Without question, 2018 was a huge year for digital publishers. And while it’s good to take some time to celebrate your accomplishments, it’s also important to get ready for the year ahead.
Here are five major trends predicted to impact publishers when it comes to video.
1. Video advertising will continue to grow.
Video is exploding as an effective way to add extra revenue while simultaneously increasing engagement. A new study found that, by 2019, more than 80% of traffic will be made up of video. Paired with the fact digital video advertising revenue already increased nearly 35% in the first half of 2018 and U.S. digital video advertising spend is forecasted to reach more than US$33 billion in 2019.
There’s never been a better time for publishers to look for innovative ways to incorporate video into their properties.
2. Programmatic will dominate.
One of the forces driving video advertising growth is the adoption of programmatic video advertising. More than 80% of digital display ad dollars in the United States currently transact programmatically, and that number is expected to continue to grow.
What’s causing the push?
Programmatic advertising has allowed advertisers to explicitly define the user and moment in which they want to display their ads. Rather than advertising directly on Web sites attracting their users, advertisers can now pinpoint the users they want on a vast number of Web sites.
But programmatic has its drawbacks.
Growing alongside programmatic advertising spend is the amount of ad fraud. Fraudsters hijack legitimate ad delivery networks and serve ads on phony Web sites. Ad fraud is projected to cost businesses US$50 million by 2025 if it continues to grow at the current rate.
One of the best ways to combat ad fraud is for publishers to use an Authorized Digital Sellers record (ads.txt) to validate the authenticity of the Web site. Although it is still early in adoption, more than 77% of the top 5,000 sites now use ads.txt on their digital properties.
This year also saw the start of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enforcement in the European Union, which requires publishers to explicitly define their tracking systems and allow users to opt out. This tracking data is the foundation fueling programmatic advertising.
While a similar privacy law has yet to make its way to North America, consumers as a whole are becoming more aware of how advertisers are using their data. This coming year will definitely see some shifts in the programmatic market as publishers and advertisers attempt to balance monetisation with privacy demands.
Even with the increased attention to user data privacy, programmatic advertising is still expected to grow, just at a slightly slower rate than previously forecasted.
3. Brand safety will remain a concern.
An unintended side effect of the programmatic advertising boom is the growth of brand safety concerns. Now that advertisers do not necessarily have a direct connection with publishers, it’s harder than ever to guarantee the content will be brand positive.
Even with a combination of Artificial Intelligence and human auditing, the sheer volume of content being created makes eliminating brand safety concerns a nearly impossible task for major platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. A recent survey found more than one-third of advertisers have admitted to delivering an ad on an unsafe or harmful Web site.
Advertisers in the United States are already working hard to combat brand safety issues by blacklisting negative sites, whitelisting positive sites, and avoiding sites with inflammatory content such as political commentary. Advertisers are also demanding more accountability from social platforms to increase their auditing and remove offensive content faster.
The focus on official video sources will also be key to limiting brand safety infractions. In an effort to add more brand-safe content to its platform, YouTube started testing ad-supported full-length movies in its content catalog. For publishers, maintaining strong relationships with advertisers means only using their own video or video from trusted providers offering official content. User-generated content still holds a lot of unknowns and will continue to cause issues for advertisers.
4. Reliance on platforms is changing.
A few years ago, the key to driving traffic to your site was establishing a strong Facebook presence. By building a vast audience of likes and follows generated by continuously posting content on Facebook, publishers could count on traffic back to their sites.
Due to Facebook’s recent shift to prioritise user-generated content combined with a decline of user engagement, brands and publishers no longer have the same access to their audience they once had. In fact, a recent study by Pew found that 42% of Facebook users stepped back their activity in 2018, with 26% deleting the Facebook app from their phones. As a result, mobile traffic from Facebook has declined by nearly 40% since January 2017.
Unfortunately for many, money spent on content designed for social platforms did not yield the return publishers were quite literally banking on. Many producers heavily invested in resources to create branded video content designed for Facebook.
Now that the reach of that content has dampened, producers need to find a new way to distribute video that’s already been created to recoup costs. This is great news for publishers looking for a way to add video to their Web sites without the resources to develop their own in-house video content. With so much content looking for an audience, today’s publishers have a massive opportunity to monetise their traffic with more video options than ever before.
5. Original content creation will explode.
With digital video consumption growing, more video content is being created specifically with online viewers in mind. In fact, more video content is uploaded in 30 days than all three major U.S. television networks combined have created in the last 30 years! Over the past year, a number of companies emerged that will be further fueling the trend long into 2019.
Just a few months ago, Snapchat unveiled its new line-up of original content named Snap Originals. Aiming to become a modern version of HBO, Snapchat invested in 12 daily scripted series to attract and retain users. Shortly after, Disney-alum Jeffrey Katzenberg and tech expert Meg Whitman announced the details of their new mobile video platform, Quibi, which will feature content from big-name producers like Guillermo del Toro.
But it isn’t just tech companies investing in original video content. McClatchy also created an original series called “The War Within Initiative,” chronicling the lives of three war veterans and their struggles. The new docu-series is just one of many original series we’re sure to see come out of McClatchy Studios as it broadens its storytelling mediums to connect with new audiences.
With such a heavy investment in original mobile video content for 2019, expect to see changes in video types shift accordingly. This year will see an increase in live videos as well as vertical, square, and 360-degree videos that embrace the hardware capabilities of smartphones. Rather than building for TV screens and adapting it for mobile audiences, producers will create video designed exclusively to be viewed on mobile.
This year will surely be transformative for the digital publishing industry. By embracing video and capitalising on programmatic video advertising revenue, 2019 could be the biggest year for digital publishers yet.