Digiday Research Report: The state of publisher-platform relations

This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

For publishers, managing their resource allocation and output on platforms has become a difficult game. Even as more publishers seek to make more money directly, whether, through more subscriptions or direct-sold ads, many are still reliant on platforms to build audiences.

In our fall research report, we surveyed 136 publishing execs to see how they’re using platforms and made recommendations for how publishers can evolve their platform strategies heading into 2020.

Survey respondents were selected from Digiday Research’s proprietary panel, made up of thousands of executives and decision-makers across the media and marketing industries.

Nearly every publisher posts to digital platforms.
Social and news platforms have burned publishers before. But most publishers, reliant on advertising and subscription revenues, still need platforms to drive users to their content. In fact, 92% of publishers — including every large publisher we surveyed — post at least some content to digital platforms. The most popular: Facebook News Feed, Instagram, and Google AMP.

But platform ROI remains elusive.
Publishers may post to digital platforms, but that doesn’t mean their efforts generate revenue. Barely half of the publishers who post to platforms say they’re happy with any platform partner, and publishers say the ROI on some key platforms is getting worse rather than better. Large publishers, who use digital platforms most aggressively, also reported the lowest platform ROI.

In 2020, optimize your platform investments.
Test different strategies on different platforms to find which combinations work best for you — and which platforms simply aren’t worth your time. And don’t overlook “tier 2” platforms; some publishers report that small platforms can deliver big results.


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