The Media Minute 11.23.22

The digital habits people worldwide picked during the pandemic have persisted. A new report shares how the continued rise in the use of digital content creates ongoing opportunities for publishers. “Global digital content consumption continues to soar,”—55% of people report spending more time each day consuming content now than they did pre-pandemic, according to a new report by data and analytics platform, DoubleVerify. Further, two of three (66%) say they intend to continue pursuing online hobbies they began during the pandemic.

Google has published a help document that outlines its “notable” ranking systems deployed throughout the years. Some of them are still in use today, while others are not. The list outlines how the company defines each system, how it is used, and what it means for Google Search. The document, A guide to Google Search ranking systems, lists the ranking systems currently used in Google Search, and those that the company retired.

As privacy regulations and browsers crack down on third-party cookies, marketers are searching for alternative solutions that will help them better understand audiences. Enter identity-driven data clean rooms, which many marketers believe will serve as a more privacy-focused method for analyzing and activating customer data.

The ad industry and advocacy groups on Monday weighed in with the Federal Trade Commission on potential new privacy rules, with the ad industry voicing opposition to possible regulations, but consumer advocates contending that new rules are needed.

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The Media Minute 11.16.22

The cost per lead has increased significantly, with 21 of 23 industries seeing an increase year-over-year. The average overall increase — 19% — is significantly higher than last year’s increase of 5%, in contrast to 2020’s decrease of 4%, but similar to 2019’s increase of 21%, according to a benchmark study from WordStream by LOCALiQ.

There’s building for the future — that is, doing the foundational work that will pay untold dividends down a strictly-sunny road — and then there’s planning for the future. Planning requires keeping the rainy-day forecast in mind and taking necessary precautions. And with the current concerns of a recession looming, those planning considerations are being revisited or reconsidered all over the globe in many industries

Lotame recently released findings from its ‘Beyond the Cookie: Next Generation Customer Acquisition & Retention for Marketers & Publishers’ report. This third report in the ‘Beyond the Cookie’ research series examines how marketers and publishers are addressing customer acquisition and retention in the runup to a post third-party cookie digital advertising landscape. Conducted in September 2022, the report polled over 1,400 respondents across seven global markets (U.S, UK, Mexico, Australia, Colombia, India and Singapore) to examine identity’s role in the cookieless future, how they are building a next-gen tech stack and their advertising investments today and in the future.

Readers are pruning the number of digital publications they subscribe to, according to a new study by Toolkits and National Research Group.  Of consumers polled, 29% plan to reduce the number of online subscriptions they hold by the end of the year, 16% significantly so. However, 27% expect to add to the number, and 44% will maintain their totals.

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The Media Minute 11.9.22

A report from Merkle is again shining a light on brands and marketers as they operate amidst ongoing privacy issues, though the surprising takeaway may just be the seemingly lack of concern some are showing. The Q4 2022 Performance Media Report surveyed 250 “marketing decision-makers” across a variety of industries to gauge their mood and methods. Of those, only 29% said they strongly agreed with the statement: I’m concerned about the impact of the cookieless future on my business

Google Topics, the newest entrant to the identity space, is the most popular solution when it comes to compliance with privacy regulations to identify and target consumers with ads. It’s actively used or tested by 71% of respondents to a recent Lotame study. The use of probabilistic or predictive solutions like Cohorts, contextual, authenticated email-based and Google Topics has grown 50% year-over-year (YoY), demonstrating a larger jump than any other identity category.

We’ve just returned from a week in Lisbon attending the Web Summit. We will be posting a number of in-depth features from the event in due course, but below are some key ‘front of mind’ takeaways. Bottom line: Publishers need to rebuild audience trust and micropayments could soon have their day in the sun. The publisher track featured presentations and panel interviews with a raft of publishers including Vice, Axios, Washington Post, TechCrunch, Teen Vogue, The Atlantic, Fast Company, and more. Here are five key front-of-mind takeaways.

Marketers have been riding a years-long roller coaster regarding new privacy laws and policies governing how they can use data to guide their campaigns and customer relationships. At every turn, they’ve received a constant piece of advice: to avoid disruption in third-party data availability, build first-party data assets.  While that’s good advice for many marketers, it’s also not enough. For most brands, third-party data is still a fundamental requirement for enriching and scaling the information they use for effective marketing, particularly acquisition efforts.

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The Media Minute 11.2.22

Google Ads Data Hub (ADH), a cloud measurement solution based on privacy, will become two separate dedicated platforms. The move will allow Google to build more tailored solutions on each to support the needs of two distinct types of customers. One will become Ads Data Hub for Measurement Partners. The other will become Ads Data Hub for Marketers. The features being developed for each will let Google provide the most value each market. It also will help marketers make the most of first-party data.

There are signs that publishers are cutting ad counts to protect reader data. In print, more advertisements generally mean more money. That legacy thinking has dominated digital publishing for a long time. But there are signs that publishers are cutting ad counts, rethinking their approach to optimal ad space in the age of first-party data.

As always, Google can cause chaos for publishers depending on the digital behemoth’s whims. This autumn was a whirlwind for publishers as Google released not one but three algorithm changes over the course of a month that affected content rankings, specifically of product reviews. It’s another example of how the tech giant can cause disruption for publishers that have built businesses around trying to take advantage of its algorithm to reach people.

Dynamic or intelligent paywalls have great potential and are being used by many publishers successfully. John Wilpers, author of FIPP’s annual Innovation in Media report called dynamic paywalls the “hottest new tool” that are helping publishers secure, “significant sustainable reader revenue.”  Dynamic paywalls use machine learning and artificial intelligence to adapt to users’ behavior and restrict access to content accordingly. They can automatically alter article limits and even deliver personalized subscription pitches based on readers’ consumption habits.

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The Media Minute 10.26.22

While analysts, pundits and media continue to focus on negative signals in what is expected to be a recession, “we’re still not there,” GroupM’s Brian Wieser points out in this week’s installment of the “This Week Next Week” podcast he co-hosts with Kate Scott-Dawkins, who added that while there are some negative signals coming out of recent big marketer earnings calls, “consumer balance sheets” remain “relatively healthy” and above pre-pandemic levels, and U.S. jobless claims are “still quite low.”

In a presentation at the World News Media Congress 2022 held in Zaragoza, WAN-IFRA’s Dean Roper gave an insight into the key trends that are emerging as part of the research into the forthcoming World Press Trends 2022-2023 report… Whilst the news industry is encountering strong headwinds, publishers are expecting significant growth in revenue in 2022, spurred on by investment in new revenue streams. Of these, publisher events are leading the way … and yet … advertising still remains king.

Ad spend continues to reflect tightening budgets and economic uncertainty, according to Standard Media Index’s September 2022 Core Data report, which found that ad spend was down 5% in September year-over-year (YoY), continuing a four-month downfall.  The report also found that ad spend by channel in the third quarter YoY is down 6%. Coinciding with the lows, major media companies including Disney, Comcast, Paramount Global, Meta and Google all saw revenue fall in September YoY.

The digital privacy landscape has shifted dramatically in recent years, forcing publishers to exist in a constant state of experimentation. Condé Nast (CN) has navigated these new contours of digital advertising while simultaneously reinventing itself for the modern era. Pamela Drucker Mann, global chief revenue officer at Condé Nast, joined Adweek’s senior media reporter Mark Stenberg at Publishing Week to discuss how the publishing giant has balanced the needs of brands with the privacy of readers through a multi-pronged approach.

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The Media Minute 10.19.22

It’s been just over a year since Apple implemented its much-discussed-about, much-fussed-about Mail Privacy Protection feature, and the initial first-year findings confirm many of the impacts that email marketers predicted. Apple’s intent was to provide iPhone iOS15 users who wished to opt-in with “even more transparency and control over the data users provide to apps.” To those third-party marketers, Apple’s feature would prevent them from knowing whether their emails had been opened by automatically impacting the open-rate and thus upending one of the most important metrics for email-marketing success.

Performance marketing inherently promises results—and practitioners rely on customer data to satisfy the expectations set. But the increasing restrictions around privacy has forced brands need to find alternatives to cookies and third-party data sources to build digital resilience and stay competitive in a privacy-first marketing ecosystem… Here’s how marketers can adapt to changing privacy regulations and develop digital resilience for a cookieless world.

Times of economic uncertainty can favor recurring revenue businesses, which appears to be playing out today, based on an analysis of SEI companies in the first half of 2022. Subscription Economy businesses continued to show resilience, growing at faster rates compared to the S&P 500 and U.S. retail sales. Churn also remained lower than pre-pandemic levels, demonstrating that these companies are retaining subscriber relationships at higher rates compared to before the pandemic.

Google officially unveiled PAIR (or Publisher Advertiser Identity Reconciliation), its latest option for publishers and advertisers using Display & Video 360 to “securely and privately reconcile their first-party data for audiences who have visited both an advertiser’s and a publisher’s site.” In contrast to the walking-dead phase-out that Google is giving third-party cookies, its PAIR processes would be founded upon first-party data, or information that customers have willingly agreed to share through their direct relationships as opposed to pooled data.

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The Media Minute 10.12.22

Despite rhetoric from advertisers about investing in first-party data as privacy laws erode traditional means of targeting — the reality is much more difficult, according to a recent survey on programmatic attitudes. “Whilst 2021 showed first-party data was the priority for advertisers, agencies, and publishers in 2021, this is now ranked third behind second-party data (the most popular priority averaging 57% with agencies leading at 60%) and third-party at 49%,” reads the report from IAB Europe.

Google now automatically pulls in relevant creative content from a company’s landing page, website, existing ads, and keywords in ad groups to complement the creation of responsive search ads (RSAs). The new setting — which is being tested with some advertisers but not all — gives Google the ability to automatically create additional advertising assets such as headers and descriptions.

Soft paywalls allow readers to experience the quality of your content and may over time inspire them to sign up for a paid subscription. Research done by American Press Institute’s Media Insights Project found that 47% of new subscribers signup after running out of free articles on a site they like and respect.  Metered paywalls are the most popular form of soft paywalls. They let readers access a set number of articles for free before requiring them to pay. Wired allows readers to consume four articles a month for free before asking them to subscribe for unlimited access.

An effective search optimization strategy means knowing who is targeting the same keywords and audiences. Effective SEO is all about getting as close to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) as possible. A key component of that optimization effort is researching the companies that compete with you, and a recent post from SEO experts MOZ points out two ways to assess competition for keywords, audiences and solving consumer needs.

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The Media Minute 10.5.22

Google shared greater detail on how it’s broadening search beyond the traditional text bar at its third annual Search On event Wednesday. Richer offerings related to visual, language and multimedia-based search are meant to create a “natural and intuitive” experience that’s more in line with the ways people actually think, executives said… Time will tell how much Google’s newfangled ideas stick, but the company owns a suite of products, from Maps to its Lens camera technology, that could be powerful when combined for search purposes. For marketers that have continued to prioritize text-based tactics, Search On could serve as a wake-up call.

With inflation rising, possible recessions looming and the ongoing situation in Ukraine, the short-term business sentiment in the news publishing industry has taken a downturn, according to the first results of WAN-IFRA’s global industry survey. That said, publishers have managed to adapt and innovate during the pandemic and those efforts will pay off in 2022 with markedly increased total revenue – critically, developing new revenue streams..

The future without third-party data is imminent… It is cause for concern, as third-party cookies are a rich source of information that have propped up digital revenue streams for years.  This transition, however, could spell disaster—if businesses don’t rethink their data collection strategy. That’s where server-side tagging comes in. A creative solution to data capture challenges, server-side tagging is a means of collecting valuable data without worrying about privacy concerns. Read on to find out everything you need to know about server-side tagging.

From the shift to online-only life in early 2020 to the frantic Googling for new hours, policies, and stock updates in the first phase of reopening, consumers turned to the internet and relied on it in new ways. Meanwhile, marketers have also been contending with the ever-impending demise of the cookie, as Google extended its deadline to 2024. This means that in an increasingly digital world, marketers can no longer rely on one of the primary tools that dominated conversations about personalization and customer experience over the past decade.  What else is certain is that digital adaptability and agility will be required for the long haul, especially in search — an essential way to stay relevant in the cookieless future.

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The Media Minute 9.28.22

When it comes to digital marketing, a landing page is different from your company’s home page. In fact, it’s different from your website in general. A landing page is a curated single web page with a form. A website has multiple goals, including lead nurturing and upselling products or services, but a landing page is mainly used for lead generation and conversion optimization. Its goal is to convert a high-quality website visitor into a lead by offering a gated promotional or informational offer… In its simplest terms, the goal of your website, even the home page, is to gain visitor traffic. The goal of your landing pages is to convert that traffic into leads and eventually customers.

SEO is vital for audience acquisition and paywalls help generate revenue. However, paywalls can also impact SEO. New report offers tips on how publishers can minimize the impact of paywalls on SEO. There is a lingering concern as more and more publishers put up paywalls for subscription revenues – will blocking content have a negative impact on SEO? There are no straightforward answers… The report, Paywalls & SEO: How to limit the impact of a wall on SEO, authored by Maxime Moné, Co-founder, Poool, addresses this issue. It looks into how publishers can minimize risks to SEO whether they are launching or are already working with paywalls.

As publishers continue to deal with the demise — or at least diminishment — of the third-party cookie, they are feeling compelled to adopt virtually every identity technology seeking to replace the cookie, but they are increasingly concerned about how overloading their sites with IDs will impact page-load speeds and search rankings, according to publishing executives who attended the Digiday Publishing Summit in Key Biscayne, Fla. “[Site] performance issues is death by a thousand paper cuts. Every single one of those adds up,” said a publishing executive during one of DPS’s closed-door sessions, in which publishers were granted anonymity in exchange for candor.

The CRM failure rate has been measured to be anywhere between 18% and 69% over the years. Even if you look past the bewildering gulf between those numbers, you have a technology that carries endless promise for all, yet still somehow fails one out of every five attempts. (And that’s the conservative, nice number!) So when there is a failure, should blame be put on the system? The users? Those who thrust it upon the users? The answer to those questions may not be simple, but the solutions to overcome the larger contributing issues are entirely too easy.

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The Media Minute 9.21.22

Anyone who’s ever created content marketing collateral knows to include internal and external links. This digital marketing best practice is in place because it lifts your content in search engine rankings. If you’re looking to improve your link-building strategy, take a look at how to create backlinks to your site, examples of a backlink, and more from Mirabel’s Marketing Manager.

This article works through one of the main objectives for digital publishers, namely optimizing the conversion funnel – attracting new audiences and moving these users through the funnel toward being a paying, profitable subscriber. It is about finding the balance between engagement and frustration that’s essential for high conversion rates. Too much frustration (caused by blocking content with a wall) and your user will turn away and find content elsewhere. Whilst leaving too much content open may well increase engagement but won’t monetize your content… Which is why we’re proposing an engagement funnel that finds the perfect slots to gradually convert your visitor into a consented lead, member and then subscriber.

As publishers pursue the critical goal of revenue diversification, competing KPIs have become a significant blocker — not only slowing the pursuit of revenue streams but also compromising the user experience. According to Digiday+ research, emerging revenue streams for publishers include programmatic advertising, events, affiliate commerce and selling products. The challenge is publishers are managing these diverse business initiatives in siloed departments, with limited optimization across organizations.

Ideally, a CRM should complete and streamline tasks in the natural environment you’re already comfortable working in, then have the fruits of that labor appear in the shared system for all team members to access.  When it comes to your long-term plans and day-to-day sanity, you can’t leave that connectivity (or lack thereof) to chance. Before choosing that CRM, take stock in these basic operating processes to see how your potential system should complement the tools you already have in place.

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