Given the dynamic nature of the ad tech business, it might be necessary to keep our fingers on the pulse of this fast-changing industry. As Brightcom’s VP of Business Development, I repeatedly see the very same issues come up during conversations with our supply partners and pubs. The following are all worth considering, especially as we are midway through Q4, busy preparing winning strategies for 2019/20.
- Video will remain a challenge.
The sharp (yet very steady) decline of banner dollars over the years has left pubs feeling increased pressure to provide more revenues from native and video channels. Despite Video formats becoming a larger part of ad spending, many pubs don’t feel its impact on their bottom line. In fact, pubs have been struggling to meet their video revenue targets through 2018. This has to do with various reasons, such as ad quality, latency issues and mobile-related malfunctions. In addition, despite a decrease in video production costs, video content is still rather expensive, and pubs feel cornered into either producing their own video content or syndicating it from other pubs at a cost-plus model.
- Publishers will keep expanding their roles to include in-house video production, with unclear returns.
Not only do in-house video production costs remain rather high, the immediate effect on ROI remains unclear. Yet, more pubs feel pushed into producing video content and monetizing it to increase their bottom lines. By doing so, pubs often end up competing against their fellow agency partners on the production and creative side. While medium to large-sized pubs have better positioned themselves in that sense, smaller long-tail media outlets are still struggling with this challenge. At a macro glance, it’s too soon to tell if this is a positive trend or if it will have unintended consequences.
- Media owners will think outside the box to capitalize on their brand equity and data.
More and more publishers find that current revenue streams (Display, Content Marketing, Native, etc…) might generate a negative ROI, partly due to the FB/Google duopoly and to ongoing programmatic channels. As a result, pubs now feel squeezed to think outside the box to accelerate incremental revenue streams: As one of our leading clients recently noted: “Even after we took control of ad auctions using header bidding tactics, still monetization dimes are hard.”
Other initiatives that pubs have been considering through 2018 are:
- Onboard and develop subscription models
- Applying paywalls for premium content
- Email marketing (to create more monetizable assets as well as to convey brand message to targeted audiences)
- Offline event productions
- Display will continue to gain relevance.
While Display advertising is definitely here to stay, it has been undergoing fierce consolidation. The leading reasons to monetize Display through 2019 will be to sustain ad quality, offer a better user experience and, above all, provide a decent fill ratio on the selling side. In addition, in most cases, Display ads will help cope with mobile challenges, like low viewability ratios and very low eCPMs across the board.
On the flip side, Ad buyers, from their angle, will be looking after long-term relationships with pubs and app developers (i.e., those who will be able to best monitor their traffic at scale).
- There’s room on the playground for both Header Bidding and Tag Integration.
It appears that what used to be old is new again. Vendors like Brightcom, which kept the old-style JS Tag Integrations (in parallel with Header Bidding auction technologies), are now seeing that there is increasing room for both, as far as leading (and savvy) pubs are concerned.
- Impressions that are sold via JS Tags are often sold at 100% fill rate guaranteed. Unlike Header Bidding solutions, which don’t buy all ad traffic, Brightcom’s JS Tags buy 100% of the inventory and take the risk out of the equation.
- JS Tags (on server and/or directly on page) have proven to deliver a better solution for remnant/ un-monetized traffic.
- – JS Tags usually require simple integration via DFP with very little technology touch required.
The monetization challenge will remain fierce during 2019 while Display, Video and Native Advertising will keep being the leading revenue generators. Meanwhile, various integration types will be sharing the stage, and pubs will have to think outside the box to find their way in this increasingly competitive world.