The Top 10 Media Trends Publishers Can't Ignore
Update: This article was originally published in September. We have since updated it with new information on publishers’ digital ad revenue.
At the FUSE technology summit, conference chair Jeffrey Litvack, who is also interim COO of Robb Report and a former group president at ALM, kicked off the event with a keynote address, “From Here to 2020. ” Litvack forecasted the new technologies and trends that will have the biggest impact on the media business in the years to come.
Litvack didn’t pull any punches during the keynote, opening the address with some sobering industry statistics. He reported that in the past year total magazine publisher revenue fell 4.5%. The digital ad dollars that publishers anticipated would offset print losses simply weren’t there. Litvack noted an even more alarming statistic: $7 out of every $10 spent on digital advertising goes to Facebook and Google. In light of these numbers, publishers have an uphill battle to grow digital revenue, making technological innovation more of an imperative than ever before.
Despite this bleak outlook, Litvack highlighted opportunities for publishers to grow and thrive as we approach 2020. He shared 10 media trends that publishers should recognize and translate into strategies for growth:
1. Content Consumption Goes Mobile
It’s well known that readers are increasingly accessing content via their mobile devices. “Almost two thirds of our visitors are coming from mobile devices to read our content,” said Litvack. “Where the eyeballs go, the dollars follow. Mobile spend is about to kick up to become the third largest ad category, behind desktop advertising and television ads.” And with better targeting technology and ad experiences, CPM rates for mobile ads will rise, predicted Litvack.
2. Media Consumption Is Happening Off Brand
63% of Americans find news on Facebook and Twitter, and social media has surpassed television as the most popular source of news. That means publishers’ audiences have migrated away from their sites and are more difficult to monetize than ever. Publishers need to find creative ways attract readers on a regular basis and monetize.
3. The Newsletter Is Becoming Publishers’ Most Important Product
Although fewer readers are coming to media sites for news, their engagement with email newsletters continues to rise. Litvack said that open rates and clickthrough rates are going up, making email one of the most important channels to cultivate an audience and drive revenue.
4. Programmatic Selling Is on the Rise & Will Completely Eclipse Direct
95% of advertisers are buying programmatically on MPA websites, and a large portion of those advertisers are buying programmatic only. To keep CPMs from trending down, publishers need to invest in ad targeting technology and provide positive ad experiences to readers, advised Litvack.
5. Media Companies Are Becoming Agencies
Publishers like Time Inc., Hearst, and Condé Nast have created studios separate from magazine editorial that are dedicated to creating native advertising. Advertisers increasingly want to work with publishers to develop creative campaigns, putting demands on publishers to develop new workflows to deliver native content, campaign reports, and high-quality service like an agency.
6. Video, Video, Video
Digital video already dominates the media space and will continue to do so over the next several years. Publishers need to develop workflows to quickly create and distribute video content. Video will help publishers engage readers on social media and on their mobile devices, where video consumption is flourishing, said Litvack.
7. Advertising Alone Won’t Support a Media Business
“If we want to see real growth for our industry, we can’t be ad supported alone,” said Litvack. He recommended publishers invest in events businesses, data businesses, and reinvent their revenue models to discover new opportunities.
8. Abundance of Content
Litvack said that it would take one person more than 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month in 2019. There’s a lot of digital content out there, and a lot of high quality digital content, so publishers can’t produce good content alone. “You have to look at the data and dig deeper into that data to justify what is the right story to write for your audience,” said Litvack.
9. Personalization Is Prime Time
Content personalization is now a reality and will become the dominant method of delivering content, said Litvack. 56% of websites and 67% of emails have some level of personalization. Publishers need to continue to integrate this technology into their platforms in order to meet consumers’ expectations.
10. There’s Gold in Your 1st Party Data
Behind many of these trends is the growing importance of first-party data that can drive publishers’ content, audience development, and monetization strategies. Litvack noted that first-party data is invaluable for ad targeting, content personalization, cross-platform identification, and audience extension. Without a unified database and robust analytics technology that can identify individual site visitors and track behavior, publishers cannot iterate and evolve for the future.