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2018 publishing and advertising predictions

This year has seen some seismic shifts in the publishing and advertising industries as major issues such as transparency and brand safety have taken centre stage. Next year is shaping up to be no different, as the industry looks ahead to key issues which will dominate the news agenda over the next 12 months and beyond.

We’ve rounded up key predictions from leading industry figures who detail what 2018 might have in store, from more emphasis on transparency to the impact of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the ongoing development of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies for publishers, and why models such as subscriptions, content bundling and native advertising will become more prominent.

Ben Barokas, CEO and Co-founder, Sourcepoint

“One trend we’ve seen in 2017, and anticipate continuing into 2018, is publishers working to find new ways of positioning subscriptions and approaching content bundling.

“Examples of this in practice include how the New York Times – which now receives more revenue from digital subscribers than print advertising – grouped its digital subscription offering with Spotify access for a weekly payment of $5 a week. And how a six-month digital subscription to the Washington Post – bought by Amazon’s founder in 2013 – was offered to users that pay for Amazon Prime’s delivery and streaming service, contributing to the publisher’s digital audience increasing to over 95 million US readers.

“We’re interested to see how this refreshed approach to content bundling will develop and help support publishers’ content development plans.”

Lindsay McEwan, Vice President and Managing Director, EMEA, Tealium

“Next year will see the fourth industrial revolution beginning to materialise. After years in development, once-futuristic technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will start to have a real impact on customer experience – and data will prove to be the catalyst for digital transformation.

“Users move seamlessly between multiple screens and expect brands to do the same, and this will only increase – therefore maintaining control of data is crucial. Digital transformation offers the opportunity to utilise high volumes of data to improve the customer experience by making every interaction personal, relevant, engaging and seamless. As such, companies will continue to look to a consumer-centric approach to drive business decisions forward.”

Andy Evans, CMO, Sovrn

“It’s more than 23 years since the first banner ad appeared online. At 23, I was still finding my way in the world, I made mistakes and had moments of greatness. Our industry is no different, it’s still maturing and finding its way. 2018 is going to take us a giant step towards maturity, the ongoing conversations around viewability and brand safety are not going away, but initiatives like ads.txt, the coalition for better ads, and organisations like DigiTrust are all helping to drive things in the right direction.

“GDPR will hit in May 2018 and with just seven months left to be ready, many within the industry are only just learning about the implications. People are spending more time online across a wider array of devices and are becoming smarter at consuming online content. Consumers are hungry for real content and will be looking for ways to cut out fake news and time-wasting content by seeking out better quality content providers and starting to pay to access the best content.

2018 will continue to deliver opportunity; we all need to think about building interactive audio relationships via Amazon Echo, Google Home and other voice controlled devices, and how virtual reality devices like Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR and augmented reality via the latest generation of iPhones will affect the way we communicate brand messaging to our audiences in new and innovative ways.”

Alex McIlvenny, UK Country Manager, Ligatus  

“Native advertising has rapidly gained momentum this year, and will continue to do so in 2018. With native ad spend expected to reach more than €13 billion across Europe by 2020, it is safe to say it is no longer just a buzzword, but an essential part of the marketing mix that is finally getting the recognition it deserves from the industry.

“As publishers look to focus on brand safety, transparency, and the user experience, I expect we will see more of a migration to native as developments in creative technology bring more flexibility. By harnessing the capabilities of programmatic, the scale and efficiency of this flourishing format will be a force to be reckoned with.”

Andrew Buckman, Managing Director, EMEA, Sublime Skinz

“Next year will see a real push for transparency – following the spotlight on brand safety we saw in early 2017. Publishers and brands will be driving the need for a clearer understanding on costs – raising concerns amongst intermediaries that investments ensuring quality and brand safety, will be undervalued when negotiating their operating margins.

“In a similar vein, publishers and advertisers will seek to take back more control through increased spend in Private Marketplaces versus the open exchange.

“Context will be just as important as audience. Creative programmatic will provide brands with more opportunities to build relationships with consumers in a way that achieves the reach and environment to generate the best engagement. This is also indicative of a shift away from click-through rate in favour of brand recall, time spent, and other engagement metrics.”

Richard Kidd, VP head of business development, EMEA, OpenX

“This year, we’ve seen concerns around trust and transparency in programmatic advertising dominate the agenda. With one third of CMOs avoiding programmatic because of mistrust and confusion – according to a recent CMO Council study – the industry will be looking at how it can come together to establish and enforce transparency.

“Buyers and sellers will demand increasingly higher quality standards from partners. As such, any providers still operating behind opaque processes or lacking the necessary investment in fraud and ad quality protections, may struggle to maintain relevance in the marketplace especially as the leaders in quality pull further ahead. The need for radical transparency is most apparent now in the case of auction mechanics, but will continue to grow in other areas where the industry has long seen challenges in being open and transparent – fees, fraud, rebates, etc.

To ensure the continued growth of programmatic advertising, trust must be restored. I’m confident 2018 will be the year programmatic ‘cleans up’ – growing far beyond the $ 45 billion market we see today – and all sides of the ecosystem will reap the rewards.”