The Future of Online Publishers: Three Key Trends

Last month, a spotlight presentation at the iMedia Brand Summithighlighted a programmatic success story, which got me thinking about the future of online publishers. New measurement techniques and technologies have emerged that are changing the way the online display advertising and search markets work for both advertisers and publishers. Let’s take a closer look at this changing playing field and what it means for publishers.

Brands are organizing around omnichannel strategies. As brands continue to focus on their omnichannel strategy development, one of the biggest challenges they face is connecting customer interactions across all channels, from online to offline, across email, social, web and mobile. The purpose of omnichannel marketing is to deliver personalized, contextually relevant experiences across every channel and device through which a person interacts with a brand.

For publishers, supporting omnichannel strategies means being able to provide marketers with a comprehensive, holistic view of advertising touchpoints delivered per individual, whether it occurs on a website, social network, mobile device or any combination thereof.

Moreover, publishers can further increase the value of their inventory by fine-tuning the way their content is delivered across channels, and by creating more innovative options for advertisers to choose from, such as delivering creative on emerging channels, providing time of day/day of week packaging, creating messaging continuity across devices and delivering cross channel analytics to attract higher advertising spends.

Cross-channel measurement has evolved. Advertisers are becoming much more savvy about how they measure and optimize digital performance. Marketers are increasingly shying away from upper-funnel metrics that fail to demonstrate accountability, such as impressions and clicks, and instead looking towards lower-funnel metrics, such as conversions and revenue.

As advertisers increasingly demand more sophisticated, accurate, bottom-of-the-funnel metrics to assess performance, publishers that sell inventory on a direct basis will need to step up their analytics offering to show the measurable impact they are delivering. By providing audience-level analytics, engagement metrics, the ability to integrate with advertisers’ cross channel attribution systems and a provision for advertisers to scale up their spends in real-time based on performance, publishers and ad networks will truly differentiate themselves and be better positioned to attract more advertising dollars.

Investment in DSPs and RTBs is on the rise. In addition to buying directly from publishers, marketers are increasingly relying on demand-side platforms (DSPs) and real-time bidding (RTB) tools to manage and optimize their search and display advertising. Programmatic buying companies like Criteo and Rocket Fuel are providing enhanced value to advertisers by providing deeper audience intelligence and replacing last-click conversion data with far more useful, fractionally attributed metrics that advertisers want to optimize for, like revenue and conversions.

In order to make their businesses successful in a DSP and RTB-enabled world, publishers must move beyond traditional impressions and clicks and provide advertisers with progressively more useful and insightful audience data, analytics and optimization. Since the true differentiation in programmatic buying is efficiency in audience segmentation, the game is no longer about the volume of visits a publisher-website offers, but the quality of interaction and the measurable impact generated for the brands that advertise with them.

The online advertising ecosystem is evolving—and fast. Now is not the time for publishers to be complacent. Instead, they must innovate and respond to evolving advertiser requirements.

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1 comment about "The Future of Online Publishers: Three Key Trends ".
  1. Bob Gordon from The Auto Channel , March 27, 2014 at 9:55 a.m.
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