Let’s begin this 2023 preview post by addressing the elephant in the room: December 2022 was soft, or underwhelming, compared to previous years. Moreover, January 2023 is down as well …
We get a lot of questions about Grow, so we thought we’d put all our answers in one place, starting with the basics:
What is Grow?
Simply put, Grow is Mediavine’s user engagement suite that helps independent publishers build authenticated traffic and first-party data.
We created Grow (formerly known as Grow.me) and continue to expand and improve it with two primary goals in mind:
1. Benefiting publishers by obtaining direct consent from readers who have logged in to Grow to receive personalized, higher-performing and better-paying ads through the collection of first-party data. This goes hand-in-hand with:
2. Benefiting readers by enhancing websites with tools that provide better user experiences and encourage audiences to log in and engage with a site’s content through activities such as:
- Sharing and bookmarking posts.
- Subscribing to the publisher’s email newsletter.
- Gaining access to optionally gated content that’s exclusive to readers logged into Grow.
What is First-Party Data / Authenticated Traffic?
First-party data refers to data that publishers provide to advertisers themselves rather than data collected by a third party (e.g., through cookies).
Grow lets independent content creators collect first-party data by encouraging users to log in. Logged in users are known as authenticated traffic. This type of traffic earns the most ad revenue (even now, while third-party cookies are still in use).
Read more about first-party data.
Who Can Run Grow?
During the initial beta phase, Grow was only available to Mediavine Ad Management clients. The next testing phase is in progress and includes sites that are outside of the Mediavine network.
How Do I Start Using Grow?
Mediavine Publishers can enable Grow right in their Mediavine Dashboard with one toggle. Go to Grow from the main navigation, Enable Grow at the top of the page and then click the Save Settings button. There’s nothing to install.
After you enable the setting, Grow is automatically loaded through the Script Wrapper and all configuration can be done directly in the Mediavine Dashboard.
Do I Need to Run Grow?
Grow is completely optional for Mediavine publishers.
We’re taking a wide-ranging and multifaceted approach to the changing programmatic ecosystem due to the end of third-party cookies in Chrome, from adopting Privacy Sandbox features like FLoC, pioneering contextual and, of course, first-party data. You can also use Grow to collect your own first-party data with the Identity API, run other solutions that work with our API (such as our new integration with Slickstream) or do nothing involving Grow at all.
Why Should I Run Grow Now While Third-Party Cookies Are Still Around?
First of all, you will make more money today.
Third-party cookies are already a thing of the past in Safari on Mac and iOS devices, and authenticated traffic is already worth more. On Chrome, even with third-party cookies still around (for now), first-party data has always been considered more reliable, so you’ll see a revenue boost from it.
More importantly, building up an audience of registered users is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. The sooner you start, the more prepared you’ll be for the eventual end of third-party cookies in Chrome.
Large publications have been doing this for years; Grow is all about providing those same tools to publishers of all sizes.
Does Grow Require Grow Social?
Grow does NOT require our social sharing WordPress plugins, Grow Social or Grow Social Pro.
However, if you’re running one of them (the free or paid version), Grow offers some pretty cool integrations, including pulling your share counts!
Does Grow Require WordPress?
Nope! Much like Mediavine ads, Grow works on any CMS including Blogger, SquareSpace and more.
Any integrations with our WordPress plugins like Create, Trellis and Grow Social Pro are totally optional and designed only to enhance Grow.
How Much Does Grow Cost?
For Mediavine publishers, all current features of Grow are free.
Accessing some features found only in Grow Social Pro requires a paid license for Grow Social Pro and future Grow features may require similar costs as well. We are still working on pricing for non-Mediavine publishers.
Will Grow Slow Down My Site?
No. Come on. What company created this?
Seriously, it’s optimized with pagespeed and Core Web Vitals as the highest priority, just like everything we build at Mediavine.
Is There a Dashboard? How Do I Track Success?
Right now, you can track how users engage with Grow features via Google Analytics events and traffic sources. We’ve set up the following Google Analytics template to help.
(How to install the template: login to your Google Analytics accounts in another tab or window in this browser – you’ll need to do this on desktop – and then return here and click the link above. You’ll be prompted to add the Dashboard to a view in your GA account (see screenshot below). From there, you can access your Grow data under Customization > Dashboard.)
We will be adding a way to measure authenticated traffic through Grow.me and Identity API in the Mediavine Dashboard in the future, as well as a dedicated Grow Dashboard.
How Do I Encourage Readers to Sign In to Grow?
Great question! The key with any user engagement suite is that you can’t expect results if you “set it and forget it.” You need to encourage readers to engage actively and often.
This will become more important for Grow users as we continue introducing new features. For now, please keep providing feedback on our existing features and sharing ideas for what you’d like to see on the roadmap.
With that in mind, let’s talk about the tools Grow offers and how they can help you convince readers to sign in.
(Note: Please keep in mind this is only the beginning of Grow tools to entice your readers to engage. More features are coming soon! That’s part of the reason we released Grow in open beta so early: We need the help of our publishers to guide the roadmap. You know your readers and what will encourage them best.)
What Are the Current Grow Features?
Readers are able to save their favorite pages and easily access their bookmarks across all Grow sites, all from a single login. If a reader is logged out and tries to save a favorite, they are given a nudge to create an account or log in to store that bookmark.
This is one of the top drivers of sign-ups today.
Readers can share their favorite content right from the floating Grow icon — including direct to Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter — without slowing down your site with third-party scripts.
Plus, if you’re running Grow Social Pro, it can pull in all your social counts and combine them with favorite counts.
If you have enabled this feature, your readers will find a search button when clicking on the Grow widget. You can also email in to firstname.lastname@example.org to have us integrate directly with your native search bars and buttons. Search will encourage readers to log in to receive personalized search results.
Grow shows readers Recommended Content in the form of three widgets: in-line, header carousel and sidebar.
Opt in to one or more of the three and machine learning will help increase your traffic, as well as your session duration, by sizable margins.
Note that you can now exclude specific pages from appearing as Recommended Content, such as your About page, author bio pages and other administrative information pages.
Recommended Content will encourage readers to log in to receive their personalized recommendations.
For a numbers breakdown on the awesomeness of Recommended Content, check out this piece on how Grow is helping The Hollywood Gossip earn more now, even before third-party cookies disappear.
We highly recommend enabling at least the in-line widget. Results from blogger testing have been very positive!
Subscribe and the Spotlight Widget
Subscribe lets you build your mailing list while encouraging readers to sign up for Grow and consent to personalized ads.
You have two easy options for moving your subscribers from your Mediavine Dashboard to your ESP: (1) a downloadable file that’s ready to be imported into your subscriber list at your ESP; and, (2) our new integration with Zapier that automatically adds subscribers obtained through the widget to your ESP.
The Spotlight Subscribe widget is an in-content call to action with conversion rates nearly three times as high as traditional methods.
Subscribe and the Spotlight widget are available now via a toggle in the Mediavine Dashboard.
Save Recipe in Create / WPRM
With a simple toggle in the Mediavine Dashboard, you can add a “Save Recipe” button to your recipe and how-to cards, generating up to 200% more favorites and sign-ups. WP Recipe Maker users can now do the same directly in their template editor!
Like favorites, users are given a CTA (call to action) to sign-up after they save, leading to an impressive number of sign-ups.
Exclusive Content & Downloadables
You can now mark certain sections of your content as available only to readers who have signed up for Grow and your mailing list with our new Exclusive Content feature.
This includes downloadables! Publishers who offer digital cookbooks, printables, patterns or similar downloadables can require readers to subscribe to their newsletter and sign-up for Grow in order to access these materials. Imagine the increase for both your newsletter and your RPM!
The appeal is obvious: Reward your most loyal readers with exclusive content and more will consider signing up as a result.
What Tools are Coming Next?
The next round of tools we have planned are designed to be a little more aggressive in encouraging readers to sign up, with the goal of 5-10% authenticated traffic from Grow in 2021.
Grow Social and Create CTAs
Looking for other spots to encourage your audience to save your posts and log in to Grow? Don’t worry; we’re bringing additional calls to action and features to both Grow Social Pro and Create that help explain what Grow is and encourage readers to engage.
Follow / Notifications / Feed / Digests
In addition to subscribing to your newsletters, readers will be able to follow you on Grow as well. In the future, your followers can opt in to digest emails or follow you in their Grow feed.
Was all of that for free not appealing enough? How about if Grow starts to pay you?
Soon you’ll be able to opt in to new, exclusive Grow native ad placements that will blend right in with Grow features.
What Do I Do Now?
If you’re with us for Mediavine Ad Management, please consider
running to visiting your Dashboard and enabling Grow today.
It’s free. You’ll earn more ad revenue immediately. You’ll begin building authenticated traffic ahead of the end of third-party cookies in Chrome.
Plus, we need your feedback to guide the Grow roadmap.
If you’ve tried it and it doesn’t work for your site? Tell us why by emailing us at email@example.com. We want to make this product work well for as many content creators as we can, which can’t happen without your feedback.
If you’d rather go with a different solution for collecting first-party data, we still recommend starting now. Whether we like it or not, third-party cookies are crumbling in programmatic advertising. Our goal is to help content creators continue with their sustainable businesses in a privacy-centric, cookieless open web.
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