The Media Minute 08.12.2020

2020 has been especially disastrous, with the impact of COVID-19 causing businesses of all kinds to drastically cut their advertising budgets. This — as has been exhaustively reported — led to what the Financial Times has called “carnage” for digital publishers, who are still reliant on advertising revenue. The results? Heavy staff layoffs, downsizing across the board, and vulnerable titles — particularly local media publications — closing shop altogether.

At a time of financial stress (with consumers having less money in their pockets), and an expanding subscription economy, not only is reducing churn a priority, publishers also want to find ways to super-serve their most loyal audiences. Here are four ways publishers can, and are, doing this during the coronavirus crisis.

Publishers have long fumed that platforms such as Google and Amazon tie their services and products together in ways that are anti-competitive. A pair of changes being rolled out to Apple’s operating systems has publishers lumping the device maker into that group as well.

The pending demise of cookie-tracking technology has stirred debate about how it may negatively affect advertising sales of publishers. A recent report on Wired’s website indicates the end of third-party cookies can be a good thing for digital ad revenue.

When the Covid-19 pandemic began to tighten its grip on the U.S. in early spring, most people in publishing were bracing for the worst. Indeed, sales reports from April and May were worrisome, but they began to improve in June. For three publishers that reported their financial results August 6 for the period ended June 30, 2020, sales were down from a year ago.

As a publisher, managing your ads.txt reduces bad actors’ ability to take advantage of your site. Those bad actors can be siphoning money from you via nefarious means, such as domain spoofing. Or they can be your partners, who use resellers to arbitrage your inventory and put more money in their pocket instead of yours.

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