The Google News Initiative Revenue Accelerator

Google News Initiative, LION Publishers, and 10up Partnership

The GNI Revenue Accelerator Program is a partnership between the Google News Initiative, LION Publishers, and 10up focused on establishing a foundational blueprint for local publishers to comprehensively optimize their web-based revenue. The pilot program kicked off in September 2019 and will continue throughout 2020.

The conditions for quality local journalism can be daunting. Digital ad revenue isn’t growing fast enough to offset decreases in print ad revenue, even as news organizations need to invest more to keep pace with digital innovation and change. As larger publishers leverage their resources to quickly adopt and integrate new technologies, they attract more readers and widen the gap between large-scale publishers and smaller publishers who lack the same resources.

The GNI Revenue Accelerator Program aims to help local publishers keep pace, by providing technology resources to drive insights, traffic, engagement, and revenue yield. The core solutions and tactics the program offers are focused on universally applicable challenges and relatively easy-to-implement solutions. The goal isn’t to just help the publishers in the program, but to provide all publishers with a data-backed reference point for growing their audience and increasing their revenue.

Three initial LION publishers, The Long Beach Post, VT Digger, and BK Reader, formed the initial test bed for the program.

  • 10up began with an assessment and benchmarking process for each publisher’s website, focused on key metrics and practices that influence audience and revenue performance.
  • An “opportunity roadmap,” weighted by effort and potential impact, was presented to each publisher, which was used to prioritize and schedule implementation of improvements.
  • With a plan in place, 10up collaborated with each publisher on implementation, sometimes implementing the roadmap and other times advising and consulting with internal publisher teams.

As the improvements launched, 10up worked closely with each publisher to measure key metrics against the initial benchmarks established. While it can take some time to get a reliable new benchmark, early results from the first round of improvements have been encouraging and exciting:

Long Beach Post

Within the first eight weeks of the study, Long Beach Post set new records for the top-performing post measured by both organic traffic and revenue, and the extra revenue generated in the first three months was enough to hire a full-time staff writer.

Other notable results include:

  • An incremental $4k/month in programmatic revenue.
  • Reducing unfilled impressions from 150k to close to under 100.
  • A 65% increase in viewability by implementing lazy loading and active view refresh.
  • A 364% increase in rich results impressions and a 42% increase in rich results clicks by implementing AMP.
  • A 35% increase in the percentage of new sessions from search.
  • 10x user subscription growth from their web notification platform, producing thousands of sessions each week.

Revenue-focused Support And Consulting

Participation in the program is ongoing, which means 10up continues to provide and measure revenue-focused digital strategies for these publishers, often testing new tactics that could positively impact their audience and revenue growth.

While acceptance into the hands on program is limited, early successes have led to two more publishers recently onboarding. Over the next few months, 10up will be comparing notes with similar programs from around the world with the intention of documenting and sharing strategies that will help small and local publishers around the world attain greater business sustainability.

A Tactical Blueprint For Publishers

Ultimately, the goal of the Revenue Accelerator program is to document the findings from its hands-on efforts, and publish a tactical blueprint local and small publishers can use as a reference point for website improvements.

From Google AMP and AMP ads, to article markup and sitemaps, to the optimization of ads, images, and page speed, 10up is documenting tactical, practical solutions to common challenges and opportunities for small publishers as each new solution is implemented and measured. A website detailing the program findings will be published near the end of Q1 2020. Once live, publishers will be able to find real world, recommended solutions, including step-by-step instructions for implementation, and case studies of participating publishers who traveled the same path.

To find out more about the Google News Initiative Revenue Accelerator or to learn how 10up can help you achieve your digital publishing goals, contact us today.

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