract genuinely engaged users, and win. 

And, how refreshing! Death of the third-party cookie is giving publishers the freedom to shift their attention towards a first-party ecosystem rooted in audience engagement for the first time since digital marketing and programmatic media forced their hand. 

The “clickbait” era pushed publishers and media companies to diverge from content-first strategies with misaligned incentives that benefitted nobody in the ecosystem. Publishers have focused on quantity over quality at the expense of user experience and the perceived value of their content. The quality of audiences reached by advertisers plummeted, and users lost trust in media titles they used to have delivered to their doorstep. Publishers have been stuck in a negative feedback loop since 1996 and have a chance to rethink everything in 2022. 

The shift to an advertising paradigm based on real identity, not cobbled-together proxies from a bunch of third-party cookies, is the future of advertising and a real opportunity for publishers. Audience engagement is a critical driver of conversion and first-party user data, and the lowest-hanging fruit for media organizations to implement in preparation for 2022. Automated technology makes audience engagement significantly more cost-effective and viable for publishers to collect first-party data than it ever was in an analog world. 

Here are five profits that publishers stand to gain with a first-party strategy:

The Power To Collect Fully Consented Data

First-party data is fully consented data. It’s authenticated by users who create “logged in” profiles so they can comment on articles or register their user preferences to receive more personalized notifications from a publisher. In a first-party system, publishers are transparent with how and why they are collecting first-party data, and users opt-in with full consent. Fully consented data is high-quality data, a huge improvement for publishers seeking incremental revenue from ad placement.

The Opportunity To Build A "Known" Audience

Converting users from “unknown” to “known” will be a crucial focus for publishers seeking to bridge their first-party data with the advertising ecosystem. When users feel motivated to opt-in by an attractive value exchange and become “known” to a publisher, they willfully supply first-party data that publishers can use to identify their audience segments and serve personalized ads, and experiences.

The Ability To Drive Community Engagement

Two benefits of building an active community are subscribers and ad revenue. Publishers that implement community engagement tools will dig deep into their core audience’s behaviour and interest through user engagement, behaviour, and preference data. Publishers can then plug that raw data into their paywall, business intelligence, CRM and data management platforms. 

The Benefits Of Better Content Performance

First-party offers publishers a considerable opportunity to grow their content performance with personalized recommendations (push notifications) informed by data collected from logged-in users. Personalization gives users what they want (and ask for) and leads to higher engagement while respecting opt-outs. Investing in personalization tools will pay off with serious rewards.

First-Party Data Ownership

First-party data ownership will save many publishers’ faltering ad businesses by giving them exclusive possession of their audience information. Ownership will become increasingly important when publishers pitch advertisers their first-party data sets and soon become the pillar of programmatic advertising sales. The sooner that publishers begin developing their first-party data sets, the better (and more significant) their programmatic ad sales outcomes will be.

The Bottom Line:

When one door closes, another one opens. Death of the third party cookie is giving publishers the freedom to shift their attention away from the third-party programmatic ad model towards a first-party ecosystem rooted in audience engagement for the first time in over 20 years. The media business is returning to a golden era of great content and growing audiences.

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