We’re into Q3 of 2017, and the challenges of the year have asserted themselves with a vengeance. Once again, digital media proves a difficult industry in which to make money for publishers, although ad spend is increasingly going digital. As we’re all well aware most (99%) of the growth in spend went to Facebook and Google.
Even venerable media properties like the New York Times, which now counts 2 million digital subscribers, do not think of themselves as safe from the vicissitudes of the industry.The Times has given buyouts to many of its newsroom and editing veterans. Relative newcomers like The Verge and Vice are still struggling with monetization models, even as they burn through venture capital.
In addition, publishers and advertisers now have to contend in earnest with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), which will take effect next year.
Despite all its shortcomings, so far nothing else has emerged to rival advertising as a way to support free digital content. In response to consumer dissatisfaction, however, advertising has had to make several changes. The savvy brands already know about these, but some less innovative companies are still demanding intrusive formats and programmatic buys aimed at quantity rather than quality.
For the innovators, the banner display ad is all but dead. Instead, we have moved to video, especially on mobile. And video can be pre-roll, mid-roll, or out stream. Video ads are better tolerated on mobile than display ads, and are typically more visible.
Going Native Advertising now wants to look more like content. Almost all advertisers have embraced the concept of native ads, although there are differences of opinion as to what constitutes native. Is it a video ad that is relevant to the surrounding content, such as a video ad for camping equipment in an article about our national parks, or is it a format that fits into the mobile feed of the site.
Sponsored Content Sponsored content is often confused with native advertising. When Digiday prints articles bylined by company CEOs in our industry, we don’t look at those as industry reporting, but as content that favors the point of view of the company who paid for it. Sponsoring an article can be a very good way to position a company as a thought leader.
More Personalized Buys. Programmatic advertising introduced a new middle man, ad tech, into the relationship between buy and sell-side. The goal of programmatic was reaching audiences at scale for low dollars, and targeting the right audience with the right ad at the right time.
Move from Scale to Engagement. This last trend is the one we find most promising. For years, digital advertising has been a numbers game. It’s been difficult to convince brands that numbers didn’t translate to sales. Consumers finally had to deliver the message: “we don’t want to see your irrelevant ads. Show us something we want.”
Measuring the Right Things. 2017 was the year that the consumers’ message got through loud and clear. As a result, metrics are changing, although the changes haven’t yet settled out.