Over 150 publishers gathered at the Digiday Publishing Summit Europe in Barcelona, Spain, this week to discuss the most pressing challenges facing digital media. Among them: the power struggle between platforms, fighting for transparency in ad tech and looming European data privacy regulations.
During working groups and publisher-only town hall sessions, which operate under the Chatham House Rule, delegates debated their core concerns. Here are some of the comments that got our attention.
On platform problems:
“Facebook Watch seems like a PR move given viewership is so low.”
“Netflix is great for branding, but you’ll spend up to 18 months negotiating for a small return and then Netflix owns it. That’s a deal with the devil. It’s more important for publishers to create video on their platform and then syndicate it out.”
“With Apple News and Flipboard, it’s about getting into the organization and having a good account manager. We have a good partnership but they still can’t feature us every week. We have spikes in traffic but it’s hard to know why.”
“When it comes to Apple News, we’re talking pennies in terms of our ability to monetize.”
“Instagram makes 20 percent of our branded content revenue. Swipe up didn’t translate well, but linking in the bio drives 10 percent of our site traffic. But then engagement on Instagram decreases. The content that’s engaging is different from the content that’s driving traffic.”
“The CPMs on Facebook Audience Network have stifled innovation. Publishers must chase direct campaigns.”
“Google has been an increasing driver of subscription orders. We’ve seen huge spikes that rise with the news cycle.”
On transparency in digital advertising:
“You never get what you need from vendors. One of the big issues is common reporting. What an impression is different to everyone. There are different levels of reporting. Some are granular, some say this is what you did last week. You choose to work with those who can help you.”
“The quality of vendor data is shocking. And some are two, three days out of date. How can you make any decisions off the back of that?”
“If you don’t come forward and make a proclamation about bad actors, it will continue. You have to take a stand against fraud and be public about it.”
“There are not enough qualitative elements to the way marketers target ads. It’s very mechanical. Advertising has become too standardized. When we first started selling digital ads 10 years ago it was a lot more creative. The measurement needs to change. Otherwise, it’s just something that’s made for the platforms. It’s a fine line between being too creative and the reader feeling bothered by what they’re seeing and turning ad blockers on.”
On data privacy:
“EPrivacy is a big concern for European publishers. The big question is not about consent, it’s about whether it will happen at the browser level. At the browser level, publishers feel like they lose control. There’s a lot of lobbying. There will be a lot of pressure on politicians.”
“If you haven’t already, you need to clean up the tags on your site. If your company is being cheap and using free products provided by vendors, that is leaking data, you need to stop it as you’re violating GDPR.”
“For most publishers, the only way to make money from video is branded content.”
“The more branded content we have to make, the less time we have to create original editorial video content. That’s a challenge.”
“Video is trending down in terms of revenue, yet consumption is up.”
On user targeting:
“It’s really tough for editorial teams to get the right balance between art and science when it comes to identifying readers’ real interests.”
“It’s a real struggle to benchmark return on investment. It’s different depending on the revenue stream.”
“Every department in the company has a different way of defining the lifetime of a customer.”
“It’s so challenging to target users across different media brands within the same portfolio. Trying to get a single sign-on across those brands is hard.”
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