What is the future of publisher monetisation?

Navigating the fractured and fast-changing digital landscape will be key to publisher profit in 2021

What is the future of publisher monetisation?

In a highlight of the recent Campaign Publishing Summit, PubMatic’s Jacqueline Boakye and Mail Metro Media’s executive director of digital, Hannah Buitekant, met to discuss the solutions.

At the end of a year when every industry has seen its norms disrupted, the old rules of publisher monetisation are in a particular state of flux. With time running out for the third-party cookie, media consumption habits on the march, data regulations shifting and the dance between buyer and seller moving to a new beat, there has never been a better time to pull together the bewildering strands of the debate. At the Campaign Publishing Summit on December 9th, a fireside chat hosted by PubMatic addressed the -important issues that will drive digital publishers’ decision-making in 2021.  

Taking the pulse of the digital sector since 2006, PubMatic’s experts have a unique grasp of the monetisation challenges facing online publishers, and as the host of the fireside chat, the company’s regional VP and customer success EMEA, Jacqueline Boakye (pictured right), invited Mail Metro Media’s Executive Director of Digital, Hannah Buitekant, to examine them. 

The meeting opened with an exploration of changing trends across the digital landscape, with Buitekant noting the spike of podcasts and audio streaming. She explained that Mail Metro Media currently has audio modules in test phase on its pages, and reminded us of DMG Venture’s, the venture capital arm of Daily Mail and General Trust, recent investment in the Entale AI-driven podcast app: providing Mail Metro Media with new opportunities to create bespoke solutions for its clients. “Podcasts and audio streaming have grown exponentially. Traditional publishers are now pushing content onto audio platforms. The industry has adapted to enable buyers to purchase from a single point, with DSPs offering digital/audio and out of home inventory.”

The evolving power of data was also a key topic, with Buitekant (pictured left) stressing that scraping context from a URL was just the start. “There’s so much more we’re exploring now. What we know is that a publisher can categorise based on full semantic meaning, plus emotion and sentiment – and whilst very important, it is just the start. Relying on blunt targeting tools using keywords and URL scraping – they’ve really yet to evolve and we want to move forward outside of those limitations. Data is becoming a more important commodity than ever.”  

At the heart of the virtual meeting, meanwhile, was the impending demise of the third-party cookie. Buitekant pointed out that while sellers have already grasped the implications, they must ensure these are understood across the wider sector to avoid a repeat of the damage done to Safari by Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) technology. “We need to focus on a broader education across the market to ensure buyers, sellers and ad tech understand how much of a shift this creates. Being able to buy audiences is one thing, but actually this change removes frequency capping, cross site caps, measurement, deduplication, attribution from a web commerce which is exploding right now. 

“We can’t let what happened in Safari happen to Chrome,” stressed Buitekant. “Publishers are not walled gardens. We are able to obtain data from users using active consent and what we’re trying to do is enable transparent workflows, with our advertising partners, to improve methods of targeting. Which can be enabled at scale. It has to be scalable.”

While Google plans to stop supporting third-party cookies in 2021, Buitekant suggested that a holistic approach to a replacement could fill the gap. “Cookies won’t be replaced with one thing. We’re approaching it with an aim to be completely agnostic with technology and multiple partners. One partner may be great for bespoke, niche segment targeted activity, and another good for scale and frequency capping. So we really need to test and learn and most importantly, be agile. This ranges from bid stream enrichment, to shared IDs and publisher IDs, right through to clean rooms and bunkers.”

Above all, concluded Buitekant, successful monetisation comes down to direct and open communications between buyer and seller. This would not only build trust, but improve inventory quality and targeting. “I really hope advertisers will adapt with us and there will be more consultation between the buy and sell side, to ensure buyers are accessing the inventory they want, and at scale, and they can do it without having to rely on ad tech to choose delivery mechanics for them. As for [alternatives to] cookies, we’re exploring possible solutions with everyone we can and throughout the process we’ll share the learnings along the way.”

Learn more about PubMatic’s services here.  


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