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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

What media tech execs are focused on in 2024

From their vantage, media tech leaders see an increased focus on privacy, personalization, ad innovation and accelerating experimentation that they believe will drive growth in the industry.

January 3, 2024 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN@michellemanafy

The past several years have seen media companies accelerate their revenue diversification, though. We’re also witnessing an increased pace of innovation and spirit of experimentation. That, coupled with crumbling cookies and proliferating privacy regulation means the media marketplace looks much different than it did just a few years ago.

We reached out to some of our supporter partners here at DCN and asked about the biggest trends, 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.) Below, these media tech leaders offer their perspective and insights on what’s ahead.

Industry trends to watch in 2024

Transformation of the advertising ecosystem

In 2024, we’ll see the rise in importance of premium publishers. Cookie deprecation, fraud, and “reject all” are forcing a rethink of how digital advertising works. This creates a massive opportunity for premium publishers that invest in creating quality content and a quality brand to build closer connections with advertisers. And as more spend goes to premium publishers, they can invest more in quality content, creating a virtuous cycle. The result will be a higher-quality open web.

The industry is coming to the realization that advertising without third-party cookies will be better than advertising with them. The industry will be forced to find an alternative in 2024, so we’ll finally see an advertising ecosystem that works for those who bring value, where publishers remain in control of their data and revenue, advertisers maximize spending and build their brands, user experience improves, and consumer privacy is respected.

—Aly Nurmohamed, COO, Permutive

The ad market has been on shaky ground in 2023, but the New Year brings new opportunities. Cookies finally fading into the sunset will negatively impact third party data signals in Open Auction. This provides tremendous opportunity for publishers that can offer differentiated first party audiences at the scale that advertisers desire.

Buyers will need to go to publishers directly so that they benefit from these trusted audience signals.  As Open Auction revenues dip, publishers will need to invest in direct sales, which takes money and effort. Ultimately this will drive revenue growth beyond previous levels so it’s critical to remember that disruption may be uncomfortable in the short term, but it drives innovation as well.

—Chris Guenther, COO, ArcSpan Technologies

With the increase in media consolidation and ad class types, many media companies now represent multi-faceted and valued inventory. As a result, they find themselves maximizing the value of tried and true blue chip inventory, such as premium CTV, but also emerging platforms and media, such as podcasts and non-linear derivative video.

With unequal market demand around these varied inventory types, one of the biggest opportunities in 2024 will be leveraging the power of data targeting and audience segmentation as a vital equalizer for this mass of supply currently undervalued by the market. 

—George Blue, Head of Publisher Partnerships, Equativ 

The impact of AI innovation

AI is disrupting the media industry in an extremely impactful way. And, due to the many opportunities it continues to present, we can expect it to spawn its own industry in 2024. This new sector will take the form of not only new products, but of bolder innovation brought on by elevating AI specialists to the business’s leadership. Expect to meet plenty of newly elected AI officers, and for dedicated AI consultancies to emerge on every show floor. Additionally, the new AI industry will emerge into two tiers of service: specialist AI tools, trained on an organization’s owned data, and generalist AI tools that are less sophisticated and more user friendly. The former will bring the greatest value to a business, providing them with a competitive edge for the industry at large. 

—Alexandra Theriault, Chief Growth Officer, Lotame

It’s hard to overstate the impact AI will have on society and publishing. Many media companies are experimenting with using AI currently. In 2024, we will see this tech weaving its way into the day-to-day. I am excited to see how our industry’s use of this technology expands. AI introduces opportunities throughout publishing – from content creation to optimization of distribution and advertising.

—Todd Krizelman, CEO, MediaRadar

When it comes to news reporting, the greatest opportunity in 2024 lies in leveraging AI and other technology to streamline processes aimed at discerning user preferences. This involves identifying user needs, pinpointing the optimal timing for news consumption, and determining preferred formats such as mobile-optimized content, short story formats, live blogs, graphs, and video imagery. By harnessing AI, newsrooms can strategically allocate their resources, focusing on creating stories that not only garner increased media attention but also foster increased audience engagement, commitment, and brand loyalty.

—Naomi Owusu. CEO and Co-Founder, Tickaroo

We’ll see AI-driven solutions that can analyze vast amounts of data to deliver more effective and efficient advertising campaigns. This will not only enhance the user experience but increase the ROI for advertisers. With increasing concerns over privacy and data security, developing innovative solutions that balance personalization with privacy will be crucial.

—Simon Klein, Global SVP Supply, Teads

Privacy, please

Moving forward, we’ll see a focus on passing data between buyers and sellers in a way that respects users’ privacy. Programmatic infrastructure has been built today for buyers and sellers to trade on user IDs. As privacy moves front and center, buying and selling ‘cohorts’ of users will become the norm, and innovation will come from making the best use of cohorts to drive advertiser outcomes.

—Aly Nurmohamed, COO, Permutive

AI has the potential to greatly improve efficiency, personalization, and discoverability while expanding the accessible market for publications. However, it will be interesting to see how these tools evolve and are used in practice as we navigate moral and privacy concerns that come with the technology.

—Todd Krizelman, CEO, MediaRadar

I am going to be an unabashed optimist here and say I am most excited for a national privacy law, mostly because our current path is unsustainable. According to the IAPP US State Privacy Tracker, as of Dec. 1, 12 states have passed comprehensive privacy laws, nine states have active bills in committee, 14 states have inactive bills, and 15 states have not introduced a privacy bill. It’s a mess. How are publishers, media buyers and intermediaries supposed to operate in this environment? Let’s stop this madness and introduce a national privacy law that works for all sides of the industry and consumers.

—Richard Murphy, President, Alliance for Audited Media

This year, it’s personal

In 2024, a major innovation set to redefine user engagement with newsrooms is the continued evolution of personalized updates across digital news sites. Following the lead of social media channels and search engines, this advancement allows readers  to receive tailored content based on their preferences and behaviors. Newsrooms have begun to embrace this trend, delivering more precisely curated content, and the sports sector has already demonstrated the power of granular customization.

Looking ahead, we can expect even more sophisticated algorithms and machine learning, enabling platforms to provide an increasingly seamless and enjoyable user experience. This hyper-personalization not only enhances engagement but also opens new possibilities for businesses and content creators to connect with their audiences in unprecedented ways, shaping a more relevant and engaging digital landscape in 2024.

—Naomi Owusu. CEO and Co-Founder of Tickaroo

In 2024, harnessing the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to offer highly personalized and engaging ad experiences while respecting user privacy will be critical. I’m particularly excited about the potential of CTV. CTV is revolutionizing TV advertising by allowing for personalized and interactive ad experiences, tailored to viewer preferences. This personalization enhances viewer engagement and ad campaign effectiveness.

—Simon Klein, Global SVP Supply, Teads

Experiment to excel

While interest in advertising on streaming platforms is growing, marketing budgets are not expected to increase in 2024. This means intensifying competition. To remain competitive and attract viewers, traditional publishers are likely to feel more pressure to innovate and experiment.

In the broadcasting world, we are already seeing novel ideas and formats from players such as Channel 4 and NBCU’s Peacock. Ad breaks, ad load, and programming are being reshaped and refined. Broadcasters are testing dynamic adverts and are decluttering content to balance campaign impact with quality viewer experience.

The outcomes of these experiments will shape the future of premium video. Thus, today’s challenges may soon give rise to exciting opportunities for both media companies and advertisers — all thanks to the experimentation we will see in 2024.

—Virginie Dremeaux, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, International, FreeWheel

A major innovation that I anticipate in 2024 is the increased integration of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) into digital advertising. These technologies are poised to transform the way brands interact with consumers by offering them immersive and interactive experiences. Imagine a world where consumers can virtually try on clothes or test products in a simulated environment before making a purchase. This not only elevates the consumer experience but also opens up new creative avenues for advertisers to engage with their audience.

—Simon Klein, Global SVP Supply, Teads

Ad spending across retail media properties and audiences is expected to reach $45 billion in 2023, creating an opportunity for publishers who can bridge content and commerce to capture a healthy piece of that growing spend. In 2024, we expect to see publishers in a strong position to compete with retail media as they introduce shoppable moments into the user experience and build out libraries of commerce-powered content to fuel full-funneled shopper journeys.

Because media companies have direct – and highly trusted – relationships with their audiences, they make natural merchandisers, having incredible power and editorial insights to curate products and experiences for their customers with the goal to maximize sell-through for advertising sponsors. Sure, retailers may have a lot more experience pushing products but as they build out their advertising offerings, they also build the case for commerce media where publishers will shine.

—Kevin Boyrivent, Director of Product Strategy, Supply Solutions, Criteo

Revenue remains the top priority for 2024. But when it comes to advertising, publishers will need to continue to experiment, innovate, and invest in their infrastructure. Publisher-controlled contextual will be key to unlocking greater monetization opportunities in 2024. These signals will be far more sophisticated than the current contextual signals provided by third parties that are high level and frequently inaccurate. Dynamically created advanced taxonomies that support a publisher’s data strategy will offer more granular and relevant contextual signals.  This will ultimately allow publishers to offer more effective advertising options that can only be accessed via a direct relationship. 

After a challenging year for the industry, conversations have highlighted for us that publishers have a clearer sense of priorities and opportunities for 2024. Publishers are going to invest smartly to enhance their data assets to support use cases across advertising, product experience and content creation. It will be exciting to see how that drives new revenue growth and puts the sector in a better position to help advertisers achieve their KPIs and their users to have great experiences.

—Chris Guenther, COO, ArcSpan Technologies

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