If your revenue generated through traffic monetization has decreased during the last few years, then you are probably using the same basic traffic monetization solutions that you were using back when you first started working on the ‘net. While there is still profit to be made from properly placed in-text ads, attention-grabbing banners, and relevant text ads, these solutions are often limited in their flexibility and degrees of relevance to your site’s content. Additionally, consumer distrust in traditional advertising, including banner ads, is growing. Therefore, it might be time to throw in a new traffic monetization method into the mix.
Content locking, a relatively new traffic monetization method, revolves around the concept of creating quality content. Adaptable to almost any type of content, and requiring no spend, content locking has been a successful revenue generator for site owners for years. Will content locking work for your site’s needs? Let’s find out!
What is Content Locking?
Like most internet marketing terms, content locking is a term that many claim to know, but few actually understand. Basically, content locking involves denying access to a particular piece of content until a visitor completes a required action. Most often, this action involves completing a low cost, or free, advertiser sponsored offer. Once a visitor completes the required action, the content “unlocks” and becomes available to the visitor. The process of protecting access to content, or “locking” content, is made possible through a mechanism called a gateway. Essentially just a snippet of code, gateways deploy when a visitor clicks on a page with protected content or on a link to protected content. Gateways also contain the advertiser sponsored offers that must be completed in order to unlock the desired content.
A quick example to illustrate the content locking process: A visitor looking to hear the latest single from a heavy metal band hits their site and finds a link to download their single. Once the visitor clicks on the link, an overlay appears with a gateway in the center of the page. The visitor completes an offer from the gateway and then the single begins to download.
Monetizing Your Traffic through Content Locking
Monetizing your traffic through content locking is a similar process to monetizing through traditional traffic monetization methods, though there are a few key differences. These differences can best be illustrated in the following themes:
The content that you lock via content locking can almost be anything digital, including songs, blog posts, articles, apps, videos, images, templates, white papers, passwords, snippets of code, webinars, and eBooks. However, unlike traditional methods, the content that you want to lock has to be a “filling entrée” for your visitors, and not simply an “appetizer.” If you are requiring your visitors to complete an offer to access content, that content needs to be exclusive to your site or industry, or hold some level of perceived value to your visitors. A good indicator of quality content for locking is to determine if a visitor would be willing to pay for it. If you own a social media strategy site, for example, adding a gateway to one of your regular blog posts probably won’t bring in the “big bucks.” On the other hand, limiting access via a gateway to an exclusive series of social media tip videos may be a good revenue generator.
To be successful in content locking, you have to choose your niches wisely. A banner ad that doesn’t even closely relate to your site’s niche can still convert. Such is not the case with content locking. You could have content that would even impress John Rampton, but if your niche is dying, over-saturated, or non-existent, the desire for new or existing visitors to want to unlock it may be null. Conversely, an in demand niche can carry visitors from the SERP’s right through your gateways. For example, let’s say that you own a coupon site. Exclusive coupon codes typically work well with content locking, as visitors are willing to go through an extra step to get a product that they have been searching for. However, if you are going after a low volume niche like JNCO Jeans, even an exclusive coupon may not generate any revenue (btw, you know you had a pair!).
Unlike traditional traffic monetization methods, your regular site visitors may not be used to seeing gateways on your sites. Therefore, to maintain a great user experience, it’s critical that you carefully plan your gateway implementation strategy. Gateways can be highly customizable, allowing you to add your own background images, change background border and text colors, and even adjust fonts. These customization options allow you to match the overall look of your site and can help your gateways blend in with your overall site appearance. You can also often change the gateway’s instructional text, deployment time, placement, and many other options to make your visitors more comfortable.
The speed of gateway implementation, however, is extremely crucial to your bottom line. Say you own a music video site. If you decide to suddenly lock all of your videos, your visitors may never come back. Therefore, it’s important to implement your gateways slowly, observing visitor usage, bounce rates, and revenue generation. Slowly introducing gateways to your visitors also gives you time to split test gateways on different types of content, offers, and by gateway appearance.
The main advantage of content locking over traditional traffic monetization methods is its flexibility. If you can create content, you can lock it. In terms of revenue generation, if your content is of value to your visitors, they won’t mind taking the time to unlock it. In the end, however, it’s up to your niche selection, content creating ability, and traffic sources on whether content locking is a fit for your monetization mix.