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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Media tech execs reveal their 2022 playbook

December 27, 2021 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN @michellemanafy

As we head into 2022, we find ourselves living in that mixed blessing: interesting times. Like every industry, we’re rocking in the wake of pandemic-era changes. From staffing challenges and workplace transformation to a consumer base whose priorities and expectations have profoundly shifted, media executives have plenty to manage. Needless to say, it is important that we enter the new year with an informed perspective to be ready for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

We reached out to some of our supporter partners here at DCN and asked about the biggest challenges and opportunities they see as we start off the new year. (DCN supporter partners are companies that do business with premium publishers and are aligned with principles of quality and trust.) Many of them echoed the big trends we’ve been watching. They also offered insights that should prove useful to anyone in the business of digital media.

Industry trends to watch in 2022

Innovation and diversification will accelerate  

As we move into 2022, one significant trend that started this year, and will continue, is finding the balance between subscriptions and advertising in order to maximize revenue.    

The next step for publishers in 2022 is looking at their business models holistically. Every business will need to find the right balance between subscriptions and advertising to maximize revenue.

—Matt Broad, Director of Optimization Services, Piano

Diversifying revenue streams is the mantra for 2022. This necessitates quick experiments, risk optimization, and data literacy; the precursor to which is an iterative mindset.

—Abhishek, Dadoo, CEO, Fewcents 

Recognizing the full potential of video as a primary format is one of the biggest opportunities we see for digital media companies as we head into the new year. This strategic move will not only allow publishers to reinforce their brands and diversify their revenues but build even more valuable and durable relationships with existing and new audiences.

—Andrew Rosenman, Global Product Marketing Lead CTV/Video, Smart AdServer

The biggest opportunity is to harvest advertising from segments of the market that are not just healthy, but those that are lurching forward in leaps-and-bounds.  The biggest threat is still running your Before Times playbook, assuming (wrongly) the market has rebounded in mostly same way that you remember.  The ad market is like a chameleon. Some parts do look the same shape, but the colors have changed quite significantly.    

—Todd Krizelman, CEO, MediaRadar

New strategies and technologies will help publishers navigate the shifting data flow

One of the biggest challenges for publishers heading into the new year is the continual evolution and tightening of data privacy policies. Consumers are also becoming more mindful of their data. Therefore, we predict that new privacy regulations will follow the lead of the GDPR and require publishers and their partners to provide consumers with more transparency and control on how their data is used.

By adopting technologies like privacy-focused universal identifiers, publishers can solve different challenges, including privacy compliance, with one solution. Privacy-first IDs ensure compliance with the latest regulations, protect media owner’s data from leakage – and consequent audience depreciation – while enabling them to monetize their traffic effectively when traditional identification methods will be phased out.

—Jessica Werner, Senior Director of Publisher Development, ID5

The challenge is moving an entire industry to a new way of buying media. Advertisers have over 100 ‘post-cookie’ solutions to choose from – not all are equal. There will also be more consolidation and growth in CTV.

The opportunity lies in education, publishers need to encourage testing and learning as we head into 2022. The chaos we’ve seen over the past year is about more than third-party cookies, it’s about how we use data ethically and responsibly in all aspects of digital advertising. Advertisers and agencies will move out of the testing phase and begin to select partners and solutions that are sustainable and use data ethically.

—Michael Ogunjobi, Customer Success Lead, Americas, Permutive              

Going into 2022, one of the key challenges remains the fragmentation of the ecosystem and the difficulties of measuring cross-platform TV viewing and campaign performance.

By leveraging new data and technology capabilities, such as linear addressable, media companies will be able to scale up and facilitate access to their CTV and VOD inventory. This will bring benefits to both sides of the transaction – return on ad spend for brands and optimized yield for broadcasters and other media providers. It is truly an exciting time for premium video and advanced TV.

—Stefanie Briec, Director – Demand Sales, UK & International, FreeWheel

In a market where most publishers are looking to monetize an increasing number of consent-less impressions and with increasing pressure on privacy enforcement, the future belongs to publishers who will find ways to maintain their revenues without collecting personally identifiable information.

This future must be anticipated right now, and our industry should stop holding onto the old world. So, the main focus for publishers should be to find solutions that do not rely on cookies or IDs, but that are still able to qualify 100% of their inventory.

—Fabien Magalon, Chief Supply Officer, Ogury

As the digital advertising industry continues to look ahead to a world with fewer shared personal identifiers, we can expect publishers and brands to turn more and more to AI-powered predictive insights as a way to get to know their audiences next year. As user-level targeting shrinks, and audience-level and contextual targeting grows, AI-powered predictive technologies will help to drive a new age of privacy-compliant targeting.

—Jürgen Galler, CEO and Co-Founder, 1plusX

Heading into 2022, audience, identity, and the challenge around associated data ownership and execution will remain at the forefront of media owner’s minds. Media companies will be navigating a complex and evolving landscape of regulation and regional policies, along with a diverse set of audience, contextual, and identity solutions.

—Leon Gurevich Head of Product & Client Services, IPONWEB

As we look toward 2022, a big challenge within the media industry will be continuing to refine and advance the way we approach audience creation. With challenge, of course, comes opportunity. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity to combine traditional audience approaches with advanced contextual strategies that support quality reach and empower publishers and advertisers to value supply appropriately. The ability to then verify reach and measure the success of those audiences is a critical step for both advertisers seeking ROI and publishers showcasing value in the efforts to further optimize yield.

—Dave Constantino, VP Client Development, Oracle Advertising

Media companies will focus on excellent experiences for the win

Publishers shoot themselves in the collective foot, because horrid ad experiences mean less consumer engagement: less homepage visits, less sharing of emails, fewer pageviews per session, fewer session, etc. At a time when publishers need to build tighter relationships with their audiences, we’re pushing them away with giant piles of junk ads (as well as constant prods to enable push notifications, sign up for newsletters, etc.). There’s a huge opportunity in the ad quality arena.

—Gavin Dunaway, Product Marketing Lead, The Media Trust

The biggest challenge is the acceleration of digital from linear channels and the ability for brands to manage a fragmented media environment. Our mixed reality future—part digital, part physical—will change the way business is done from now on. The opportunity for brands, agencies, and publishers is to smooth chaotic user experiences, by embedding insight into every media exchange.

—Laurel Rossi, CMO, true[X] + Gimbal           

Over the past years, we’ve seen non-traditional publishers start to double down on advertising, and it’s a trend we expect to accelerate in 2022.  Non-traditional publishers take any number of forms, [which] include retail and commerce companies and utility-based sites and apps such as rideshare. Many of these have enormous volumes of traffic, deep customer engagement and the golden goose: first-party data. With non-traditional publishers, it’s vital that it’s vital that ad experiences do not take users out of their walled gardens or detract from the primary experience.

—Justin Choi, CEO, Nativo

The word of the year is quality, which presents both a challenge and opportunity. Brands are increasingly aware of the impact of their media spend, not just on society at large but on the attention that high quality environments can deliver.

—Eric Shih, Chief Supply Officer, Teads

Automation will help level the playing field

We will continue to see self-serve technology impact advertising as we move into 2022. Self-service allows advertisers to manage every aspect of their campaign whenever they need, without talking to a salesperson. Not only does this give users more control, but it also saves time and resources. Self-service generally uses a low-cost technical automated platform to replace the manual tasks in the ad booking process, and that automation allows sales teams to work more efficiently and focus efforts on growing their bigger accounts.             

—Peo Persson, Co-Founder and EVP Sales, DanAds

The biggest opportunity for digital media companies is to boldly tackle customer churn across the entire customer journey. Strategic partnerships and subscription bundles are an excellent place to start. Consumers today are ready for easier, more convenient ways to get all the digital content they love in one place.

Digital media companies need a complete retention approach. Start by getting smarter and more creative with subscription partnerships and bundles. And ensure you get the revenue you deserve by using subscription intelligence, automation, and revenue recovery.

—Roy Barak, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer, Vindicia

Scaling ad revenues by increasing bandwidth via automation integration. Digital media companies will need to leverage automation to streamline their Order-to-Cash workflows and digital processes. This will enable scale while greatly reducing error margins, increasing internal bandwidth and, of course, increase ROI.

—Jay Kulkarni, CEO and Founder, Theorem Inc.

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