As Programmatic Rises, Direct-Sold Ad Revenue Declines For Publishers

Direct-sold ad revenue has fallen for publishers over the past year in favor of programmatic, according to a study by marketing platform LiveIntent.  

Programmatic revenue grew by over 105% in the automotive sector as demand for cars was accelerated by the decline in public transportation use. Education newsletters were next, with 75% growth, a reflection of the struggle by parents to cope with school closures and full-time care at home.

Take the case of Likemind, a web publisher focused on learning. 

“Email revenue has traditionally been driven primarily by 1:1 relationships with advertisers and will continue to be a primary focus for us,” states Peter Chang, CRO of Likemind, an email and web publisher focused on learning. 



But Chang adds “as advertisers have leaned into their CRM databases, we have seen an increase in email revenue driven by programmatic buys as part of larger campaigns by smart advertisers that understand performance and measurement.”

The study is based on activity during the period by LiveIntent’s 2,500 publishing and advertising clients.

Overall, food-and-drink newsletters saw a 60% YoY gross revenue increase, largely driven by home ordering during the pandemic and the switch of ad dollars to inventory in this category. 

More market dollars went to direct to consumer (DTC) goods during the past year, because the pandemic forced people to stay at home, the study notes. This also accounts for 4.42% growth in arts-and-entertainment newsletters.

“It’s no surprise that publishers are reaping the rewards of programmatic spend, and this is just the beginning,” adds LiveIntent CMO Kerel Cooper. “Advertisers want campaigns that are measurable, targetable and have incremental reach outside of the walled gardens. That is the email newsletter ecosystem to a tee.”

Cooper adds that “as the third-party cookie apocalypse makes logged-in and measurable targeting more scarce, the value of ads in email will only continue to rise.” 

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