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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Defining the publisher of the future

February 11, 2020 | By Dave Constantino, Senior Director of Client Development – Oracle Data Cloud @OracleDataCloud

Since the dawn of the printing press, publishers have been navigating the forces of technology. From the advent of newspapers and magazines in the 17th century to the more recent emergence of electronic media like radio, television, the internet, and mobile devices, content creators have needed to continuously adjust their business models to adapt to new technologies, channels, and consumer behavior. 

Today, the pace of that change is accelerating. This year, for the first time in history, digital advertising is set to surpass all offline advertising mediums combined. Analysts estimate that advertisers will spend almost $130 billion on digital media in 2019 in the U.S. alone.

Yet even as digital dominates and content creators are leveraging new and exciting media for storytelling, publishers are looking toward the future and preparing themselves for the next set of opportunities and challenges on the horizon. To succeed in the hyper-speed world of the modern digital economy, publishers should focus on three large issues that will help determine their success or failure.

1. Bring the focus back to media quality

The trailblazers of digital advertising have always been pushed and pulled by centrifugal forces, especially those on the sell-side. As hundreds of millions of people first moved online, advertisers raced to get their messages in front of those digital audiences. And an immediate income stream was born for anyone who could drive traffic or, more important, capture attention.

At the dawn of the programmatic era, increasing complexities came into play. And this may have pulled the pendulum too far toward scale and away from media quality. These days, consumer choice at an all-time high and publishers face increasing competition from walled gardens. So, it is vital for publishers of all sizes – from big cross-channel players to digital-only hubs – to regain that focus on media quality. 

Beyond the big three issues of brand safety, viewability, and fraud, publishers need to realign their thinking and their metrics to better match consumer behavior. For example, in the fight against non-human forms of traffic, questions such as “did a person ‘see’ our content?” sometimes override the more important question of “did a person actually ‘read or watch’ our content and for how long?” Let’s swing that pendulum back to consumer-focused media quality.

2. For publishers, media quality is the top job

Publishers must keep their focus on what truly matters: engaging their audience through compelling storytelling. This includes building an advertising experience on their properties that puts the user experience first. This must include integrity around validity, viewability, and brand safety.

When it comes to demanding higher quality ads and organic content on the web, publishers have a huge opportunity to move the needle. Publishers have the advantage of providing consumers and brands with a curated platform that offers a more  controlled experience, enabling them to tell their story and reach consumers in an impactful way that drives an emotional connection.

This level of command over content allows publishers to control the conversation with their advertisers, share peace of mind with their partners, and better demonstrate the value of their media and audiences. 

3. Valid, viewable, and safe is only a starting point

How can publishers tell if their efforts to build a better ad experience are successful? New and nuanced forms of measurement hold the key.

While consumers may never love all forms of advertising, we know from research that they  find certain types more tolerable. The job of providing better advertising that meets those can’t fall on publishers alone, of course. It will take buy-in from advertisers, agencies, and all industry players.

More important, when publishers themselves measure media quality only in terms of things like brand safety, viewability, and invalid traffic, they are missing out on other relevant signals. A publisher that is achieving a holistic view with their metrics is able to see if their content is connecting to a brand’s message or if it’s engaging an audience.

This holistic view comes from more sophisticated measurement, offers answers to questions such as:

  • Is there ad clutter?
  • Who are the returning users?
  • Which formats are in play? (i.e., infinite scroll vs. photo galleries vs. sticky player)
  • What is the site experience? (i.e., navigation or content discovery, which can be especially valuable for full-page branded content campaigns)

In short, valid, viewable, and safe is just a starting point. The publisher of the future will set a higher bar. Through a better understanding of performance, monitoring context, and applying more advanced ad quality metrics, the industry will be able to launch ads that resonate, are viewed and interacted with, and, ultimately, serve the interests of both advertiser and viewer. All because the entire ecosystem better understands what the audience wants.

The publisher of the future is now

More than ever, as attention spans continue to shrink in the modern digital landscape, publishers need to understand what truly influences attention, quality, and engagement. By focusing on these signals, publishers will not only delight their audience, but they have the power to make brand advertising more effective.

The publisher of the future looks forward with optimism and a strong conviction for storytelling. The publisher of the future recognizes they have the opportunity to deliver entertainment and experiences the world truly desires. It starts with helping marketers connect with their audiences sustainably and ethically, protecting an ecosystem that citizens rely on every day.

You are the publisher of the future. And the future is now.


About the author
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Dave Constantino is the Senior Director of Client Development at Oracle Data Cloud, where he is responsible for driving revenue across the full measurement solutions suite encompassed by Moat Analytics, Contextual Intelligence, Moat Outcomes and Moat Reach. He joined Oracle with the Moat acquisition in 2017, where he focused on scaling the sales team and revenue for the business with strategic publishers and platforms. Prior to Oracle, Dave has held various roles as a SaaS leader and in sales.

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