Salem Web Network Brings Email Advertising into the Light with AdServer for Email
The Salem Web Network includes more than 20 global brands with faith-related content for all aspects of Christian living including Bible study, daily devotion, marriage, parenting, entertainment, news, and more. The network averages more than 100 million views per month across its websites, video channels and mobile apps. 17 million email subscribers – the loyal, opt in followers at the heart of a publisher’s audience – are included in that reach.
Those newsletters are invaluable when it comes to reinforcing the message for each Salem brand and driving traffic back to Salem’s offerings, but when it came to driving revenue through advertising, they were less than ideal. For many publishers, expectations and returns for email advertising are low compared to other digital advertising because it has to be budgeted, sold and managed separately.
In March 2016, PostUp, Salem’s email service provider, suggested they look into PowerInbox to place ads in their newsletters that went unsold by the direct sales team. At the time, the network was working with an email advertising service provider to manage newsletter ads, but it wasn’t seeing the returns it hoped for, spending more to get those returns, and working harder to manage the process than seemed necessary. Further, it had to upload campaigns separately for email, with separate budget, separate targeting and separate tracking. There was no connection whatsoever with campaigns running on the websites.
The Salem team didn’t know it at the time, but PowerInbox was working on the solution to these particular problems. In November of 2016, PowerInbox brought Salem’s team the plans for AdServer for Email, by which publishers could access ad space from opt-in email newsletters through Google DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) or other ad server platforms, making email-based ads as easy to manage and track as any online ad. The Salem team immediately saw the value.
“We saw that we could leverage the demand we were already sourcing for the web though email,” said Steve Werkmeister, Director of Marketing for Salem Web Network. “Targeting would be just like on the web, which allows us to capture a higher yield than we had ever seen in email. PowerInbox was talking about tearing down the walls between online and email ads, which had us very enthused.”
This problem wasn’t unique to Salem Web Network. While ad server platforms such as Google DFP can accurately measure online ad views, ads within emails have been a blind spot for publishers, advertisers and networks alike—typically sold on a flat-rate basis, based simply on subscriber volume and trafficked using a separate, stand-alone system with no knowledge of the rest of the campaign budget.
Ad Server for Email launched at the end of 2016 and Salem Web was one of the first customers to sign on, first to a pilot, then moving 5,000 email newsletters on to the new system. Now the network sells ads in emails just as it would for the web, and PowerInbox fills any inventory that isn’t sold directly at a higher yield thanks to improved targeting.
“The overall price performance is remarkable compared to anything else we’ve seen. Our fill rate is higher, and we’re getting a higher yield on those ads. We’re also getting more advertisers into our newsletters because those ads are managed alongside our web inventory with the same transparency,” said Werkmeister. “We never have to manually set up or track an email campaign again.”
“We are the only company with an email product that works with your existing ad servers for websites like DFP, and that has enormous benefits when it comes to extending your demand into the growing under-utilized impressions inside your emails,” said Jeff Kupietzky, CEO of PowerInbox. “The response from customers has matched our own enthusiasm for this product, and we look forward to building this into a service every publisher will use to leverage their existing direct sales efforts into email.”
“It’s simply a better approach to email advertising and remarkably simple for all the power it gives us, but it isn’t just the product. It’s also the service team at PowerInbox,” said Werkmeister. “They came on site to get us up and running, and didn’t stop until we had an email ad server that was a flawless part of our advertising operation.”
AdServer for Email leverages the same systems and processes that clients like Salem Web Network use today. Publishers automatically interact with their own ad server platform—such as DFP, along with a multitude of leading platforms, through pre-built integrations— ensuring a consistent end-user experience on web properties and emails. It provides detailed campaign parameter tracking through the same processes publishers already have in place in their Ad Operations teams. Alternatively, they may choose to use PowerInbox’s newly-developed ad server, purpose-built for email.
Since they started working together on AdServer for Email in January, the PowerInbox/Salem Web Network relationship has grown beyond the simple exchange of software and ad traffic. “Our advertisers consider us a partner, and PowerInbox has similarly become a trusted partner to us,” said Werkmeister. “The team there has given us great advice on what ad sizes and types work best in different kids of newsletters, furthering our increases in sales volume and yield.”
AdServer for Email leverages PowerInbox’s RevenueStripe technology, already in use by dozens of leading online publishers, including ABC, CNN, Hearst, Tribune and Bonnier, to insert relevant, dynamic content into emails. RevenueStripe inserts hyper-targeted, live-on-the-open dynamic content from more than 175 categories—ensuring up-to-date, fresh, relevant advertisements—into each email.
As a result of this partnership, Salem Web sees more revenue with fewer headaches and less attention demanded for each campaign, subscribers see ads that are more appropriate for them and more variety in their content, and advertisers get more transparency in who was reached with simplified billing across Salem Web Network properties.