Case Study

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Publisher Growth

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FourM enables NAIGAI Publishing Co., Ltd. to double page ad unit price

Utilization of AnyManager for all-round growth support, achieving a 16% increase in session unit price within one month

NAIGAI Publishing Co., Ltd. (NAIGAI) is a leading publisher in lifestyle verticals such as automotive and fishing, boasting one of the highest magazine circulation numbers and website page views (PVs) within Japan. In the past, NAIGAI leveraged on various advertising companies for their web monetization efforts, but faced challenges with the complexity of management efforts and pleateauing revenue. To address this, NAIGAI consolidated its advertising operations under AnyMind Group’s publisher trading desk, FourM. FourM leveraged on AnyManager for comprehensive media growth support, resulting in significantly reduced manual hours to manage programmatic advertising efforts, and achieving a substantial increase in RPM and PV numbers. We look at the reasons behind choosing FourM as the trading desk, and their approach toward media growth beyond ad space management.

  • Revenue from programmatic advertising had reached a plateau.
  • Insufficient internal resources prevented the implementation of new strategies utilizing tools like GA4 or BigQuery.
  • Strategies implemented
    • Adoption of AnyManager.
    • Implementation of comprehensive media growth support at the site level, not just on an ad slot basis.
    • Revisiting site design based on user behavior analysis.
  • Results
    • Significant reduction in management efforts for programmatic advertising.
    • RPM increased by over 2 times.
    • Approximately doubled PV numbers.

    Interviewee profile

    Kiyomi Kasahara

    Specialized department chief web director, Young Machine editorial department

    After working in lifestyle magazine publishing, business consulting, and founding a startup, joined NAIGAI in 2016. Engaged in launching and operating web media sites such as ‘Young Machine,’ and supporting the shift from print magazines to web.

    Through comprehensive support for media growth, Young Machine achieved a 2X PV unit price

    Firstly, please tell us about your first interaction with FourM.

    It all began several years ago, when FourM reached out to offer their support. Back when our site wasn’t as large as it is now, I managed all the advertising aspects by myself. Initially, we primarily used Google AdSense for ad placements, but we received inquiries from various ad vendors, resulting in a continued increase in ad slots for each vendor.

    At one point, I was dealing with about 10 ad vendors, assigning specific ad slots to each.

    I see! So, it wasn’t a case of entrusting total support to the entire site, but rather engaging in transactions within specific ad slots.

    Exactly. That’s why when your company approached us, I mentioned that we could provide some of the ad slots. However, my allocation was declined because I was told that leveraging FourM’s strengths wasn’t feasible with just a few ad slots. It was unusual because while other salespeople from different companies were eager to secure even a single ad slot for immediate results, I found it surprising.

    At that time, there were many similar companies trying to pitch, but the interactions with FourM stood out significantly.

    Even though we continued dealing with various ad vendors afterward, it remained limited to exchanges solely at the level of ad slots. Whenever there was a possibility of something new, it merely involved expanding ad slots. As our site’s space was limited and there was no room for expansion, our revenue stagnated.

    Seems like it was limited to strategies like increasing ad slots or changing connected entities.

    Looking back, I realize it was a stagnation of strategies, but at that time, I thought that was the extent any company could offer.

    I’m a loyal person, so I felt a sense of obligation to the first company that approached us and entrusted them with most of the ad slots, although there wasn’t any particularly firm reason to rely on that specific company.

    That was when FourM came in?

    Exactly. We had a discussion again with FourM regarding areas of support. The team proposed not just increasing the unit price of assigned ad slots but maximizing ad revenue whilst retaining a high-quality user experience, exploring monetization strategies beyond ad networks, and supporting everything necessary for media growth, from user acquisition to retention.

    As managing each ad slot and interacting with various ad vendors became increasingly time-consuming, I thought it might be best to leave it to the experts. We decided to conduct an A/B test for PV unit prices between the support page provided by FourM and the current page to ascertain the situation.

    How did the A/B test go, and what were the results?

    The A/B test was conducted specifically to verify ad network revenue. We used our CMS to present FourM’s ad units and conventional ad units to users at the same ratio and compared the PV unit prices.

    FourM had mentioned beforehand that optimization would take about three months, but we began to see results after around one month.

    I had thought that if there was around a 1.5x difference from the previous setup, we’d consider making the switch. However, in the end, FourM’s PV unit price was over 2 times higher than the previous setup, so we decided to switch to FourM.

    Session numbers increased by 116% in one month thanks to site design support!

    Were there any particular features within AnyManager that proved to be exceptionally effective?

    We found the Web Push Notification feature to be particularly effective. Previously, when we wanted to disseminate information, we could only reach our followers through social media.
    However, using the Web Push Notification feature allowed us to approach individuals who weren’t social media followers, which we found to be very beneficial.

    Any other support from FourM that left a lasting impression?

    The support regarding Google Analytics 4 (GA4) was incredibly helpful. At that time, there was a need to transition from Universal Analytics (UA) to GA4, which was quite daunting in terms of workload. Therefore, when FourM proposed their support, it facilitated a smooth transition for us.

    Additionally, we’ve also engaged FourM for consulting on site design based on user behavior analysis. With a 16% increase in session unit price within one month of the initiative, we’re truly grateful for FourM’s support and expertise.

    I’ve heard that there are efforts underway to improve bounce rates. Can you tell me more about that?

    We are currently in the midst of these efforts and are very optimistic about the outcomes. Improving bounce rates is an ongoing focus for us, and what’s particularly commendable about FourM is their approach—progressing while validating hypotheses based on data. This allows us to proceed with strategies in a way that instills confidence and understanding.

    In fact, compared to before the implementation of these strategies, we’ve already seen a significant increase in page views per session and approximately doubled the PV numbers. Additionally, the utilization of BigQuery, the data warehousing and analytics service provided by the Google Cloud Platform, has been immensely helpful. Without our collaboration with FourM, we wouldn’t have been able to tackle this aspect.

    Overall, when receiving proposals from FourM, what stands out is their ability to suggest new strategies based on our current situation. This approach makes decision-making much easier compared to dealing with other companies.

    FourM isn’t just a publisher trading desk; they’re a business partner focused on media growth.

    Could you share your future prospects and the areas you’re expecting from FourM in the future?

    Recently, relying solely on ad networks for monetization seems to have plateaued across the industry, making further expansion challenging. Consequently, there’s a need for new strategies, and we believe it’s crucial to proactively create new touchpoints as a media outlet.

    With FourM, the comprehensive support for media growth suggests that if profitability decreases in network advertising, there are other areas they can foster for growth. Regarding the monetization aspect, relying on FourM brings a sense of reassurance.

    For FourM, ad network seems like a blue ocean

    From FourM’s perspective, it might actually seem like a blue ocean opportunity. However, to make it a blue ocean in reality, publishers often lack proficiency in certain IT aspects. They might need assistance and guidance every step of the way. That’s why many other ad vendors tend to just place their ads and be done with it. But from our standpoint as publishers, it becomes crucial whether they are willing to invest the time to guide us through these IT aspects, even if it means investing effort in teaching us, step by step.

    It seems like you have high expectations of FourM.

    Certainly, we have high expectations too. There have already been achievements, and I believe FourM will continue to deliver results in the future. For me, this positions FourM not just as a mere advertising partner but a tier above—a business partner.

    Furthermore, I’m impressed by your internal resource management. Initially, when there was mention that FourM wasn’t equipped to handle SEO strategies, I was surprised to receive news a few months later that an SEO team had been established. The speed at which this happened is remarkable. The fact that your organization actively addresses our needs and provides support is truly commendable.

    Given this background, beyond discussions about advertising, whenever there are issues that are challenging for our company to solve or tend to have lower priority due to high workload, I tend to consult FourM. I’m relying on the hope that even if you might not have an immediate solution, perhaps by asking, we might find a way. I hope FourM can serve as a guide for new business initiatives.

    Thank you very much!

    About media operated by NAIGAI (内外出版社)

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