Study: Publishers See Global Economy As Biggest Future Challenge

Publishers rate the global economy, not the decline of display advertising, as their biggest future threat, according to "The Future of Publishing," a study by Akamai.

Rated on a scale of one to 10, publishing executives see these issues as the biggest challenges to their success going forward:

Global recession/depression—7.3

Continued dominance of tech platforms in advertising—6.9

Competition from the media companies—5.2

Collapse of market for display ads—4.9

Competition from VC-funded start-ups that can lose money—3.7 

In addition, using the same rating scale, they see data as their biggest revenue opportunity, based on a small number of write-ins: 



Digital subscriptions or membership models—7.6



Branded content or ad creation (studio models)—7.4

Digital commerce affiliate deals—6.7

Video advertising (pre-roll, outstream)—6.3


Direct digital commerce—5.3

The study does not describe its methodology except to say that it is based on a qualitative survey of publishing executives.  It is not clear if the survey can be applied to the entire publishing universe. 

That said, here is how they see the display advertising market over the next two to three years relative to its pre-COVID-19 position. The respondents expect it to:

Significantly improve—7%

Slightly improve—20%

Stay about the same—12%

Slightly deteriorate—52%

Significantly deteriorate—7% 


However, they have a much more optimistic outlook about their own advertising revenue compared to the overall industry. They say it will:

Significantly improve—44%

Slightly improve—50%

Stay about the same—6%

Slightly deteriorate—0%

Significantly deteriorate—0% 


In terms of future revenue models, they agree with the following, one a scale of 0 (disagree) to 1 (agree): 


For most consumer publishers, a hybrid model involving ads, ad-lite, and subscriptions is likely to be the optimal strategy—0.97

Digital subscription services will only work for a small number of content verticals (e.g.,, business, finance, politics)—0.47

Digital advertising will steadily decline as a source of income for most consumer publishers during the 2020s—0.41

Multi-title aggregators like Apple News+ will be a major new source of revenue for consumers in the 2020s—0.30
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