As 2023 draws to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on the pivotal consumer and market trends that have shaped the digital publishing world for our content and publisher partners. This year has been a testament to the industry’s resilience and innovation, especially in the realm of revenue optimization. From adapting to a world without third-party cookies to the rise of Connected TV (CTV), these trends have not just influenced our present – they pave the way for the future. For digital media executives, understanding these shifts is crucial to staying ahead in an ever-evolving landscape. To help navigate this dynamic environment, we’ve compiled a list of the seven key trends that shaped the media world in 2023:
1. Emphasis on brand safety
Brand safety has taken center stage, aligning with the need for quality journalism and trustworthy content. Maintaining high editorial standards will be essential in 2024 to ensure a safe and credible platform for both users and advertisers. In line with this issue, about 40% of marketers expect an increase in brand safety concerns, highlighting the crucial role of publishers in fostering a safe and transparent advertising environment.
2. Sustainable and ethical advertising practices
The growing trend towards sustainability and ethics in advertising calls for a deeper understanding of these practices. In 2024, partnering with those who have sustainable business practices and understand their carbon footprint will be crucial. This shift in consumer preferences is evident as 92% of consumers trust brands that are socially responsible or eco-friendly, and 81% of shoppers prefer eco-friendly marketing and advertising, indicating a strong preference for sustainable and ethical practices.
3. Subscription models and user experience
The growth of subscription models has highlighted the importance of balancing revenue generation with user experience. In the coming year, the focus should be on providing valuable content while ensuring a seamless and engaging user experience. As an example, one publisher, with more than 9.3 million subscribers, successfully embraced subscriber audiences to power ad revenue in 2023 demonstrating the substantial reach and impact of subscription models on advertising revenue.
4. Preparing for a Cookie-less world
The demise of third-party cookies has reshaped the digital advertising landscape, compelling publishers to embrace first-party data and contextual advertising strategies. However, progress remains slow, with over half (53%) of digital marketing campaigns still relying on third-party data. As we approach 2024, it’s vital to have your cookie-less strategy ready, to ensure a smooth transition and continued advertising effectiveness. Without a cookie-less strategy, publishers risk significant disruption in their ad targeting and personalization capabilities, which could lead to a decrease in advertising effectiveness and revenue.
5. Navigating algorithm changes and maintaining publisher revenue
In 2023, publishers faced significant challenges due to algorithm changes by big tech platforms leading to reduced inventory and revenue, while declining CPM rates further strained publisher profitability. To combat this, publishers should focus on producing high-quality content that their audiences value to regain control of data and revenue streams. This is particularly crucial in light of the recent revelation that social platforms in the US owe news publishers between US$11 billion and US$14 billion per year, highlighting the need for fairer revenue-sharing models.
6. Innovative video and interactive content
2023 saw a surge in demand for innovative, engaging, and non-intrusive video and interactive content. In 2024, working with partners who can deliver such content effectively will be paramount to enhancing the user experience. Interactive content sees 52.6% higher engagement than static content, making it an essential tool for capturing and retaining audience attention. Additionally, interactive content can be used to collect valuable data about audience behavior, which can then be used to inform future content strategies without relying on cookies.
7. Monetizing CTV inventory
As CTV’s exponential growth, driven by a staggering 19.6% ad spend increase in 2023 alone, opens new monetization avenues, finding the right balance in monetization and selecting the appropriate supply partner becomes key. By choosing the right CTV supply partners, brands can effectively target their desired audience and deliver high-quality, relevant ads that connect with viewers, resulting in enhanced brand awareness and engagement.
Looking back and moving forward
As we look back on 2023, the lessons we’ve learned are invaluable. The digital publishing landscape is ever-changing, and staying abreast of these trends is crucial for any media executive. By embracing these developments, preparing for what’s next, and collaborating with the right partners, you can tackle the challenges of the digital landscape in 2024 and beyond.