How SANDOW Media Increased Revenue and CTRs With Premium Ad Experiences in Email

All the latest talk about the great email newsletter resurgence tends to focus on leveraging newsletters to build out publisher’s first-party data stores in anticipation of the third-party tracking cookie’s impending death.

But how about the fact that email newsletters offer pubs a solid additional revenue stream, especially as the cookie crumbles and CPMs are expected to dwindle?

That’s right, pubs. Imagine building a scalable direct-sold program around premium ad packages that resonate with your audience while driving deeper engagement for buyers. Well, publishers like SANDOW Media are using LiveIntent’s Native Ad Blueprints to combine native advertising and email newsletters to do exactly that. But that’s not all.

In a recent AdMonsters webinar with LiveIntent, How Pubs Are Increasing Revenue While Delivering Premium Ad Experiences In Email, Bobby Bonett, VP, Digital, SANDOW shared how SANDOW streamlined workflows while delivering dynamic ads with more granular targeting and personalization, and most importantly how they’re realizing 15X greater CTR than with display ads. 

LiveIntent connects advertisers to 200M readers engaging with email newsletters sent by 2000+ brands like The New York Times, Meredith and General Mills.

According to eMarketer native advertising is expected to reach $57.27 billion this year, and with recent technological advancements, native programmatic advertising in email is proving to be both efficient and effective, contributing significantly to publishers’ programmatic revenue. 

Native ads in email no longer require hard coding and they can also be served dynamically, opening up the revenue floodgates and delivering a seamless and personalized user experience. Native programmatic ads in email can be just as engaging as a publisher’s newsletter content, if not more so. 

“The format garners 53% more engagement than display ads,” explained Jessica Muñoz, SVP Product Marketing & GTM Strategy, LiveIntent. That’s a huge opportunity that publishers just can’t ignore.

LiveIntent’s Native Ad Blueprints can help publishers streamline their workflows to support adding premium ad inventory to their email newsletters.

Case Study: SANDOW Media’s Metropolis Magazine Customizable Ad Formats 

Metropolis Magazine partnered with LiveIntent to create a Native Ad Blueprint designed to promote sponsored content in their newsletter, allowing them to escape from display ads being their primary source of revenue for this channel.

“What’s really important to our clients is not a monumental impression share, it’s contextualization alongside premium content,” said Bonett. “And the best way we feel to contextualize an advertiser next to our premium content is elevating them to the level of our content and have that ad content blend in natively.”

Selling advertisers on the concept of their ads blending in with premium content was the easy part for SANDOW. What was tricky was selling it on the operational side. The publisher wanted their small but mighty ad ops team, across their various media brands dealing with 100s of opportunities per week, to: 

  • easily traffic approvals
  • stand up campaigns
  • edit ads on the fly without the assistance of a web editor 
  • and manage an inventory efficiently

“Being able to do all of this from a programmatic sense with the LiveIntent backend allows us to be more efficient with our time and allows that team to operate in a much more seamless way without involving unnecessary intermediaries along the way,” shared Bonett.

As well, being able to deploy reader-relevant ad units like these on time, twice per week, with approval from the client is hypercritical to the campaign’s success and high performance. This allows a publisher like SANDOW to run more campaigns more efficiently.

Personalization Wins Every Time

According to data from a recent Advertising Perceptions survey, in partnership with LiveIntent, advertisers say the quality of a publisher’s content and the quality of their first-party data are the most important criteria they use when deciding which ones they choose to partner with for sponsorships. 

“They want to know that you’re putting the same care into getting their messages in front of your readers as you do with your own content,” said Muñoz. “LiveIntent can help you tap into that personalization.”

This is precisely how SANDOW Media increased revenue and CTRs with premium ad experiences in email.

“Protecting the sanctity of the native ad content and its quality is important,” said Bonet. “If you’re backfilling with low-quality ad content readers are going to start filtering you out and it could also change their perception of your editorial content. By prioritizing relevant advertising content we have newsletters where the top-performing content is the native ad unit. You’ll never get that from a banner ad in a million years.”


Besides, don’t you want to sell beyond your current guaranteed deals and be able to run multiple campaigns with multiple sponsors and serve the right ad to the right reader at the right time?

As you should all well know, dynamic ad serving in email is not possible if you’re hard coding your ads. But compared to traditional static ad units, Native Ad Blueprints allows pubs to run simultaneous native campaigns with options to apply targeting parameters (such as locale, date, and time), as well as first-party data to fill impressions and boost yield. 

And because Native Ad Blueprints can be used across multiple ad slots, publishers can scale their native ad inventory into additional newsletters if warranted. This technology is zooming publishers’ newsletter revenue strategies light-years beyond those guaranteed deals they’re currently selling.

Sounds like a win for publishers, their advertising partners, and their readers as well. With Native Ad Blueprints publishers no longer have to worry about limited resources holding them back from providing advertisers with customizations or negatively impacting the user experience with irrelevant native ads. Talk about balancing ad quality with ad revenue. 

Below you can check out the full webinar: