Behind closed doors at DPSE: Publishers’ 5 biggest headaches

By Yoav Naveh, CEO, ConvertMedia

At this month’s Digiday Publishing Summit in Barcelona, Digiday and ConvertMedia gathered some of the brightest minds in publishing, put them behind closed doors, and let them have an honest and open conversation about what they’re dealing with these days. The most common topics of concern were mobile, ad blockers and load times.

Here’s what publishers are tackling in 2015.

Publishers are struggling to build dedicated mobile experiences

Few publishers are producing dedicated mobile products, instead attempting to directly translate their desktop products in an effort to present a unified experience. But publishers who are escaping that box and creating original, mobile-only versions of their content are finding success. Some agreed that The Economist had taken an innovative approach by building an app called The Economist Espresso, which offers a pared-down collection of the day’s most important stories — and nothing else.

The fight against ad blocking is just getting started

Some are taking the targeted approach, checking browsers for ad blocking extensions and displaying warning messages to those who use ad blockers. Reddit and Wired have taken to politely requesting that readers whitelist their domains in the spaces that would otherwise serve ads. Others, including The Washington Post and The Atlantic, are outright blocking the blockers from viewing their content. Some publishers are even packaging their blocked audience segments and selling them to advertisers, finding a way to make money off the people who are preventing them from making money.

Mobile isn’t a haven from ad blockers

While mobile was once relatively untouched by the ad blockalypse, Apple’s commitment to supporting ad blockers in iOS 9 and the appearance of new ad blockers that can even block in-app ads have rapidly made it clear that mobile is by no means an ad sanctuary. Users may be driven to install mobile ad blockers for the same reasons they install blockers on desktop, including privacy concerns and lethargic load times. In order to combat the use of ad blockers, publishers need to be proactive in providing a positive user experience on mobile and desktop that is in line with the content they have generated.

It’s up to tech to fix page load times

The load time issue will prove even more severe on mobile due to network speed limitations, user-side data caps, and the desire for immediacy when using mobile devices. If a mobile ad doesn’t load, or if it slows down a page and users bounce away, it clearly can’t be monetized. So publishers have put the onus on DSPs and SSPs to clean up their platforms and reduce their digital footprints to cut load times as much as possible.

HTML5 will increase video adoption on mobile and desktop

Demand for premium video ads has outpaced supply. Publishers hope that the death of Flash and the adoption of new video standards like HTML5 will reduce the burden of heavy video assets, but the agency side has been slow to make the transition. The future of video will rely on increased mobile adoption, which will drive the industry toward HTML5 on desktop more quickly. Publishers will also benefit from the growth of out-stream video, which provides an entirely new source of video supply and revenue on both mobile and desktop.

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