Mobile is an ever-increasingly important platform in digital publishing as consumers spend more time on their devices. In fact, three-quarter of publishers (75%) stated they will increase their mobile investment in the next 12 months, reported AOL’s 2016 Publisher Outlook Report, which surveyed 300 publishers in the U.S.
Further, nearly half of the publishers plan on increasing their mobile investment up to 25% more and 10% plan on increasing their investment from 50-100% more in the next 12 months. Publishers also anticipate video ad sales to be the top revenue performer of the year.
Ad blockers, quality creative and quality experiences are top challenges publishers face today, while better audience metrics, interactive and engaging ad units, mobile-first video and faster ad loads offer big opportunities.
Publishers rank their biggest mobile opportunities as:
- Better audience metrics – 43%
- Interactive, engaging ad units – 43%
- Mobile-first video (creative and formatting) – 42%
- Faster ad loads – 42%
- More mobile web-based content – 42%
- Cross-screen tracking and measurement – 40%
- Customized / personalized creative – 39%
- More app offerings – 38%
- Mobile commerce – 38%
- Gamification of content – 27%
And rank their primary challenges as:
- Ad blockers – 49%
- Quality of consumer experience – 44%
- Quality of content/creative – 42%
- App installations – 38%
- Measurement deficits – 31%
- Platform and service costs – 30%
- Off platform monetization – 30%
- Off network traffic / audience – 27%
- Lagging advertising spend – 27%
- Inadequate revenue/ROI – 24%
Distribution platforms for content have also emerged this year. Companies like Facebook, Apple, Twitter and Snapchat are all trying to attract readers to keep using their platforms while consuming publisher’s content. Over 90% of publishers believe distributed media has had a positive effect; 53% report it’s “extremely positive.” By and large, publishers also said that syndication is vital with approximately 25-50% of their traffic coming via syndication referrals.
More and more publishers are increasingly assessing new and alternative monetization strategies beyond advertising. For now, more than 75% of publishers pursue subscription and ad supported business models. Of those focused on subscriptions, over 75% expect to grow their subscription choices in the next 12 months.
While publishers are still very dependent on advertising revenue, the way of doing business has changed. Seven in 10 publishers (71%) sell inventory via programmatic with many using a private marketplace. Private marketplaces allow publishers to offer their own inventory to buyers in a more transparent and controlled environment. More than half of publishers (56%) depend on at least one private marketplace and 28% use multiple PMPs.
Publishers continue to evolve with the times, building new technologies, developing new revenue sources and even creating internal agencies to develop new creative. Publishers must continue to re-think how people are consuming content, how to deliver it, how it lives across platform and how to monetize it beyond advertising dollars.