How The Arena Group Boosted Engagement and Revenue with EX.CO's Video Platform

June 06, 2024 - by
The Arena Group and EX․CO Partnership

The Arena Group is an online content powerhouse, home to some of the most recognizable names in digital publishing, including Men's Journal, TheStreet, Parade, and many more. Their team of award-winning journalists, storytellers, and content creators have never struggled to attract readers to their sites, but in recent years, The Arena Group began to notice a challenge.

On the one hand, it was increasingly clear that their audiences were hungry for video content. Many of their in-house videos were going viral, and in general, these videos were keeping readers on-site for longer and generating more pageviews. On the other hand, even with their ample resources, The Arena Group was struggling to keep up with demand. Creating original videos takes time and money, and those two things tend to be in short supply in the fast-moving world of digital media.

The result was that 95% of their pages were still video-less. Which meant that the vast, vast majority of their pages lacked the kinds of immersive content that has been demonstrated to enhance engagement across a wide variety of metrics. Creating or licensing enough video content to optimize every single one of these pages would have been financially prohibitive—which meant The Arena Group needed another solution. 

And in EX.CO, they found one.

EX.CO's online video platform: higher dwell time, higher revenue

The big social platforms already know the importance of dwell time—i.e., the amount of time a user spends on-site. They also know how effective video can be for increasing it—for evidence of this, look no further than the increasing centrality of Reels to Instagram's interface. EX.CO's online video platform allows publishers to take advantage of the same tool kit. It grants new life to publisher content—transforming articles into the kinds of relevant and compelling videos that increase engagement, time-on-site, and recirculation. 

The Arena Group's partnership with EX.CO started with a few of their best-known properties, including Men's Journal and Parade. Previously, for these sites, video had been an occasional value-add—something that was nice to have but ultimately limited by the size of The Arena Group's video archive. The pages that were video-optimized inevitably received more engagement, but these pages represented a minority of overall content.

On this front, EX.CO's video interventions were transformational. Overnight, video became central to how The Arena Group's audiences interacted with their content. Every page was suddenly optimized for increased engagement with ultra-relevant video content automatically generated from some of The Arena Group's most popular posts.

Crucially, this content was circulated contextually. The videos generated by EX.CO were matched with precisely the right articles to create an enhanced, irresistible experience for The Arena Group's audiences, who were subsequently led to additional Arena Group content—video- and text-based. This created the kind of "rabbit hole" effect that so many publishers strive for, with users digging deeper and deeper into site content via automatically-generated recommendations.

Why dwell time matters for monetization

It is hard to overstate the significance that increased dwell time has for revenue. Put simply: the more time a user spends on-site, the more opportunities there are for them to encounter programmatic ads. And through their partnership with EX.CO, The Arena Group took their video monetization efforts to a whole new level.

It is undeniable that programmatic video advertising is more lucrative than more traditional forms of programmatic advertising. Advertisers know that users are more engaged when they're watching a video, as opposed to quickly scrolling past a static ad sandwiched between blocks of texts. The benefit of EX.CO as a video monetization platform is that it allows publishers to add their own demand to the platform, and to reap the revenue benefits accordingly. 

And unlike in other programmatic ad buying contexts, EX.CO partners are able to optimize for publisher revenue over other sources using EX.CO's machine-learning-based yield engine. In the case of The Arena Group, this change in programmatic media buying dynamics allowed the company to earn even higher RPMs.

But that was just the beginning. Following those successful early experiments, The Arena Group brought Google's AdX into EX.CO's platform. This allowed The Arena Group to bring its own ad marketplace—and its own programmatic guaranteed deals—into their video monetization efforts, which they had struggled to do before.

What it all meant for The Arena Group

The results here speak for themselves. In just a six-month period, The Arena Group increased user dwell time on their network of sites by 27%—leading to 115% higher gross RPMs. All of this was helped along by EX.CO's transparent demand management process, as well as its careful decisioning around which demand source to deliver an impression to. The Arena Group was impressed—so much so that they made the strategic decision to integrate our video platform into hundreds of more pages across their vast network of websites.

This transparency around programmatic yields is a key component of what distinguishes EX.CO from other programmatic advertising platforms. It's the best of both worlds: publishers manage their demand sources alongside ours, which allows them to optimize their yields with full control.

In a digital media landscape that has never been more competitive, The Arena Group has set a benchmark for the industry, showing them how to keep audiences highly engaged with premium video content. EX.CO is proud to have played an integral role in that strategy, which is poised to pay dividends throughout 2024 and beyond.

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