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Trinity Mirror tests 'FreeWall' to boost ad spend

Trinity Mirror is experimenting with a third-way of monetising its content by running ad formats which proactively encourage audiences to interact with brands’ messaging before reading articles, as it aims to explore alternatives to raising a paywall, and make better use of its mobile inventory.

The publisher has partnered with Rezonence to include ad formats that ask users to interact with brands’ messaging mid-way through an article before they can read further.

Trinity Mirror is now offering this opportunity to advertisers as part of its sales package, using the ad tech company’s FreeWall service, as the Daily Mirror publisher seeks to improve the average yield for every ad unit it serves to its readership.

As part of the tie-up, Daily Mirror readers consuming content on both desktop and mobile devices will be asked to interact with the FreeWall ad units, in return for seeing the rest of the article free of charge (see image below) after they have demonstrated higher levels of engagement.  

The move demonstrates the publisher - which has a 25 million-strong audience - attempting to bolster its digital advertising revenue, as ad units served to audiences demonstrating enhanced levels of audience engagement offer better audience insight to advertisers, and in return will command a better advertising yield

Speaking with The Drum, Piers North, Trinity Mirror’s strategy director, said this move also signalled the company’s attempt to shift towards a “cost per engagement” pricing model for its advertising inventory. This is opposed to the standard CPM, or cost per thousand ads served, pricing model that has historically been used with display advertising inventory.

In particular, Trinity Mirror is interested in better monetising its 17 million-strong mobile audience, according to North. “Mobile is massively under-monetised,” he said, adding that this is a key priority for all publishers, given that audiences are increasingly migrating to wireless devices. 

Tim Greatrex, founding director at Rezonence, said the eventual plan was to serve each Mirror reader with one FreeWall ad unit per month, in return for free access to all other content. If such a strategy is successful at bolstering advertising yield, the publisher can then potentially explore the option of serving no other ads.

However, such a scenario would depend on whether or not Trinity Mirror can scale the FreeWall offering, according to North.

Rezonence claims the solution will help publishers better monetise the service given the notable trend towards ‘banner blindness’, i.e. when web audiences are served so many ads, that they begin to ignore them (or in some cases proactively block them) despite understanding that this is what ultimately pays for the content they are consuming.

Greatrex added: “Industry wide ad blindness is accepted as being in the 90% range and viewability c50%, this results in an approximate 0.1 per cent CTR [click through rate] for regular banners according to Double Click’s benchmarks.”

He further claimed that his company’s solution guarantees a 100 per cent viewability rate, and has an enhanced CTR of 1% compared to standard banner ad formats.   

Featured by The Drum