PubForum Prep: Driving Revenue Through a User-First Mindset

When we talk about maintaining a quality user experience while maximizing monetization efforts, publishers have suggested for ages that these two goals oppose each other. Advertisers want to make sure their ads appear in prominent, unmissable positions–and users don’t want anything getting in the way of the content they crave.

Bonnie Kintzer has a different perspective, as President and CEO of Trusted Media Brands (the company you would’ve known as Reader’s Digest Association up until 2015). Today, she says, user experience and monetization go hand in hand–better UX means higher rates of engagement, and better engagement means more value to advertisers. There’s much to discuss about this approach, and about how UX has guided Trusted Media Brands’ whole journey from its legacy print days to its present as a multi-platform media organization. Bonnie will get into it at the upcoming Publisher Forum in Huntington Beach, CA, in her morning keynote, “Driving Revenue Through a User-First Mindset,” on Mon., March 5. (Better register for PubForum now, while seats remain.) But for now, she’s taken the time to answer a few to-the-point questions about the real relationship between user experience and monetization.

Bonnie Kintzer_smallUser experience has been a big concern for Trusted Media Brands for the past few years. What are some of the main UX issues you’ve addressed along the way, and where are you personally focused on UX at the moment?

We’ve been very focused on page load speed. We know from our users that if they can’t get to the content they are interested in very quickly, they lose patience. We are constantly working to improve their experience and are particularly focused on areas such as page load speed, since so much of content features incredible visual images of everything from delicious home-cooked meals to inspiring design and decorating ideas.

We’ve also been focused on navigation and making content on our sites easily discoverable through whatever form of navigation the site visitors prefer. This is another area where we believe we can improve our UX and will continue to focus on going forward.

UX and monetization are no longer in opposition. The better the UX, the higher the monetization.

Bonnie Kintzer Trusted Media Brands

What unique perspective does Trusted Media Brands bring to the table, in the discussion about balancing UX and monetization?

The days of pop-up ads and truly intrusive ads that block content (and with no obvious way to get out of the experience) are long gone. So UX and monetization are no longer in opposition.

In fact, the opposite in true these days. The better the UX (page load speed, content discoverability and interaction, etc.), the higher the monetization. This is primarily due to things like viewability, engagement, and other user metrics that become increasingly valuable to an advertiser.

Describe your vision for the optimal ad experience on a Trusted Media Brands site. What factors influence that vision?

Interestingly, we are currently redesigning the article templates on our site to incorporate our current vision. We expect the results to be extremely popular with both consumers and our marketing partners. Of course, we can’t share them at this point, but definitely stay tuned.

How do you handle conversations with advertisers who are pushing experiences that you consider intrusive?

Fortunately, we haven’t had too many of those experiences. In general, we always try to help them understand the value of how creating a better UX experience on our sites will enable us to help them drive ROI for their campaign and affinity for their brand with our consumers.