Like-Minded Users: Looking Beyond Editorial Strategy to Grow Audience

Try house ads in another house.

Online publishers have a lot of problems to think about when it comes to ad management. To maximize their revenue, they have several levers to pull including inventory pricing tiers and models as well as sales channels (direct sales vs. ad networks and exchanges).

Yet, marketers are buying audience. So before publishers even start thinking about how to monetize their content, they need to consider how to build their audience.

To build an audience that will be attractive to advertisers, publishers have to ensure a steady stream of traffic to demonstrate to marketers that the editorial environment is appealing and ensure campaign delivery. It is important that they gather readers with an attractive profile, as advertisers evaluate social demographics and mindset criteria and affinity against their target.

Because the online media landscape is so fragmented, media buyers need scale solutions to reach their target. So publishers must grow their reach against this profile.

Audience is defined as readers engaging with content. Publishers should not forget that editorial quality is not only the key value proposition to the readers but the core element of an audience growth strategy.


The Best Proxy

Content attracts readers of a specific mindset and interest. Thus, the best proxy for a publisher to grow its audience is to source and acquire like-minded readers. Ideas People Channel, a business unit of The Economist Group that manages three vertical ad networks, is built on the idea that curious, opinionated and influential people are attracted to a defined set of premier publishers.

Beyond monetizing their unsold inventory, our publishers understand that the best place to find audience similar to their own is within our network. When a number of them started calling us about advertising on other sites within our network, we thought there must be a better answer.

So we enlisted the help of AudienceFUEL, a startup that helps sites trade unsold ad inventory with other publishers to build a bigger audience. AudienceFUEL’s CEO was formerly the SVP of new media and innovation at Active International, the industry leader in brick-and-mortar corporate trade – so we were confident that AudienceFUEL would know how to make the most of unused inventory.

House Ads in Another House


Our publishers are swapping unsold inventory, trading house ads with like-minded publishers and exposing their brands to new audiences. House ads perform better when they run in another house, so if you can find the right partners, it’s a true win-win.

Ideas People Channel is a fully transparent network, so it was important that the barter platform give each publisher control over what ads are running on the site. AudienceFUEL’s platform manages any competitive conflicts.

When publishers work with sites of similar quality to mutually spread the word, it creates a virtuous circle in which even publishers as different as The New Republic and Reason can help each other find new readers.


Advertisers buy Ideas People Channel to reach an influential audience at scale. If we can help each of our publishers build their own audience, our inventory will grow and their profits will rise.