When it comes to web publishing, user experience (UX) is everything; no matter the nature of your site, a positive experience can have a direct impact on your business. With online video expected to represent 82 percent of consumer Internet traffic by the year 2021, the opportunity to prioritize monetization and boost video CPMs is greater than ever before.
A focus on user experience design offers other benefits to media companies as well, including its favorable effect on search rankings. Let's take a look at five ways to optimize your site's UX for both the benefit of your company and advertisers.
1. Make It Mobile-Friendly
"Mobile-first" has been a rallying cry for several years now, but there's never been a better time to take it seriously. ComScore has found that the average consumer spends nearly 3 hours per day on mobile, which now accounts for about 7 in 10 digital media minutes.
We've come to a point where web users don't just appreciate a good mobile site experience, but expect it. They're counting on publishers and broadcasters to give them easy access to content — including video. With more than 80 percent of U.S. mobile users now streaming video on their smartphones, a mobile-enabled site has become a key component of a good user experience. And if that's not reason enough, Google strongly considers mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal, so this strategy can enhance your search rankings, too.
2. Leverage Google's AMP
You can take your mobile site's performance one step further by creating your pages using Google's open source AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project, launched last year. As reported by Recode, a recent study by Chartbeat showed that AMP pages typically load in about 1.4 seconds, while standard mobile web pages can take up to 5.3 seconds, making AMP pages nearly four times faster.
Publishers like The Washington Post, Slate, Gizmodo, and Wired are all using AMP, and they're seeing an increase in site traffic, unique monthly visitors, and CTRs from search results. Users are getting faster access to published stories, and they're better able to access video content, too — whether the starting point is a search page or a social site like Twitter.
AMP pages can now be found in Google's organic mobile search results, and as Search Engine Land revealed last summer, 90 percent of AMP publisher have higher click-through rates and 80 percent of them see higher ad viability rates. As noted by Search Engine Land, Google has said that when up against a typical mobile-friendly page, the AMP option will be served instead.
Note that if you use Google's AMP Cache to serve your AMP pages, your domain name will not appear in the URLs of the pages (see this article for details). To work around this, consider serving your pages through Cloudflare's Ampersand service, which "enables publishers to receive the performance benefits of AMP without having to give up control of the domain."
All in all, AMP provides an opportunity for publishers to optimize mobile videos to generate more visits and views — certainly worth a test.
3. Optimize for Speed
Optimizing your website's performance is another must for improving the UX, as it can influence your advertisers' video views through conversion rates. So how do you make sure your site loads quickly enough to satisfy your users?
For starters, limit the use of third-party add-ons and get rid of any unused plugins taking up space and slowing you down. Tools like Ghostery, which is designed to speed up your site, can help, and limiting add-ons to fewer than 20 is a good general rule. File compression, which minimizes the size of your image files, is also sure to improve your site's performance without affecting the quality of your graphics. Finally, you'll want to make sure you're using a video player that's built for speed. Even the best video content will suffer from low engagement rates if it doesn't load quickly enough for viewers.
4. Ensure That Your Site is Secure
Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) not only makes for a good experience for users, helping to protect their passwords, personal data, and credit card information, but can also help improve your site's search rankings and brand image. Google has begun to label HTTP pages containing password or credit card fields as “not secure,” and plans to post more consumer warnings later this year. That can have a negative effect on how your brand is perceived.
Without a secure site, everything from your users' searches to the video content they consume is visible. The added layer of encryption provided by HTTPS mitigates these risks, so your users can rest assured that their data is always safe. “Don’t wait to get started moving to HTTPS,” Google writes. “HTTPS is easier and cheaper than ever before, and it enables both the best performance the web offers and powerful new features that are too sensitive for HTTP.”
5. Align Your Front and Back End Efforts
Publishers are producing more high-quality content than ever before, but good content doesn't necessarily mean a good user experience. For that, you need to maximize your back end strategy, too.
Fan-centric media company Creators Media encourages publishers to prioritize content delivery by embracing lean rendering (generating "only the content that really matters" rather than pulling the entire page from the server). Although the company points out that content is king, balancing it with metadata designed to improve SEO meets the needs of stakeholders to provide a user experience that works on all levels.
When your goal is to lift video CPMs and monetize your site to the max, a great UX really is everything. We're willing to bet your users would tell you the same.
Want to know more? Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, focusing on “Video Publishing Best Practices.”
Contact JW Player today to talk about how we can help you improve your site's viewer experience in order to achieve higher video CPMs.