The Media Minute 2.1.23

Two recently released reports are not only putting an optimistic look at advertising spend in the coming year, but also pointing directly to the technological advances many are taking to make that a reality.

The first bit of good news comes from the Winterberry Group, who estimate 2023’s ad spend to come in at $509 billion, up 6% from last year’s $481 billion. Their findings, released in last week’s “The Outlook for Advertising, Marketing and Data 2023” report, put 60% of that total spend ($307 billion) occurring on online channels.

The subscription economy is probably one of the most important economic trends of recent decades, which is why I talk to decision-makers from various industries about their experiences and challenges in my podcast “Subscribe Now”. The podcast is aimed at anyone who works in a subscription company and is looking for new impetus outside their direct industry. After all, many insights transfer well.  Here are seven key subscription learnings from seven different industries for publishers to apply to their own strategies.

Top executives of big holding company and independent media services agencies that do not officially release advertising forecast estimates last week told MediaPost they believe the ones that do publish them do not represent what they have been experiencing in terms of U.S. ad spending trends.

Specifically, they said their own internal estimates are closer to ones published by MediaPost last week, based on analysis of data from Standard Media Index indicating the U.S. ad economy expanded only about 3% in 2022, which compares with a consensus of nearly 10% from the Big 4 agency holding company’s more estimates.

The first quarter is off to a rocky start for publishers’ advertising businesses, and while that might not come as a surprise given the state of the economy — even for media execs who forecasted their companies’ revenue goals according to the headwinds in the market — January is pacing between 10% to 25% off their projected targets, according to three media executives. Three other execs profiled for this piece said their business is approximately even with Q1 2022.

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The Media Minute 1.25.23

More than 300 media executives from more than 50 countries and territories were surveyed in this year’s “Journalism, Media, and Technology Trends and Predictions” report from The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. And as can be expected, the results should prove enlightening to publishers as they traverse 2023, particularly with an eye toward technology.

It seems like only yesterday that publishers were scrambling to understand the ramifications of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU and U.K. and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). A new set of state-specific privacy regulations is scheduled to take effect in 2023.

Starting in 2023, five U.S. states (California, Virginia, Colorado, Connecticut and Utah) will require companies to offer an opt-out on the collection and sale of personal data, as well as targeted advertising. California’s new regulation amends and expands on the requirements of CCPA, while the other four represent an entirely new set of obligations.

Toolkit’s Jack Marshall defines subscriber onboarding as the process through which new customers are initiated into a subscription or membership product. He said: “It’s the experience they’re met with in the moments, hours and weeks after their initial purchase is made.”

Writing in The Fix, David Tvrdon says that if publishers properly welcome new users and subscribers, they will stay longer. Outlining his experience of developing the onboarding journey for new digital subscribers at Slovakia’s Denník SME, Tvrdon has laid out a four step process for creating a successful subscriber onboarding journey.

Email/SMS grew by 5.7% last year, falling far behind CTV (+46.5%), digital video (+17.5%), search (+16.1%) and digital-out-of-home (+15) in growth, according to Outlook for Advertising, Marketing and Data 2023: Clouds on the Horizon?, a report by Winterberry Group.

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The Media Minute 1.18.23

“68% expect continued subscription growth, while 80% see subscriptions as the key revenue driver for 2023.”

Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism have released their latest set of predictions for 2023 which shine a light on some of the biggest trends to monitor in 2023. From a survey of 303 news executives from across the world, we have selected 8 graphs for you need to see.

Marketers may have finally gotten it right. CivicScience January data shows that consumers believe digital ads they see are becoming more relevant, although companies like Apple, Google and Facebook are using less personal data to target ads.

While Apple pretty much “destroyed” user tracking on iOS, according to platforms like Facebook, consumers are reporting otherwise. The number of U.S. adults who say digital ads they see are at least somewhat relevant to them has climbed from 30% to 41% during the past two years.

Every downturn is good for someone. Take TikTok, for instance.

Even as marketers continue to scrape dollars back wherever they can, whether that be from TV or Facebook, they can’t stop pouring money into the short-form video app. And that’s despite some big question marks over whether those ad dollars could be funding growing tensions between the U.S. and China.

The FTX crypto exchange went kaput in November, taking billions in real-world money down with it. It’s a reminder that, despite all the potential around web3 for publishers, there are still a lot of issues to be overcome.

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The Media Minute 1.11.23

Only one thing is certain about the business forecast for 2023: uncertainty. From customer behavior to workplace dynamics, an unpredictable environment will likely persist. But marketing leaders can’t afford to ride out the year without a plan.

Recent research sponsored by Grammarly with market intelligence firm IDC explores how organizations are leveraging technology and AI to bear the challenges of the moment. I predict three areas where marketing leaders will lean into AI to uplevel their teams, increase productivity and drive alignment across marketing channels.

After a frantic couple of years, when reader revenue seemed to be the only game in town, 2022 ushered in talk of a subscriptions shakeout. As markets from heated seats to tacos introduced monthly payment offers, the threat of market saturation has become real. And with the cost of living crisis kicking in, concerns have been growing that consumers are starting to consider just which subscriptions they really need.

Micropayments, or a system in which digital readers pay per article, fail to work thanks to a complex web of consumer psychology and macro economics… But, I do wonder (“Oh no,” you’re thinking, “He’s about to offer a new way to do micropayments!”): Perhaps micropayments are a misguided instance of a worthwhile idea. Maybe there are other payment options publishers could be offering readers.

The current economic downturn is creating growth challenges for businesses everywhere. A recent Crunchbase report showed that startup financing dropped across all stages in the second quarter of 2022, declining by27% from Q1 of this year and 25% year over year… To overcome growth stagnation, optimize revenue, and survive a stretch of economic uncertainty, marketers must adopt strategies that shift attention to the right KPIs.

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The Media Minute 1.4.23

The digital advertising marketplace may choose smaller publishers and traditional media over big tech. Digital advertising spending declined 1% in November, according to data from Standard Media Index (SMI). This is thought to be the first time that overall spending has fallen in the digital publishing era. The good news is that smaller digital publishers, and even traditional media, could benefit from a weaker concentration of advertising spending with the major platforms.

It remains to be seen when third-party cookies will be fully phased out. But it’s clear that the priority should remain building a solid and flexible first-party data strategy that can withstand constant shifts in privacy and audience accessibility. Publishers who do so will be best positioned to help advertisers fill the gap between privacy and personalization while uncovering new monetization opportunities. The Seller-Defined Audiences strategy is emerging as a way to reinforce the connection between publishers, advertisers, and the consumer.

As brands look to associate themselves with engaging and reliable content, publishers are meeting advertisers’ needs by increasingly leveraging audio and video as storytelling and monetization tools. Not only do audio and video attract the younger users that advertisers seek, but these formats also allow brands to run more emotionally resonant campaigns than other ad choices offered by digital publishers.

Public relations can help B2B firms establish their brands. But 43% do not use editorial coverage as a sales enablement tool — at least in the UK, according to new research from Champion Communications conducted by Vanson Bourne.

Yet B2B marketers say that public relations is responsible for 74% of all new business opportunities, and 41% say that 80% or more of their marketing-qualified leads came through PR, with the average response at 74%.

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The Media Minute 12.28.22

The Big Forecasters have spoken, and after some December revisions to their ad economy outlooks, that ever-constant ebb of optimism and flow of recession concerns has painted a new forecast that, well, is not too far from what was predicted at the start of 2022.

Adland saw its fair share of ups and downs this year. For a comprehensive look at what this rollercoaster ride has been — and what it means for 2023 — take a look below. And let us know what we missed.

The case for a broad revenue mix in publishing has never been stronger. With the events market still on shaky ground after coronavirus lockdowns, digital ad rates tanking and rising cost-of-living pressures squeezing online subscription sales, the last thing any publisher needs to be at the moment is a one-trick pony.

There is no doubt these are tough times, but, this too will pass and those that survive will be left thinking hard about where to go next.

A group of Google Chrome users are asking a federal appellate court to intervene in a privacy lawsuit alleging that the company wrongly collects data from users who browse in incognito mode.

In papers filed Friday with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, counsel for the users say U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers judge incorrectly refused to allow the users to seek monetary damages on a class-wide basis. The users are asking the 9th Circuit to hear an immediate appeal of Gonzalez Rogers’ ruling.

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The Media Minute 12.21.22

There’s no denying that the prospect of a cookieless future is concerning to many. For years, Magazine Manager Blog has written about various cookie concerns (and the data-driven strategies to address them).

New data from Mediaocean’s 2022 Market Report and 2023 Outlook confirms much of that, with 37% of the more than 600 respondents saying a lack of preparedness for a cookieless future (“and other data deprecation relating to consumer privacy”) was the largest area of concern for their media and marketing initiative.

Google has offered an in-depth look at how automation will pick up where cookies leave off when targeting ads without browser cookies. The company is collaborating with the advertising industry to transition to new private ad technologies that eliminate support for third-party cookies in Chrome during the second half of 2024.

Joey Trotz, director of product management for Privacy Sandbox at Google, in a blog post, describes how the post-cookie project will change its advertising platform once cookies are no longer used. Turns out the project relied highly on automation.

As more users expect transparency, control, and choice over how their data is used, how can publishers build consumer trust, protect user privacy, and create a more responsible web? Becky Dutta, VP of Customer Success at Permutive, and Mathew Rance, Head of Commercial Data at Immediate Media, met as part of the Responsible Web Roadshow to discuss how publishers are addressing the issue…

The U.S. ad market fell 6.7% in November, marking the sixth consecutive month of declines and giving impetus to the notion that the ad industry is in recession, according to MediaPost’s analysis of data from Standard Media Index’s (SMI) U.S. ad market tracker.

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The Media Minute 12.14.22

To be clear, things are bleak — online advertising’s uncurbed euphoria slammed into a harsh reality this year. The layoffs and closures across the media industry are proof of that phenomenon.

Granted, it was inevitable because the rampant growth spurt online advertising has been on was always going to run out of steam. This slowdown is providing a much-needed reality check of sorts for swathes of the market. Inevitable because the rampant growth spurt online advertising has been on was always going to run out of steam.

Google apologized last week for the “inconvenience” it caused online publishers when its ad managing platform stopped serving ads and prevented sites from generating revenue and advertising agency representatives from serving ads for brands. This once again raises questions about agencies’ and brands’ dependency on Google advertising services.

Recirculation is a real-time analytics metric that compares the number of people on a given page to the number of people who have continued their journey from that article to another one on the same site. In other words, it’s the percentage of readers that make it past the first article of their visit. While some readers will naturally engage with multiple articles per visit, most need extra help getting deeper into a site. In fact, across the Chartbeat network, 89% of readers will leave a site after engaging with just one article. While that might be a discouraging figure at first glance, it’s also a testament to the importance of Recirculation in your engagement strategy.

Marketers have had a rough go of it in 2022, and Gartner’s CMO predictions for next year don’t herald happier times. One of the biggest factors pressuring the role remains the economy. While some of the inflationary pinch has eased in recent months, fears a recession will hit next year endure. Marketing departments are often among the first targeted for cutbacks in a downturn.

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The Media Minute 12.7.22

The third quarter of 2022 saw mobile traffic and engaged time remain largely unchanged while loyalty increased and search traffic slipped in some regions. While most regions saw a decrease or no change in their percentage of pageviews from Search, it’s worth noting that the channel as a whole is on the rise. Raw traffic from Google in particular has risen in 2022, while Facebook traffic has remained flat.

If there is a positive story in the ad-spending downgrades being issued this week by the major agency forecasting units, it’s that ad budgets are becoming far less concentrated among the big digital platforms and the biggest beneficiaries are smaller digital publishers and — surprise — traditional media.

Manga predicts that 2023 will be a slow year for U.S.-based advertisers, with sales growing just 4% to $330 billion. This is largely due to the lack of cyclical and political ad spending. When this type of spending is excluded, the firm predicts ad spending will grow 6%, with market recovery in the second half of the year. Following a small uptick in ad revenues in 2022 for traditional media owners, Magna’s predicts that ad sales for publishing and television will shrink by 3% and 4% respectively in 2023.

Meta Platforms on Monday threatened to remove news from its social networking service if Congress passes the controversial Journalism Competition and Preservation Act.

“If Congress passes an ill-considered journalism bill as part of national security legislation, we will be forced to consider removing news from our platform altogether rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions,” spokesperson Andy Stone said Monday on Twitter.

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The Media Minute 11.30.22

Together Yahoo and Taboola are forming a contextual data powerhouse to reach consumers, important as cookies go extinct. As advertisers want to reach consumers at massive scale, but shouldn’t have to be trapped in walled gardens, this deal gives them massive scale from two trusted pioneers.

Consent will be a critical issue for publishers next year, according to Richard Reeves, managing director of the Association of Online Publishers (AOP).  Specifically, Reeves means informed programmatic ad consent, as opposed to, say, email opt-in. Publishers are seeking tech solutions that “do not rely on personally identifiable information,” Reeves said in an interview with the UK’s PressGazette.  

So much of the attention around the death of third-party cookies and its impact on the digital advertising industry is focused on the implications for brands and consumers, which is far from the complete picture. The digital publishing industry in the U.S. is massive and set to be shaken up as it heads into the cookieless future. However, for those publishers that leverage the right technologies, the death of cookies should be seen as an opportunity to generate new revenue streams and rebuild trust with their readers.

A headless system lets publishers store their content in one place, but distribute to any frontend. With more and more digital channels and devices available to consumers, publishers have had to adapt their publishing processes to reach audiences where they spend their time. This has led to a rise in demand for headless content management systems (CMS) that store content centrally, but distribute it across multiple display options.

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