The Media Minute 7.17.24

Ad Infinitum: The Ever-Increasing Role Of AI In Advertising

Much has been written (especially by me) about what AI can do for various publishing departments. For the advertising side, new estimates are now saying that, in five year’s time, more than 90% of all ad spending for digital and analog media buys will be AI-enabled.

In its “This Year Next Year: 2024 Global Midyear Forecast,” GroupM is predicting a 94.1% share by 2029, a full three years earlier than it had previously predicted hitting the 90% benchmark for the “growing role of artificial intelligence (AI) and the potential for machine-generated content in advertising.”


The AI Act Compliance Countdown Begins

The AI Act is a sweeping set of rules for technology companies operating in the EU, which bans certain uses of AI tools and puts transparency requirements on developers. The law officially passed in March after two years of back and forth and includes several phases for compliance that will happen in waves. Now that the full text has been published, it officially starts the clock for compliance deadlines that companies must meet. The AI Act will come into law in 20 days, on August 1st, and future deadlines will be tied to that date.


Agency Service Divide: Brands Are Far From Happy

A fair number of brands use agencies for email marketing and other chores. But they may not be getting the service they expect, judging by Mind the Gap, a study from Wpromote, conducted by Ascend2. Of the agencies polled, 76% have high confidence in their service delivery in general. But only 39% of brands are very satisfied.  


Social Media Overtakes Search Engines For Discovery Among Gen Z And Millennials

Traditional search engine usage is declining, particularly among younger demographics, who are increasingly turning to social media and mobile devices for their information needs. A new survey from Forbes Advisor and Talker Research reveals a significant transformation in search behavior across generations. The study of 2,000 Americans found that social media platforms are becoming primary search tools for many.

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The Media Minute 7.10.24

Is The Public Ready For AI In The Newsroom?

Last week, I shared a recent Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism study of how the public would prefer the use of AI in the newsroom.

And while that study found a general wariness amongst the thousands surveyed in six different countries, with “somewhat more comfort” towards AI work with human oversight on softer news topics, newer RISJ numbers from almost 100,000 people in 47 countries elaborate on those preferences and paint a slightly more skeptical picture overall.

“As publishers rapidly adopt AI, to make their businesses more efficient and to personalize content, our research suggests they need to proceed with caution, as the public generally wants humans in the driving seat at all times,” writes Nic Newman in the 2024 Digital News Report overview.


This is Big Tech’s Playbook For Swallowing The AI Industry

With Amazon’s hiring of the team behind a buzzy AI startup, a pattern is emerging: the reverse acquihire.


Businessweek Editor Predicts Print Comeback As 120-page Monthly Edition Launched

Editor of Businessweek Brad Stone said he believes print journalism could make a comeback as the 95-year-old title moved from weekly to monthly circulation this week. The July edition of the US-based title runs to 120 pages and includes an investigation into Indonesian nickel mines and an exclusive interview with the world’s third richest man, LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault. The title claims a circulation of 220,000 in print and across Bloomberg Terminals, the Bloomberg app and Apple News+.


Amazon Faces More EU Scrutiny Over Recommender Algorithms And Ads Transparency

In its latest step targeting a major marketplace, the European Commission sent Amazon another request for information (RFI) Friday in relation to its compliance under the bloc’s rulebook for digital services. The development highlights areas where EU enforcers are dialing up their scrutiny of the e-commerce giant, with the bloc asking for more info about Amazon’s recommender systems, ads transparency provisions and risk assessment measures.

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The Media Minute 7.3.24

Part Of The Process: How The Public Perceives — And Prefers — AI In The Newsroom

I’ve written extensively about AI use in newsrooms and across other publishing departments, but a recent study from Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) at the University of Oxford takes a look at the other side: specifically, how the news-consuming public sees that AI use.

“People are generally more comfortable with news produced by human journalists than by AI,” the study, titled What Does the Public in Six Countries Think of Generative AI in News?, says. “Although people are generally wary, there is somewhat more comfort with using news produced mostly by AI with some human oversight when it comes to soft news topics like fashion (+7 percentage point difference between comfortable and uncomfortable) and sport (+5) than with ‘hard’ news topics, including international affairs (-21) and, especially, politics (-33).”

The survey, conducted by YouGov by sampling more than 2,000 people from the United States as well as 2,000-plus from each of five other countries in March and April, found that the “vast majority” believe that AI-produced news with human oversight should have a label or some disclosure. 


A Jolt For Journalism: States Mull Tax Breaks For Papers That Hire Reporters

Massachusetts may join the parade of states that seek to stop the spread of news deserts by offering tax credits for hiring local reporters. Two state legislators, Rep. Paul McMurtry (D) and Sen. Pavel Payano (D)., expect to offer recommendations by the end of  the year through a reset journalism commission, WBUR reports. Among the probable plans would be tax credits for publishers that add journalists to their payrolls. 


Consumers Want Personalized Loyalty Programs

61% of US adults value loyalty programs that are tailored to their shopping preferences, according to a Bizrate Insights survey. Consumer data is key to creating a more personalized experience for consumers.


The State of the Enterprise Migration Change Decision

In an ideal world, your martech stack runs like a well-oiled machine. In reality, lack of integration across different programs and automations prevents your program from working efficiently. We partnered with Ascend2 to assess the state of technology migration in enterprise organizations and study the factors that drive changes in the martech stack.

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The Media Minute 6.26.24

Digital Transfer: Media Consumption Rising Worldwide (New Report)

Last month, I shared recent research about local journalism, specifically how more Americans are consuming it digitally on news sites and social media than on television and print media.

And while that news isn’t necessarily rosy for those committed to print on its own, it is promising for those incorporating digital … particularly with the latest forecasts from PQ Media regarding media consumption.

Worldwide, total media usage rose 0.3% to 56.15 hours per week, according to PQ Media’s annual Global Consumer Media Usage Forecast. And though that weekly time dropped 0.4% to 76.69 hours in the United States, the forecast shows expansion moving forward.


The AI Trends Report For Ecommerce Marketers

Nearly half of ecommerce marketers who are using AI on the job wish they had AI solutions for performing marketing analytics, comparing their company’s performance to similar organizations, and predicting customer behavior and attributes, according to new research.


5-Year Hit: Legacy Media Profits Halved, Linear Ads Share Decline

Over the last five years — amid dramatic declines in linear TV, theatrical movies — overall collective profitability for major TV/movie networks based media companies has been cut in half, while streaming has a promise that it has yet to deliver. Global cash flow, earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) among six large legacy media companies declined to $17.2 billion in 2023 from $37.3 billion in 2018, according to MoffettNathanson Research.

Extra Costs Are The No. 1 Reason Consumers Abandon Online Carts

Nearly half (48%) of US adults abandoned their online shopping cart at checkout because the extra costs (shipping, tax, fees) were too high, per a survey from Baymard.

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The Media Minute 6.19.24

Renewed Interest: Publishers Increasing Focus On Subscriptions In Face Of Traffic, Ad Revenue & AI Challenges

A recent Toolkits survey of publishing executives found that most are increasing their focus on building subscription revenue when compared to a year ago. 

The results stand against any suggestion that, as Toolkits’ Jack Marshall categorizes it, a “broad subscription reversal is underway.”

Only 32% Of Global Publishers Are Actively Preparing For The Cookieless Future

The transition to a cookieless digital landscape has already taken significant strides despite the delay in Google’s phase-out of third-party cookies. With 45% of global web traffic now cookieless on Teads’ SSP, publishers and advertisers are navigating uncharted territory. This shift poses substantial challenges for publishers and advertisers, as highlighted in Teads’ latest survey. The study, involving 555 publishers across 58 countries, reveals a pressing need for the industry to adapt swiftly to these ongoing changes.

B2B Budget Bliss: Resources Are Being Poured Into Acquisition

B2B marketers are in an expensive mood as they allocate resources for acquisition marketing, judging by The State of B2B Customer Acquisition, a study from Stirista, conducted by Ascend2. Of those polled, 89% are positive about meeting their marketing goals this year. That may reflect spending — 72% expect an increase in acquisition initiatives over the next two years.  

Generative AI Is Now the Most Frequently Deployed AI Solution in Organizations

According to the survey, 29% of the 644 respondents from organizations in the U.S., Germany and the U.K. said that they have deployed and are using GenAI, making GenAI the most frequently deployed AI solution. GenAI was found to be more common than other solutions like graph techniques, optimization algorithms, rule-based systems, natural language processing and other types of machine learning.

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The Media Minute 6.12.24

Yes, Facebook Is Down: Publishers Seeing Drastic Decline In Referrals (New Report)

Last year, in the midst of their still-ongoing battles with legislators and publishers regarding content usage, Meta commissioned a report claiming that less than 3% of what’s ultimately seen in Facebook Feeds are news links. Not only did this represent “an economically small and diminishing role” for the publisher content on the platform, the report claimed, but publishers actually “reap considerable economic benefits” through the traffic driven to their sites.

Recently, Chartbeat and Similarweb released new data highlighting just how steep the decline of Facebook’s referral traffic has gotten.


Among Companies, Amazon’s Ad Surge Overshadows Everything Else

The old Google-Meta duopoly will claim less than 47% of digital ad spending this year. Adding Amazon brings the share above 60%. Every other digital ad publisher pales in comparison, including seemingly major players like Microsoft and TikTok.


B2B Drift: SaaS Marketers Say It Is Harder To Reach Customers

B2B software as a service (SaaS) marketers are being tested — 55% say it has become more difficult to reach customers over the last five years, according to a new study from Exclaimer: The future of 1:1 marketing: Exploring challenges & personalization trends.  


The 2024 B2C Marketing Audience Building Report

While many B2C marketers struggle with data challenges, those who utilize diverse data points achieve significantly better marketing results. This new research offers valuable insights to help you improve your audience targeting strategies through a comprehensive approach to data.

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The Media Minute 6.5.24

Tech Support: The Latest In Legislation Designed To ‘Level Playing Field’ For Publishers And Big Tech

The ongoing battle between Big Tech and publishers has seen some particularly bloody action recently, headlined by Google’s recent launch of AI Overviews. But you’d have to be a hallucinating, pizza-glue-and-rock-eating tool to think the content-creators wouldn’t continue to put up a fight. And in the last week, publishers have seen some big allies step up in their corner.


Study Finds Consumer Payment Experience is Critical for Subscription Growth

Titled “The Payment Experience Is Critical To Subscriber Growth And Retention,” the study sounds the alarm on pervasive payment challenges flatlining consumer subscription growth, with a staggering 100% of surveyed businesses acknowledging the detrimental impact of failed payments.


B2B Pride: Brands Sure Of Their Data Strategy Spend More And Make More

B2B marketing budgets are headed for an uptick this year: 31% of brands that are confident in their data strategies expect significant increases, versus 16% last year, according to The 2024 B2B Marketing Outlook: The Data Confidence Divide, a study from Anteriad, conducted by Ascend2. However, B2B companies face ongoing challenges with their data.  


How AI is Reshaping Marketing for CMOs

Marketing leaders’ jobs are becoming harder than ever. With strict deadlines, tight budgets, and fewer resources, many CMOs are turning to AI to streamline workflows and help teams produce content at scale. We surveyed over 600 marketing and creative professionals at all levels, including 80+ CMOs and marketing leaders, to find out … the impact of content demand on CMOs, how AI is transforming the way marketers work, [and] the outlook on the future of marketing for brands.

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The Media Minute 5.29.24

Searching AI And Low: What Google’s AI Overviews Mean For Publishers

Last week, I wrote about the rising search costs, with CPC and CPL both going up dramatically in the last year. 

There are a number of ways AI and automation can help with offsetting those specific rises, but today I want to shine a light on one particular AI use that is doing publishers no favors in terms of search.

As anyone who’s paid attention to AI news might have guessed, I’m referring to Google’s recently announced AI Overviews.


Google Ads Benchmarks 2024: New Trends & Insights for Key Industries

With over 80% of buying journeys beginning on search engines, it’s not a surprise that so many businesses are running search ads to capture searchers and convert them into customers. But with search engines like Google constantly changing the search landscape, and with advertising costs rising across the board, it’s important to understand how your search ads are really performing to drive the best results for your business.


B2B Dips Into AI: A Small Number Of Firms Try 2 Or More Use Cases

AI is catching on in B2B in a fitful way. Only 11% of brands are using AI for more than two use cases, and 38% are trying it for one, according to a new study from Bain & Company, titled “How B2B Sales and Marketing Leaders Are Getting The Most From Generative AI.” Firms with high revenue growth were twice as likely as laggards to deploy multiple use cases, by a margin of 11% to 5%. 


The State of Email and Automation 2024

The use of automation in email marketing programs allows for the expanded use of personalized and timely communication, enhancing customer engagement and conversion rates. Marketing professionals also consider leveraging AI and machine learning to streamline workflows and deliver more relevant content to their audience at scale. But what is working in email and automation, and what can you learn from other marketing professionals to optimize your programs this year?

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The Media Minute 5.22.24

The Digital Direction: Online Overtaking Newspapers, TV For Local News

A new survey from Pew Research Center is confirming what many of us in the media industry have suspected: the new king of local news is digital.

Almost half (48%) of U.S. adults surveyed said they prefer news sites or social media for getting their local news and information, up from 37% in 2018 and overtaking television (which fell from 41% to 32% in that time). 9% prefer print newspapers (down from 13% in 2018) and an additional 9% prefer radio (up from 8%).


Working Professionals Increasingly Support The Use Of AI Tools

Communicators are more likely to have a favorable view of agencies and colleagues who incorporate AI into their work, according to an Axios-Seven Letter insights survey. This signals that AI-supported work might not be as taboo as it was just one year ago.


CMO Survey Finds Gen AI Already Has Had A Profound Impact On Marketing

The good news is that a little more than a year after generative AI applications began rolling out, they have had a substantial positive impact on marketing. The bad news is that they still are only being used in a fraction of overall marketing functions. Those are among the surprising top-line findings from a just-released new edition of The CMO Survey.


How to Win Gen Z In 2024

[The] new survey spills the tea on a strategy that will make 8 in 10 Gen Z more likely to buy from your brand: exclusive offers that reward their lifestage.

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The Media Minute 5.15.24

Making Time: AI, Automation, And How Business Can Prioritize (And Optimize) Efforts

If I took a poll, I’d bet exactly 100% of us would say we don’t have enough hours in the day. 

The opinions and strategies may vary on what we’d do with any additional bonus hours, but I’m sure we’d all welcome the gift.

Small businesses in particular feel the crunch of workday-hour limitations, and a new survey by Constant Contact and Ascend2 found that most SMBs (56%) spend less than an hour of each day on marketing. Combined with the almost three-quarters of SMBs (73%) that lack confidence in their marketing strategies, it’s a formula that can snowball into bad habits, bad practice, and bad business very quickly.


2024 State of Customer Engagement Report

AI has proved it’s here to stay. In 2023, advancements in predictive and generative AI (hello, ChatGPT) carved a clear path for intelligent customer engagement. Now, brands can ditch the age-old method of one-to-many personalization and deliver unique experiences for every single customer. To understand how brands are adopting AI to offer fully connected experiences — and how customers are responding — we surveyed business leaders and consumers from across the world. 


Opt-Outs Are In: North America Leads The World In This Behavior

North America remained the leading setting for email opt-outs last year, with the U.S. accounting for 76.42% of all opt-outs worldwide, according to a new report from Optizmo Technologies. Yet the total for North America slipped to 79.29%, falling below 80% for the first time as Europe increased to 16.24%. Europe also contributed to a global hike in opt-out activity.


Brands Are Still Investing Big In Sponsored Content On Social Media

U.S. marketers will spend $8.14 million on social media sponsored content this year, marking 16.0% growth YoY, according to our March 2024 forecast. Although spend will rise next year to $9.29 billion, growth is slowing, as marketers spend more carefully with larger creators with whom they can establish long-term relationships.

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