Research Briefing: Small publishers worry less about measurement than larger publishers

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 →

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Welcome to the Digiday+ Research Briefing, your weekly curation of media and marketing research insights. Digiday+ members have access to the research below. 

In this edition, we share focal points from Digiday’s recently released report on how much smaller publishers worry about the death of the third-party cookie compared with larger ones, and from the second installment of our CMO Strategies series, which analyzes the retail media landscape and its role in marketers’ playbooks. 

Half of smaller publishers worry about measurement vs. 63% of large publishers

As the second half of the year sets in, the media industry remains worried about ad targeting and measurement without the third-party cookie, with large publishers taking on more worry than their smaller counterparts. That is according to a recent Digiday+ Research survey of over 70 publisher professionals. 

To be exact, 53% of publisher pros who work for large publishers (or those who made at least $50 million in revenue last year) said in Q2 2023 they agree somewhat or strongly that they worry about their ability to target ads without third-party cookies, down only very slightly from the 56% who said so last year. 

Meanwhile, 52% of publisher pros who work for small and medium-sized publishers (or those who made less than $50 million in revenue last year) said this year they agree somewhat or strongly that they worry about their ad targeting ability post-cookie, compared with 59% last year.

Key findings:

  • When it comes to measurement, large publishers worry more than smaller publishers. The percentage of large publishers who told Digiday they agree that they worry about their ability to measure ads without third-party cookies jumped from 54% in Q2 2022 to 63% in Q2 2023, while those who said they disagree fell from 35% to 23% over the same period.
  • On the other hand, the percentage of small and medium-sized publishers who said they agree that their ability to measure ads post-cookie is worrying decreased from 62% last year to exactly half (50%) this year, with the percentage of those who said they agree somewhat (as opposed to strongly) falling from 44% to 34% in the last year.

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CMO Strategies: How retail media has grown as a key marketing channel

This is the second installment of a multi-part series covering CMO strategies across marketing channels. The first report examined budget allocations across social media platforms. Keep an eye out for an upcoming report on display advertising.

Retail media’s popularity as a marketing channel has been increasing the last few years, as witnessed by recent ad tech, agency and marketer investments in the channel. PubMatic on Tuesday launched its commerce media offering. Last week, IPG formally threw its hat into the expanding ring that is the commerce media and retail media marketplace, by rolling out its Unified Retail Media Solution as a new unit within IPG Mediabrands.

Retailers themselves have begun expanding their investments in the channel too. More than one-third of marketers (38%) said they use retail media advertising, according to Digiday+ Research’s newly released second installment of our CMO Strategies series. That puts it just behind retailers’ use of display ads and social media. As more options become available to marketers and barriers of entry lower, retail media advertising is becoming a cornerstone in many marketers’ strategy playbooks.

Key findings:

  • The majority of marketer respondents said that they measure retail media success via commerce or sales rather than awareness metrics like impressions or engagement — 95% of marketers said commerce or sales was the primary measurement of success versus 12% and 5% for impressions and engagement.
  • Cost of media is the biggest challenge facing retail media, with 92% of survey respondents saying cost of media was their largest concern — also a common concern for marketers across other channels.

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Research Rewind: How marketers’ social platform budgets stack up — from Instagram to TikTok

This is the first installment of our multi-part series covering CMO strategies across marketing channels. The second installment (above) examined how retail media has grown as a key marketing channel. Our next report will cover display advertising.

Marketing channels have had a turbulent time in recent years, from shifts in privacy regulations to an increase in marketing costs and the impact of macro-economics on marketing spend. As marketers continue to face roadblocks in their efforts to keep their brands at the top of consumers’ minds, Digiday+ Research has analyzed strategies and challenges across leading marketing channels to identify key trends and best practices.

When assessing marketers’ social media platform budget allocations year over year, Digiday+ Research found that Instagram and Facebook received the majority of budgets in both 2022 and 2023. Additionally, TikTok outpaced YouTube in 2023 for marketing budget allocation.

Key findings:

  • Social platforms that took the top spots for budget allocation in 2023 were those that have feeds where ads are much more common — Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. TikTok was the only exception. Despite its nascency, TikTok has quickly become a favorite among marketers, even outpacing Google-owned YouTube.
  • Twitter, Reddit and Snapchat fell toward the lower end of marketers’ budgets. Rather than hosting higher quality influencer or professional content, these platforms give users the ability to interact consumer to consumer. Brands typically use the platforms as an opportunity to educate or engage consumers rather than to advertise to them.

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