Many publishers’ digital revenues have been on an upward swing in recent years — but it’s not enough to fill the gaps left by print. According to eMarketer, global digital ad spending in 2015 is expected to reach US$170.17bn. Global mobile ad spending globally should hit $69bn this year.
That sounds like good news. But there are plenty of caveats for publishers: In 2014, Google, Facebook, AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo accounted for 61 per cent of total digital ad revenue in the US, according to Pew’s annual State of the Media report.
And this year, publishers are confronted by new obstacles: The rise of ad blocking on mobile and the specter of fraud brought on by bot traffic. With the rise of automated ad sales, some media companies are trying to build their own custom ad tech.
Factor in platforms like Apple, Facebook, and Snapchat hosting news — and offering to sell ads, minus their own cut — and it can feel as if publishers are trying to thread an increasingly smaller needle.
I asked several publishers what’s working for them in digital advertising in this uncertain environment. What types of formats are performing well? How is that a change from recent history? Do they have any plans to counteract ad blockers?
Now that many companies are creating branded/sponsored/native offerings, the hunt for America’s Next Top Advertising Model has moved to formats like video, podcasts, and newsletters. For many, mobile remains an elusive goal — and, as Mary Meeker’s annual slide deck shows, a tantalising opportunity.
I spoke with executives from Slate, The New York Times, Vox Media, The Atlantic, Mashable, The Seattle Times, Newsweek, and Wired. Their thoughts on digital advertising are below, slightly edited for length and clarity.
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