The media industry continues to consolidate. This week, New Media Investment Group and Gannett have announced plans to merge, which will result in the formation of the largest newspaper publishing company in the US. If the deal goes through, the conglomerate will own almost one sixth of daily newspapers. However, the reality is that the vast majority of local publishers are already owned by just a handful of companies.
Needless to say, advertising is a central piece of this continued consolidation of local news media. In the last decade, the publishing industry has been grappling with declining print revenues and insufficient digital growth. All the while, they face the growing demands from consumers demanding privacy restrictions and emerging regulations like GDPR, CCPA, and others that will surface in the next few years.
Navigating the challenges that publishers face today is incredibly complex. And, for better or worse, most advertisers spend the majority of their budgets on the walled gardens of search and social. Social platforms keep users off of news sites and revenue out of publishers’ hands.
As the industry searches for new ways of cutting costs and diversifying revenue streams to stay afloat and support journalism, it’s time to put control back into publishers’ hands directly. Publishers need to focus on creating advertiser-centric business models and adopt technology that will create outcome-based solutions.
When it comes to technology, it’s more important than ever before that publishers possess the strategies, tools, and technology that allows them to maximize ad inventory and empower direct sales.
Keep it contextual
Advertisers need to target the right consumers. And publishers must be able to address these needs for direct and programmatic sales in the face of user privacy headwinds. As the proverbial cookie crumbles, publishers need to equip themselves with contextual targeting tools that will aid in compliance with user targeting restrictions emerging from regulation (such as GDPR and CCPA) and web browser limitations (cookie-less environments). To do so, they should leverage a holistic data management platform (DMP) that can integrate and combine first-, second- and third-party data with contextual segments derived from semantic analysis (where editorial publishes are well-positioned).
Let’s get creative
Targeting not only applies to audiences, it also serving the right creative depending on the consumer profile and the content environment. Mobile is the new normal for consumption. So, advertisers need to be nimble with existing assets and make adjustments that capture user attention on the small screen. One way to do this is by tapping into dynamic creative optimization (DCO), which harnesses the power of AI and interactivity. Again, taking context into consideration, DCO technology can help advertisers assemble and optimize ads that might work in one scenario over another, in real-time. That said, there will always be a human element needed to make great creative work and finding self-serve platforms that are accessible to creative talent is paramount to truly optimizing through the funnel.
The third piece of the puzzle is to ensure that campaigns drive outcomes for the advertisers. To do this, publishers need to move closer to advertiser KPIs rather than blindly delivering impressions. Publishers now have the opportunity to use artificial intelligence (AI) technology to predict the likelihood of impressions converting into specific KPIs. Ultimately, this will enable them to sell based on new performance models including viewable CPM (vCPM) and Cost-per-Completed View (CPCV). Prediction AI powers the most efficient use of publisher inventory and shifts power from buy-side platforms to publishers, arming them with the tools to further differentiate from the Duopoly.
There is a desire by consumers to consume real news in quality environments. In fact, over 75% of consumers seek out news sources they trust. And research consistently shows that quality contexts deliver better results for advertisers. It is clear that having a robust publishing ecosystem is not only good for consumers, but also for brands. Premium inventory provides a perfect medium for brands advertising as it is inherently brand safe. It also offers a lean-in experience in which the consumer is engaging with content, unlike social media.
In order for publishers to survive and thrive today, it is important that they work with partners that can give them a robust toolkit to monetize their inventory in the most efficient way. We must also focus on outcomes, creative, and contextual clues to help deliver the right message to the right reader at the right time.