Traffic, Revenue and Costs revealed of Publishers using Web Stories for Marketing

Dec 9, 2022 | , read

Traffic-Revenue-and-Costs r-Publishers-Web-Stories-for-Marketing

When Google launched Google “Stories” in beta form back in 2018, the company had no idea how useful it would become. As time has gone on, publishers have begun using web stories as a permanent method of storytelling to attract new audiences and retain existing. The results have established that web stories are here to stay.

Forrester Consulting conducted an in depth study to quantify benefits like website traffic, advertising revenue and costs across companies that deployed Web Stories as a marketing tool. For the purpose of this study, Forrester created a composite organization out of the 4 publishers they interviewed and 90 publishers they surveyed who invested in Web Stories. The organizations in this report are located in the United States, Brazil and India.

“Last year was really challenging for us during the [COVID-19] pandemic. A lot of people realized that diversifying revenue and alternative ways of making money are more important than ever. Exploring this with Google Web Stories makes a ton of sense.”
Senior director of partnerships, publisher

Why publishers and marketers found Web Stories an attractive marketing investment

Forrester’s study found that the need to invest in Web Stories for content creation and dissemination came from limitations in existing platforms. The popular challenges publishers faced were as follows:

  • Audiences on mobile: With increasing traffic views only through mobile, publishers felt the need to focus more on mobile optimized content formats.
  • Limited Content Types: Publishers wanted to increase engagement for their content and wanted to use more visually appealing formats.
  • Content Restrictions: When sharing content across other platforms publishers had to follow their rules and create content for each differently. All that effort for a story and it would expire in 24 hours.
  • Branding Inconsistency: In following different content rules for each external platform, publishers found their branding taking a hit.
  • Revenue Stream Stagnation: As traditional channels of generating revenue through content creation went through a depression, brands needed to find new ways to monetize content.

What are the quantifiable economic benefits of using Web Stories as a marketing tool?

“A single, popular Web Story could drive a million page views to their website” said, one of the publishers interviewed in the study.

10.7% Increase in Website Traffic with Web Stories

The report reveals publishers that invested in web stories are publishing an average of 60 web stories per week. 53% of survey respondents witnessed website traffic increasing with Web Stories. This segment also indicated that a web story in comparison with a text story brought in a 10.7% increase in traffic.

13.1% Increase in Story Views and Impressions with Web Stories

61% of survey respondents expressed an increase in page views and impressions with web stories. In comparison with a text story, this segment indicated that Web Stories generated 13.1% more page views and impressions.

According to the Forrester report, if a publisher was generating 15500 monthly impressions per text article, the same article as a web story would generate 17531 monthly impressions. Annually, with the assumption of 120 stories per month, the publisher is enjoying 2,103,660 monthly impressions. WIth an average Revenue per thousand impressions at $2 for display advertising, web stories are contributing a revenue of $50,488 (with Risk Adjustment at 20%, it would be $40,390 ) just in Year 1.

“The study reveals Publishers are generating $160 – $400 of advertising revenue per month per Web Story.”

51% percent saw an increase in advertising revenues

Publishers that saw success with revenue through web stories shared their best practices in this study. They sold ads both directly and programmatically to advertisers. Revenue was found to be much higher with direct ads. Additionally, publishers usually placed advertisements around the 7th slide in a web story.

Publishers confirmed generating $160-$400 of ad revenue per web story per month, with an incremental increase of $182 per web story per month.

With 120 web stories published per month, presuming a publisher activated their ads only half way through Year 1, after risk adjustment, they are already generating ad revenues of $92,160.

Advertising Revenue
Ref. Metric Calculation Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
B1 Web Stories published (per month) A4 120 160 200
B2 Advertising revenue per story per month Interviews and survey data $160 $160 $160
B3 Advertising revenue per month with Web Stories B1*B2 $19,200 $25,600 $32,000
B4 Implied RPM B2/(A3/1,000) $9.13 $9.13 $9.13
B5 Advertising revenue with Web Stories B3*12 months $230,400 $307,200 $384,000
B6 Phased adoption of Web Stories advertising Interviews and survey data 50% 70% 80%
Bt Advertising revenue IB5*B6 $115,200 $215,040 $307,200
Risk adjustment ↓20%
Three-year total: $509,952 Three-year present value: $410,600

“Respondents saw an average $75 increase Month on Month with affiliate link advertising”

40% saw an increase in affiliate link revenue with Web Stories

Affiliate link revenue is a new avenue still being tested by many marketers. Current findings from the report shows a promising start. Each web story is generating an affiliate link revenue of $60 per Web Story per month. 40% of affiliate link advertising users are witnessing a revenue increase of $75 per Web Story per month.

Affiliate Link Revenue
Ref. Metric Calculation Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
C1 Web Stories published (per month) A4 120 160 200
C2 Affiliate link revenue per story per month Interviews and survey data $60 $60 $60
C3 Affiliate link revenue per month with Web Stories C1*C2 $7,200 $9,600 $12,000
C4 Affiliate link revenue with Web Stories C3*12 months $86,400 $115,200 $144,000
C5 Phased adoption of Web Story affiliate links Interviews and survey data 10% 25% 40%
Ct Affiliate link revenue C4*C5 $8,640 $28,800 $57,600
Risk adjustment ↓20%
Ctr Affiliate link revenue (risk-adjusted) $6,912 $23,040 $46,080
Three-year total: $76,032 Three-year present value: $59,946

With the assumption of only 10% of the 120 Web Stories a year using Affiliate Link Advertising as a revenue generation tool and $60 average revenue generation per web story, after risk adjustment, the Forrester report indicates Year 1 revenue at $6912

What are unquantifiable benefits of Web Stories to brands?

“With Google Web Stories, we own the eyeballs.” said a CEO of a publishing company

90% of survey respondents reported that Web Stories increased customer engagement.

Publishers have expressed their contentment with additional qualitative benefits that Web Stories have brought about as well. These benefits speak to the original challenges that marketers were facing with tools used before Web Stories.

1. Boosted engagement: Viewers enjoyed swiping through web stories more than reading the same story as a text, leading to higher engagement rate and time spent on the content. Average estimates include,

  1. 16.1% Increase in time spent on a story
  2. 13.5% Increase in story completion rate
  3. 17.2% Increase in CTR for CTA buttons
  4. 8.9 seconds Increase in view time

2. More than a website: Publishers admitted that Web Stories have allowed them to break out from just being a content publishing website. Adding stories as a channel of publishing and distribution allows them to expand their brand offerings, along with revenue creation.

“Web Stories live forever.”

3. Evergreen Content: Publishers are enjoying the ownership that Google Web Stories provide. “We don’t want to rely on third-party platforms. With Google Web Stories, we own the eyeballs. It’s very attractive from a branding perspective to control where the traffic and viewer is counted.” said SVP, content distribution and partnerships of a publishing house. Content that is created on stories is available till the moment the brand doesn’t bring it down. This means content is available for discovery and rediscovery anytime.

What setup do you need to deploy Web Stories as a serious marketing tool?

Publishers share 3 core areas they invested time and effort in order to create an effective Web Stories execution strategy.

“An editor can make a Web Story in as short as an hour or at the longest, 3 hours.”

1. Creative and Editorial Team: Companies hired dedicated web story editorial teams that script, design and create web stories. With the advent of online web story creator softwares, like MakeStories, teams with prior elementary skills in scripting and design are able to grasp the creation and distribution process with just 5 hours of training.

Some companies admitted that there was a learning curve to figure out what their audiences wanted. They started by creating web stories with 25-30 slides and finally found that 6-12 slides are a sweet spot.This has reduced the time investment in creation and optimized efficiency for their teams.

“Not all of the interviewed companies incurred upfront costs related to Web Stories”

2. Tools and Equipment: Some organizations used existing content and equipment to create content for their web stories, while others purchased equipment or hardware such as cameras or subscriptions to web story creation tools, the average cost of which was $3105. Online web story builders like MakeStories are still free for enterprises of any size till December 2022. It has built in media libraries that do not require marketers to invest any further in images or videos.

“81% survey respondents said it took just 34.7 hours on an average for initial implementation.”

3. CMS Integration: Most companies integrate web stories into their web CMS to have better control and ownership of their content. Tools like MakeStories have a ready WordPress Plug In, allowing brands to create stories inside WordPress.

“Brands that use Web Stories see a 36% Return on Investment”
says the Forrester Report

The Forrester report used the Total Economic Impact methodology to help companies make informed decisions. The risk-adjusted Return on Investment is calculated on the project’s expected return in percentage terms by dividing net benefits (benefits less costs) by costs. The payback period is calculated at 22 months. Benefits include the quantitative factors such as website traffic and ad revenue, costs included team hires and tools.

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