These 5 changes in media buying are changing the industry

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


The way buyers buy our media has changed.

In a post-COVID world, advertising predictions are really difficult to be totally confident about, as it is still not yet clear whether people will continue to shop online exclusively or rather go back to enjoying the shopping experience in busy city centres due to a return to “a kind of normality.”  

Nevertheless, there are five major trends that have emerged which, whilst having been with us for some time now, will continue to be (more) prevalent, irrespective of any current influences.  

Understanding these trends and then synching with our advertiser strategies will be key to our continued success in digital advertising. 

Those five trends are:

1. (Disruptive) online advertising is a contradiction 

Advertisers have been aware of this for years now. Customers should ideally not be concerned or bothered by ads, but instead they should believe they have had a good customer experience. However, the only way to creatively bring meaningful awareness is through some form of disruption. 

It’s true to say native ads and social media have set the course for a different understanding of digital advertising.

Time and time again, various industry surveys have shown us that relevance and context are the most important reasons for positive reactions to ads.  

With ads that are “too pushy,” advertisers run the risk of generating bad/negative connotations. Indeed, native ads, for instance, are also suitable for making products aware/known to customers — the crucial factors here being that algorithms and data, which optimise for specific targets are built to disrupt and force attention. Just being aware is forearmed. 

2. Alternatives to Facebook 

An analysis of the CTRs vs pricing of Facebook ads over recent years has shown the optimal performance of the platform was reached back in 2016. Ads then became more expensive and less frequently clicked on.

The reason? Engagement is now happening elsewhere, too. 

Facebook is no longer the only — or best — game in town for reaching customers.
Facebook is no longer the only — or best — game in town for reaching customers.

There is no longer just one platform that bonds all target groups. Instead, advertisers now have a more complex need to both diversify and develop more tailored content and, therefore, differing formats in a myriad of channels. 

COVID brought with it a mix of fake news, conspiracy theories, and less moderation, which ensured advertising on platforms remains challenging for many brands with a high demand for brand safety. Are you putting brand safety into your sales team’s consciousness? 

3. Purpose advertising” drives business 

Brands with a clear stance and commitment to sustainability and environmentalism are no longer the exception. This will continue to develop strongly in the coming years, in media companies amongst others. 

Brands can no longer avoid topics such as diversity and inclusion. According to eMarketer, inclusion is now a main factor for determining their brand loyalty for 61% of customers.

Media brands are now starting to include these progressive themes as part of their DNA to achieve their longer-term success. (See my last newsletter for more on this). 

4. No more exclusive bookings 

In the pre-digital age, advertisers booked specific verticals to reach their target audiences with us.  

For example, women could be reached through things like celebrity or fashion magazines, men through motor car and sport publications. That’s how stupidly simple and clichéd advertising worked. 

Finding your advertiser's target audience relies on first-party data to bring reader eyeballs instead of the old-school strategy of predictable verticals.
Finding your advertiser's target audience relies on first-party data to bring reader eyeballs instead of the old-school strategy of predictable verticals.

However in the digital space, the use of first-party data is now making that traditional media booking an extinct dinosaur. With automated/programmatic media booking, ads now find their target audiences across the net. 

Relevance to the user is now key. And it’s now a dialogue not a monologue. 

5. Never-ending feeds

The Internet is now organised by feeds. Not only do all social media platforms rely on the user experience but also feeds, where both ads and editorial content are embedded. They have become standard on the open Web. The aim, of course, is to give consumers more choice to increase the dwell time they spend on a Web site or a platform.

Feeds are increasingly becoming the OS of Web operators. 

Many users no longer reach article pages via the homepage but directly via social or via search. Giving them a wide range of topics is key to monetisation. Within these feeds, we will see more and more new formats in the future.

The point with the list of five above is to be aware of them. How we deal with our media buyers and are able to understand their world is critical to our future relationships with them —and ultimately how and who they buy their media from. It has huge implications for our future ad revenue.  

We need those buyers to trust us, just as they need their customers to trust them. 

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About Mark Challinor

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