Preparing for the digital advertising future depends on understanding not only how technology and formats are changing but how consumer expectations have evolved, too.
And things have changed quite a bit in the past decade.
“There are hundreds of formats, new technology, and channels like programmatic sophisticated data and targeting. And pretty much every business is buying digital,” Carolyn Luey, chief digital and publishing officer at NZME, told attendees at last week’s INMA Asia/Pacific News Media Summit, sponsored by Google News Initiative, Notix, Piano, and Protecmedia. “We work in a constantly evolving digital ecosystem where the growth continues to accelerate.”
Luey and Wahyu Dhyatmika, CEO of Indonesia’s Tempo Digital, shared a look at how their news media companies are preparing for the future of digital advertising.
NZME addresses changing ad environment
Luey shared five key trends she believes will shape the future of digital advertising:
- The deprecation of cookies. “This is likely to lead to lower yield for publishers and reduced ROI for advertisers. The path forward is still unclear,” she said.
- New competitors entering the ecosystem. The diversification of competitors means more places for advertisers to spend their money. She pointed to companies such as Cartology and Uber Out-of-Home cartop advertising opportunities as being among the new advertising disruptors.
- The continued rise of audio. Digital audio continues its rapid growth, driven in part by smart speakers. “This trend has big implications for digital advertising, which has traditionally been a visual medium of display or video,” Luey noted. “Audio is completely different, demanding a different approach to creative and placement.”
- The rapid growth of the metaverse. A recent McKinsey report revealed 59% of consumers are excited to transition their daily activities into the metaverse. That requires a shift in how companies reach consumers: “Media and entertainment organisations are leading the charge, investing 15% of their digital budgets in the metaverse, and 70% are already working on metaverses initiatives. Creating immersive digital advertising experiences in the metaverse will be critical in the future.”
- A focus on digital buying options. A growing population of digital natives expects to interact digitally rather than face to face. “We now need to invest to transform our advertising experience to be digital-first.”
Connecting brands and audiences
To address this changing environment, NZME has rolled out Audience Connect, a first-party data solution that allows brands to leverage NZME’s audience and segments to better target their campaigns. As third-party cookies disappear, this solution will provide a way for its audience to grow revenues and maintain competitiveness, Luey said. It provides options for businesses of all sizes and allows advertisers to focus on contextual targeting as well as intended targeting, which is driven by which ads users have previously clicked on.
As the digital landscape continues changing, Luey said NZME will continue diversifying its product offerings to meet advertisers’ needs.
Digital growth in a post-COVID world
The pandemic greatly accelerated the growth of digital advertising in New Zealand, and Luey said that has been beneficial for display, video, and audio — but it’s just a start: “To ensure that we can continue to realise growth in future, we’re focused on diversifying our product portfolio. A key focus is to develop a new data-driven display format.”
NZME has seen up to a 120% improvement in CPMs by using data audience targeting, and its in-house recommendation engine, which serves native ads based on browsing behaviour, is delivering more than a billion impressions annually and doubled revenues from its previous provider. It also is creating several shoppable content products. “There are some really exciting interactive shopping platforms emerging that will provide new ways to get products in front of audiences.”
Self-service as a strategy
Soon, NZME will launch Ad Hub to provide “a world-class digital experience for our clients to plan, book, create, place, and review digital campaigns all from the convenience of their mobile or their laptop 24/7.” This self-service method lets advertisers go live with a campaign in less than five minutes. Luey envisions it becoming a scalable channel for clients in the future.
“Our future ambition is to have over half our clients booking via self-service,” she said, noting that it benefits both parties. “Our clients will get a digitalised experience that they can 100% control and have visibility over; our account managers will have less booking administration and have more time to focus on higher quality conversations. And our operations teams will have more time to focus on optimising the big complex campaigns as campaigns booked by our self-service will be 100% trafficked automatically.”
The digital advertising ecosystem will continue to evolve, Luey said, and the pace of that evolution is only going to speed up: “So it’s important to keep an eye on the horizon for the disruptions coming. Our future focuses on the power of data, diversifying our product portfolio, and transforming the advertiser experience to accelerate our digital growth.”
Tempo Digital deals with fake information in ads
Tempo Digital found a solution to filter out fake and misleading content with the goal of maintaining their ethical principles while optimising their customer experience.
“Our subscribers obviously don’t want to see premium articles side by side with advertising content using manipulated photos or manipulated information,” CEO Wahyu Dhyatmika told summit attendees.
Tempo Digital started as a weekly news magazine in 1971 and have since grown to a major daily digital newspaper. The media company played a part in the democratic movement in Indonesia and has a reputation for independent journalism and investigative reporting. Tempo also has no majority shareholders, protecting its newsroom from commercial and advertising influences.
It is important for Tempo to preserve its ethical standing. But when they began to see an increase in digital revenue, they also began to see an increase in what Dhyatmika called a worrying trend: “Some of the problematic ads contain misinformation and disinformation.”
Unfiltered content containing fake products and manipulated content was popping up alongside their journalism content. Dhyatmika said not only was this an issue for their subscribers, it was also an issue for advertisers who didn’t want their products next to fake news.
“It’s not only our problem. I think it’s a problem for the news cycle system in Indonesia.”
While other news publications have tried to use disclaimers or they have blocked problematic ads altogether, Tempo Digital created a fact-checking method to apply to the business side of their organisation as a solution:
- Collaborate with digital advertising agencies: They ask each agency to send their content to the Tempo Digital team before it is placed on their digital channels.
- Sort-form strategy: Content is then sorted through AI-based filter tools that will automatically flag and filter out problematic content before it is sent to their Web site.
- Weekly checks: Each week, hundreds of pieces of advertising material are submitted to be fact-checked. A newsroom fact-checker is then assigned to help trace the authenticity and credibility of the information displayed in each advertisement.
- Final approval: Only approved and fact-checked ads will be displayed on Tempo Digital Web sites.
Tempo Digital started this process early in 2022, and so far, Dhyatmika said they have already seen positive growth in their subscriber base after implementing their fact-checking process. Tempo Digital is the first fact-checking organisation in Indonesia. The media company is recognised by the international fact-checking network works alongside Facebook as their third-party fact-checker.
Tempo Digital plans to team up with other media organisations and advertising agencies to create improved ethical standards for advertisements in Indonesia. “Unlike Australia, New Zealand, or some of your countries the digital ads in Indonesia are still growing to find a better footing,” Dhyatmika said.
As Tempo Digital moves forward, they are focusing on a new economic system and structure. Their newsroom will now be one leg of their organisation. They plan to create a journey for users that will inform them with credible news and data, inspire them through education channels, and empower and invite them to be part of a network of creators.
No matter the new digitalisation of their company, Tempo’s values and principles will remain the same, Dhyatmika said:
“For us, this is a question about what value we want to project to our audience. In the digital transformation that we are going through today, I think it’s truly important to maintain that — and to emphasise to our internal newsroom and to our news organisation in general that we are not changing the DNA of Tempo even though we are moving to a digital format and we are transforming into a digital organisation.”
Complete coverage of the two-day summit can be found here.