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Mobile-optimized site makeover delivers new ad units

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When IDG Consumer & SMB rolled out mobile-optimized sites in November, the company had more than multiplatform delivery up its sleeve. Designers also built a new template for the sites to enable ad formats that, in the first two months of operation, helped increase cross-property click-through rates by 80%. The sites, developed using HTML5, feature a new, clean layout and rich media capabilities that deliver value both to readers and advertisers, said Brian Gleason, chief revenue officer at IDG-CSMB. “We want to find an equilibrium between the user experience and off-the-chart performance for the client. I think we've found that.” The company relaunched established brands Macworld.com and PCWorld.com in November and, at the same time, debuted consumer product site TechHive.com. The sites now feature overlay ads that give marketers eight seconds of prime screen real estate, rendering on top of the most prominent stories on the home page. Branding remains after the advertisements dissolve. Smaller units are anchored within a rotating carousel of top stories. Sponsored stories are clearly labeled and displayed in the news feed. Publishers are increasingly working to integrate advertisements into their content stream. The new format is good for advertisers, said Peggy Groppo, media account director at PJA Advertising+Marketing, Cambridge, Mass. She has placed ads for clients such as Brother International Corp. on the sites. “Ads are becoming part of the news feed. It's nice because it doesn't interrupt.” The improved ad performance translates to a 0.38% click-through rate, according to IDG-CSMB. That number is still just a fragment of 1%, but it is more than the reach that advertisers in the technology vertical typically expect, Groppo said. “If you're looking at b-to-b sites, then 0.12% is considered good [for a click-though rate],” she said. “If you're looking at consumer, I'm very happy with a 0.18% or 0.19%.” And the number of clicks only paints part of the picture, she said. “We look at a lot more than CTR. We strive to get spotlight tags on the vendor pages so we can see what happens after the click. [The IDG ad units] got good clicks, and people who came to the [vendor] site spent time.” IDG is leveraging its TechSignals proprietary data platform to help marketers better target prospects, both on its own sites and across a network of technology-focused sites Gleason said.
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