The year 2020 will be a tipping point year for media companies. This is the year in which journalists must fight the battle for truth, according to Maria Ressa, CEO of Rappler, a digital news organization based in Manila, the Philippines.
“What we do this year – not just in the Philippines, but all around the world and especially in the United States – will determine whether or not the whole world walks into a cycle of fascism. We’ve been here before. What we do now matters.”
Ressa – who has been the target of persecution in her country – offered these comments as part of a recorded statement presented to attendees of DCN Next: Summit at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Miami, Florida on January 15.
In her statement, Ressa expressed gratitude to DCN CEO Jason Kint, the DCN Board of Directors, and the members of DCN for supporting her cause and helping her to “shine the light” through journalistic endeavors.
“That really is the only weapon that journalists have,” noted Ressa. “What we’ve lived through in the Philippines…our dystopian present is your dystopian future. This is it, the battle for truth.”
The DCN Board of Directors issued a statement (included below) supporting House and Senate Resolutions calling on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to end his political persecution of Ressa and Senator Leila de Lima.
“Healthy democracies thrive with vigorous political discourse and a free, independent press,” noted the statement.
On, the question of whether there exists a line between journalism and activism, Ressa said that “in the battle of truth, journalism becomes activism. This is a hard-fought lesson we have learned in the Philippines.”
Popular populist authoritarian-style leaders are getting elected throughout the world. “Just like they had a dictator’s playbook, they lie,” she said. “A lie told a million times becomes a fact. Without facts, you can’t have truth. Without truth, you can’t have trust. Without all three, democracy as we know it is dead.”
Ressa referenced her own experience when in 2018, the Philippine government investigated Rappler in at least 11 cases. “In 2019, I was arrested…not once, but twice,” she said. “I posted bail eight times.”
The relevance of her travails extends to journalists everywhere. Because, as she said, the “the enabler for all of this is technology. And technology is in the hands of American social media companies,” said Ressler.
“Facebook is our internet” she said. “Where Facebook goes, the Philippines goes. The weaponization of social media was followed by the weaponization of the law. This is what’s happened to the gatekeepers, right? And when the gatekeepers move from the journalists to technologists… lies spread faster than facts.”
Official Statement from the DCN Board of Directors
applaud Senators Edward Markey and Marco Rubio along with Senators Marsha
Blackburn, Christopher Coons and Richard Durbin who introduced Senate
Resolution 142. We also applaud Representative Jackie Speier along with
Representatives Henry Johnson, Jamie Raskin, Brad Sherman and Lloyd Doggett who
introduced House Resolution 233.
Both resolutions call on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to end his political persecution of Senator Leila de Lima and journalist Maria Ressa, founder and CEO of Rappler, a digital news organization based in Manila. Healthy democracies thrive with vigorous political discourse and a free, independent press.”
As a 20-year marketing technology and media vet, I must tip my cap
to Data Management Platform startups for bringing new energy and interest to
the needs of publishers and their commercial partners. We face an ever-changing
media landscape characterized by fragmentation in delivery channels, evolving consumer
consumption behaviors, and privacy regulation. To navigate it successfully, we need
to focus our time and effort on finding innovative and effective ways to
connect, enrich, and activate consumer data for publishers in a manner that
respects consumer privacy and empowers choice.
I admire the marketing prowess and focused messaging of these Data
Management Platform (DMP) companies. However, I can’t stand by while they
purposely and repeatedly mischaracterize technical capabilities and
confuse publishers (and media outlets) on the facts related to profile
identifiers, browser storage mechanisms, privacy compliance, and “match rates.”
In a series of three pieces, I will set the record straight. This
first piece will focus on the facts on profile identifiers, browser storage
mechanisms, and their relationship to privacy regulation.
The facts about profile identifiers and browser storage mechanisms
If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard the term “cookieless
DMP” in the last year, I’d be a very rich person. This is purely a marketing
term with no basis in fact or function. If we’re talking about data management
technologies that are operating in a web browser context, then there is no such
thing as a “cookieless DMP.”
All data management technologies — including DMPs — use profile
identifiers (“PIDs”) in a web context to organize and connect consumer data. A
PID is typically a string of randomly generated letters and numbers. By itself,
a PID usually has no information that can directly identify an individual in
the real world.
In a web browser environment, these PIDs can be stored using one
of three browser storage mechanisms. These are: 3rd party cookies, 1st party
cookies, or browser local storage (sometimes referred to as HTML5 web storage).
It’s important to understand that a cookie is just a storage mechanism (a text
file), and you put a PID string inside the cookie.
1st and 3rd parties
Many years ago, DMPs primarily stored PIDs in 3rd party cookies
because they provided a consistent and scaled container to access PIDs across
websites and over time. In 2017, Apple released
their Intelligent Tracking Prevention (“ITP”) functionality in Safari. It blocked
the setting of 3rd party cookies by default and made that storage mechanism an
ineffective tool for storing and retrieving PIDs. As a fallback mechanism, DMPs
could use 1st party cookies to store and retrieve PIDs.
The difference between 3rd party cookies and 1st party cookies is
that 3rd party cookies can be accessed by the entity that originally set the
3rd party cookie irrespective of which website the consumer is visiting. In contrast,
1st party cookies can only be set and accessed when a consumer is visiting a
specific website domain.
So, for example, a PID that is placed in a 1st party cookie when a
consumer is visiting Publisher_A.com can only be accessed when the consumer is
at Publisher_A.com. If the consumer subsequently visits Publisher_B.com, then a
different PID will be generated and placed in a 1st party cookie that can only
be accessed from the Publisher_B.com domain. Now this same consumer has two
PIDs stored in 1st party cookies — each only accessible when visiting the
Within the past year, Apple has
continued to ratchet-up the ITP restriction on cookies in Safari, and now
even 1st party cookies are being squeezed. In many situations, 1st party
cookies will now only persist for 24 hours before being deleted. As a result,
web developers — including DMPs — have increasingly used browser local storage
as a fallback for storing PIDs.
Browser local storage is a
standard technology built into all major web browsers. It allows for the
storage of larger amounts of data (e.g., HTML code) than cookies, and over
longer periods of time than cookies. Browser local storage isn’t magic
technology — it’s standard web browser technology — and using it to store PIDs
When companies refer to their tech as “cookieless,” it
should be qualifying such as “3rd party cookieless.” It is worth noting that,
despite loud and repeated marketing claims to the contrary, these companies use
1st party cookies as the centerpiece of their platform for data collection. We
know this factually and objectively because they say so in their documentation.
The facts about profile identifiers, browser storage mechanisms,
and privacy regulation
I’m not exactly sure how the idea came about in the press that “cookieless
DMPs” are automagically GDPR compliant. However, that’s a misunderstanding that
needs to be corrected. Whether a PID is stored in a 1st party cookie, 3rd party
cookie, or local storage has no bearing on GDPR compliance obligations as a
processor for a publisher’s data.
Consumers have a set of rights under GDPR. Therefore, any
technology company processing consumer data on behalf of a publisher needs to
provide a means for publishers to transmit to such processors the consent
signals for data collection and use. They must also provide a way for the
processors to enforce those consumer consent choices. Mobile devices don’t use
cookies whatsoever in the app-space. However, publishers still need to comply
GDPR compliance obligations for a publisher-as-controller and a vendor-as-processor do not differ based on whether a vendor’s PID is stored in a 1st party cookie, 3rd party cookie, or browser local storage. Even if no 1st or 3rd party cookies were used — and if browser local storage was exclusively used — the GDPR obligations for the parties remain the same.
True forward-thinking innovation for publishers will be based upon
connecting publisher data to marketer data in meaningful ways across channels
and platforms. It requires providing the means for all parties to analyze,
enrich, and activate for commercial benefit — while always respecting consumer
privacy and empowering choice.
About the author
As Chief Marketing Officer, Adam leads Lotame’s global marketing
and product teams in helping publishers, marketers and agencies solve complex
business challenges with unstacked data solutions. His diverse experience
balances art and science. It includes stints as an aerospace engineer and
patent attorney, plus 21 years in consumer media and marketing technology in
leadership roles at Viacom Media Networks, Time Inc., Hearst, and PebblePost.
Adam is co-inventor on four issued U.S. patents related to interactive video
A decade ago, The Power Of Pull described the amazing outcomes possible when we have the tools to find and access the people, content, information, and resources we need. Pull was seen as the mechanism that would put people in control. It would give them more choices and more information to make those choices.
Today, pull has been turbo-charged by mobile, a transformative technology (the impact of which the authors could not address in their book, so I will here). Mobile has become our collective default state. It eclipses all other digital technology and enables us to do exactly what the authors hoped we would: “collaborate in a complete re-imagination” of our experiences. From content to commerce, and from advertising to advocacy, mobile has left an indelible mark.
You could even say that, thanks to mobile, the Power of Pull has finally arrived. But it’s the advance of messaging apps and platforms that takes this to a new level. Pull brought us the toolset and the mindset to take charge of our content and experiences. Mobile amplified this ability exponentially. And messaging is giving us a new environment to experience both.
A new wave
The first wave of messaging saw the emergence of what I will call pull content, delivered primarily via app notifications. In this scenario, individuals granted permission and volunteered preferences (the choice of news categories, the frequency of alerts and notifications, the level of personalization). And that they opt-in is a must for audiences increasingly concerned about personal privacy. For this reason, content companies that delivered pull content could build trust and brand. In retrospect, it was this reach and impact that allowed the first wave to deliver scalable efficiency.
The second wave of pull, powered by mobile messaging apps and platforms, is destined to be even more transformative because it promises scalable connectivity. Messaging is a platform where companies can deliver interactive, personalized, and conversational experiences. And they can do it affordably at scale.
Messaging is also free to consumers. It also vastly reduces the blight of unsolicited communication. That’s because, as a rule, messaging platforms do not permit companies to send bulk messages as they can via SMS. And it’s growing in popularity. Analysts forecast that the volume of messages sent via the major messaging platforms is expected to exceed the number of SMS text messages by as much as 10x in 2020.
Pull and pictures
Messaging apps and platforms provide an ideal space for companies to forge relationships with audiences and drive connection with brand fans. They have also become the epicenter of our most frequent digital activity: messaging. In August 2018, app market intelligence provider Apptopia reported users globally spent a whopping 85 billion hours in WhatsApp over a period of just three months. (Compare that to 31 billion hours spent on Facebook).
Messaging platforms have experienced explosive growth in users and usage, outpacing some of the biggest social media channels. Together, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger alone have nearly three billion daily active users– that’s almost half the planet. In 2018 the Big Four messaging apps (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Viber) had 4.1 billion combined users. A whopping 72 trillion messages were sent across these platforms (compared to 1.6 trillion searches on Google).
However, people aren’t just messaging more or more often. Empowered by pull, are using the universal language of pictures. People share more than 4.5 billion photos, 1 billion videos, and 80 million GIFs per day on WhatsApp alone. A comprehensive analysis of people’s messaging behaviors on Facebook Messenger (conducted by Facebook) reveals that nearly 60% of respondents have sent emoji-only messages to communicate a concept. What’s more, over half indicated that messaging has replaced all other forms of communication.
United by their passions and interests (supported by a shared visual language), this audience craves instant access to what matters. There’s no room for trial and error. Content must be hyper-personalized, highly visual, and always to the point. Against this backdrop, messaging platforms offer the perfect petri dish to experiment with new approaches around content design and distribution.
Bite-size is back
Messaging platforms also unlock the potential of content companies to satisfy our appetite for bite-sized content. That means short videos, short-form content, graphics, and memes. Content that might feel out-of-place in-app or online is at home on messaging platforms. Media companies and publishers need no convincing. In fact, some new organizations are encouraging audiences to visually enhance the conversation.
The Washington Post, which distributes snackable news content via Viber, a messaging app used by more than one billion people worldwide, has had remarkable success with a series of news-related stickers. The packs count more than 2 million downloads since they were first launched in 2016. “The stickers we’ve created allow users to say what they want about news without having to type a complete thought and simply add delight and character to their conversation,” Amy King, Design Director of Emerging News Products at The Washington Post said in a recent interview.
The Washington Post is just one of a long line of news organizations — including the BBC, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, HuffPost, and Financial Times — that are experimenting with messaging apps as an additional distribution channel. For many, the primary focus has been on providing short news updates and links to related and relevant content. However, some companies have zeroed in on the interactive nature of messaging platforms. They’re adding a new dimension to bite-sized news and leveraging yet another aspect of pull: two-way conversation.
Micro-newsletters for mass audiences
Bloomberg has harnessed WhatsApp to send messages every day and hear back from users directly, Katie Boyce, Managing Editor, Digital, Bloomberg, stated in an email interview. “After big news would break, we started to ask our WhatsApp audience what they want to know. We would get such thoughtful feedback that we could then incorporate it into our reporting and send back updates,” she explains. “It was a much different conversation than what we get on our public social channels. We built up a very highly engaged audience.”
It also paved the way for Bloomberg to bundle bite-sized content into personalized packages that balance depth with the demand for distilled information. The outcome was a new format it calls the “micro newsletter.” The content is longer than a push alert but shorter than a typical newsletter.
Boyce describes the content as a “very conversational update three times a day at the end of each region’s news day, summarizing the big stories of the day.” It has been so popular with the audience that it prompted Bloomberg to “create multiple sub-groups around topics like markets or the Middle East so that we could send more targeted messages.”
Using this approach, which was nominated for a SOPA (Society of Publishers in Asia), a benchmark for world-class journalism, Bloomberg has done more than grow its numbers. It has recruited and audience of advocates eager to follow the discussion no matter where it takes them.
In December Bloomberg moved its distribution to Telegram, a messaging platform projected to hit 1 billion users by 2022. (Admittedly, Bloomberg’s move was driven more by necessity than inspiration as Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, made good on its promise to crack down on what it considers “non-personal” use on the platform. In December efforts turned to the gray area of newsletters. And it ruled that publishers will no longer be allowed to send out newsletters on WhatsApp.)
Within two weeks of moving the micro-newsletter messages over to Telegram, Boyce reports that Bloomberg “gained over 25,000 followers” on the new platform many of whom migrated from WhatsApp. But efforts to leverage the popularity of messaging platforms doesn’t stop there. Bloomberg is “continuously evaluating other ways to meet users where they are,” Boyce says. It’s a smart approach in the age of pull.
Messaging is the new frontier
As we kick off a new decade, it’s critical that content creators — be they media companies or marketers — understand consumers’ growing appetite for concentrated content on their terms and in the spaces where they choose to congregate. It’s a global phenomenon that sees audiences flocking to messaging apps, drawn by the simplicity of snackable content.
It also offers audiences the opportunity to “share and discuss news, away from the toxicity of political debate that threatens more open spaces,” according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019. Based on data from almost 40 countries across six continents, the report highlights this mega-trend. It notes that WhatsApp has already become a primary network for discussing and sharing news in western countries (where WhatsApp has a strong presence) as well as non-western countries including Brazil (53%), Malaysia (50%) and South Africa (49%). The upshot: “as more people use messaging services, news usage has also risen.”
Now that news organizations and media companies have an audience on these platforms, they must adopt the culture and language of these communities and capture the Zeitgeist to deliver on the promise of pull. A decade ago, companies were just beginning to develop this mindset, with the understanding that constant and instant accessibility of information was an audience demand and responding with models that would rebalance businesses and organizations to be powered by pull.
But there was a catch. We had the message, to borrow a concept from the visionary Marshall McLuhan. But without messaging platforms, we lacked the medium to deliver at scale. Today we have both. Mobile — messaging in particular — is where people spend their time. And content companies who build experiences that are right-sized and optimized can leverage this behavior to engage highly-receptive audiences.
From the boom of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands to the introduction of new OTT streaming services such as Disney+, 2019 brought significant innovation to the digital media space. As we begin 2020, it’s time to think about which media trends will shake up the new year. Here’s what the MediaRadar team sees on the horizon.
The year of paradox for linear TV
In 2019, it was estimated that 6.4 million paid subscribers stopped paying for television. In 2020, as OTT streaming services continue to gain control, an almost equal, incremental decline in number of paid subscribers is predicted. However, despite “cord-cutting” in the TV industry, linear cable and broadcasters are poised to have a successful year. This is due in part to several major TV events set to occur throughout 2020.
The 2020 presidential election will have politicians spending significant amounts of ad dollars to get their messages across. Some estimate that spending will approach as much as $10 billion – or almost $6 billion more than the 2010 election. Advertisers are also predicted to allocate heavy ad spend towards the Tokyo Summer Olympics, as well as other large tent-pole sporting events like the Super Bowl. This year’s Super Bowl is expected to deliver strong financial results, as Fox reported in early December 2019. In fact, 80% of the inventory had already sold at a reported $5.6 million per 30 seconds. That marks a 7% jump from last year.
Amidst the evolving TV landscape, providing viewers with
real innovation will become crucial for success. Keeping that in mind, in 2020,
it’s believed that nearly all major broadcasters will either reboot or unveil
their paid streaming businesses. While this is just the start, this shows
broadcasters are committed to re-engaging with their audiences and future
Politics’ role in digital media
An exploding ad spend isn’t the only way the presidential
election will shape the industry this year. The election is expected to take
over much of the news cycle and political ads. Every platform will be
scrutinized for accuracy more than ever before. Ahead of the election, digital
ad companies are expected to face strong public pressure to ensure their
political ad policies are tightly “buttoned up.”
Twitter recently announced they will be opting out of politics, disallowing political ads entirely. Google announced that they are restricting targeting capabilities for political ads and Facebook is predicted to follow suit, despite pressures to go further.
Based on these companies’ decisions, it’s likely that other
media will feel the same pressures in 2020. It will be up to these companies’
leadership to navigate this evolving digital landscape during the election
cycle. Foremost: an emphasis on clear and ethical business decisions.
OTT remains hot
Over the past few years, investment in the OTT space has been heavy and rapid. It shows no signs of slowing down in 2020. UBS estimates a combination of 16 media firms will spend $100 billion to produce content in 2020. Of that $100 billion, just three firms – Netflix, Disney and WarnerMedia – are projected to account for 25%, producing unique content for their viewers.
For the financial health of the companies competing in the space, it’s likely that this investment cannot last long-term. Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, has acknowledged that Disney+ will probably not break even for at least the first five years. Meanwhile, AT&T has said the same of upcoming streaming platform, HBO Max.
Eventually, it’s predicted that end user prices will rise,
ad-supported models will become more common – SVOD versus AVOD – and spend on
content will decrease to ensure profitability. Being in the early days of the
streaming wars, however, the major players are willing to gamble with losses
now to gain profits later. In the fight to capture the attention, and monthly
payments of consumers around the world, and to make the investment worth it,
not all can win.
2020 looks to be both an exciting and transformative year
for digital media. The TV industry will shift focus as they seek to re-engage
with audiences through paid streaming businesses and offerings. Major TV
events, specifically the 2020 presidential election and flagship sporting
events, will help sustain linear cable and broadcasters through the year.
Investment in OTT is only expected to increase, especially as “cord cutting”
Perhaps the biggest change in 2020, though, will be as a
result of the state of politics. With politics playing a larger role in the
space than ever before, media companies will begin adjusting their strategies
and policies accordingly – a change that could have a lasting impact on the
The digital advertising landscape is constantly—and rapidly—evolving. Both publishers and advertisers will continue to see shifts in their businesses in 2020 as new technologies gather increased market share. Those who can harness these innovations to forge stronger connections with customers will have an opportunity to stand out from the crowd and drive revenue.
Staying on top of industry trends is crucial for brands vying for consumers’ attention. However, it can be equally challenging and time-consuming. The team at Lineup Systems compiled a list of predictions for publishers to kick off the conversation. Here are a few of the key takeaways:
Publishers will optimize for voice search
As we gain clarity on which technologies and business models signal trends rather than fads, voice technology is first in line. Voice began generating buzz in the marketplace in 2019, and its growing popularity is undeniable.
“There’s a lot of potential surrounding voice technology, and how to monetize it is the next challenge,” says Sarah Hartland, marketing manager and editor of Lineup Systems’ industry blog, the Newsroom.
It’s clear that the next generation of consumers will search for and buy products primarily through voice technology. By 2022, 55% of households are expected to own smart speakers. And voice searches are estimated to make up half of all online searches. Voice is on track to become a $40-billion channel. This means publishers need to optimize their digital content for voice search to get ahead.
“It’s very positive that publishers are having discussions around voice even if they haven’t quite nailed down how it’s going to generate revenue,” Hartland says.
Publishers will get increasingly creative with subscription models
Subscription models will continue to be relevant in 2020 and present exciting opportunities to reach audiences. Publishers need only look at the profound impact the direct-to-consumer model has had on the retail industry for inspiration and motivation.
The impressive success of subscription models can be largely attributed to personalization. The curated nature of subscriptions helps alleviate the overwhelm that consumers often experience when faced with too many choices. As a result, people are willing to pay for personalized experiences that one-off purchases simply can’t deliver.
Publishers who make the effort in 2020 to understand how their audience wants to consume their content will reap the benefits of the subscription model trend.
Data privacy regulations will benefit brands
Data privacy regulation is top of mind for advertisers and publishers alike due to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), effective on January 1, 2020. Compounded with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and ePrivacy Regulation, this new law signals that data privacy is an issue the digital advertising industry must continue to grapple with. Therefore, it’s time for publishers and advertisers to get creative.
“Because publishers can no longer rely on third-party data, they have to find or build new consent management platforms with first-party data in mind,” says Tiffany Kelly, digital product manager at Lineup Systems.
It’s crucial that publishers diversify their revenue streams and clearly articulate their value to consumers in exchange for opt-in consent. This will help mitigate the impact of consumer privacy laws on their businesses in 2020 and beyond.
Contextual targeting is part of the solution, because unlike audience-based targeting, it reduces the need to use personal data to reach people and has resulted in purchase intent increases of up to 63%.
“We have to recognize this shift as a positive thing,” says Hartland. “Nuances like double opt-ins and cookies can be a pain to figure out. But it will ultimately lead to some exciting long-term benefits around industry leadership, audience loyalty, and data quality.”
Getting in the game is the only way to win
It’s true that as new technology enters the marketplace, it brings challenges with it. However, brands that can adapt can make this work to their advantage in 2020. Publishers and advertisers who can find creative ways to harness the capabilities of new tech will have an opportunity to strengthen their relationships with consumers and drive revenue.
For seven more trends that will dominate 2020, plus a list of ways you can keep up throughout the year, check out Lineup Systems’ free white paper on digital advertising trends.