Five Key Trends That Could Save Publishing

When you are in the middle of a disruptive time in history, it’s sometimes difficult to maintain perspective. The publisher ecosystem is right in the middle of such a time. It has already converted to digital, but it hasn’t quite figured out its monetization models or how to reach new generations of readers and viewers effectively.

Village Voice Media thought it had this knocked when it converted its Backpage personal classifieds to digital early on. However, the controversy about the content of those ads has given the publishers new heartaches (and plenty of legal expenses). They have a 40-year history of investigative journalism. How do they support it now?

Publishers have got to keep constantly changing their monetization models to keep up with digital technology. Here are five key trends on the horizon that could save not only the publishers, but the brands that rely on them to reach audiences.

  1. Banner ads will decline in effectiveness and advertisers will instead rely on videos that run on the web. The decline of banners has already happened. Click-through rates have dropped from .063 in 2009 to .01 in 2011. And they’re only going to go further down, which has reduced all banner ads to commodities. But the videos now running as pre-roll still look too much like traditional TV commercials for the new medium.
  2. These videos will have to become increasingly become informational or entertaining, rather than sell hard. That’s because new tech-savvy consumers can choose not to view them if they’re not worth seeing. Ordinary TV advertising has suffered from Tivo and other on-demand and time shifted viewing habits. The new video commercials had best look more like high end superbowl ads. Infomercials, or performance-based ads, must give way to brand advertising.
  3. Consumers shopping for something will actively search for and watch these new types of informative commercials, so the line between content and advertising will become blurred. Brands will move more and more to “content marketing,” in which they generate actual content rather than mere “commercials.” This is called “owned media” in the new parlance.
  4. The mobile device, not the TV, will be the primary way that brand advertisers reach their audiences. Even if the content is streamed to the TV set, the place it originates will be the tablet. The tablet is the new set-top box, although cable providers don’t know it yet. News consumption on tablets goes up on a monthly basis, and mobile devices increasingly accompany consumers into the bedroom.
  5. Publishers who have to make money for high quality content will become more comfortable asking or even demanding that users watch high quality TV ads in return for getting access to content. The stats in favor of this new behavior are very compelling:

Some 60% prefer 15-second to 30-second ads over a monthly subscription or the pay-per-view model for short-form video. Forty-four percent feel the same way when it comes to streaming TV shows.

Data also shows that nearly 90% of connected TV users notice ads on the digital platform, with the majority of pre-roll ads – 57% – noticed by users. Nearly 70% of connected TV users are likely to interact with a relevant ad, and nearly 20% purchased the product mentioned in the ad. (Read more:

All of this is encouraging for publishers if they put the information to use.
The past year of working with ZEDO, a large global ad tech company, has introduced me to many new techniques to modernize the advertising and publishing ecosystem. Unfortunately, some of these new ad formats aren’t being adopted fast enough to save some old-line publishers.


Now read this

What’s Good About Social Media?

We’re all pretty much in agreement that social media has been commandeered by marketers, and that brands now have the upper hand. I’ve got promoted Tweets in my stream, invitations to join brand communities on G+, and special offers from... Continue →