According to INMA’s Advertising Initiative Lead Mark Challinor, diamonds aren’t alone in being judged by “four Cs.” The current state and future of media advertising is all about creativity, context, cookies, and collaboration.
Speaking on day four of the INMA World Congress of News Media, sponsored by Viafoura, Challinor and Daniel Knapp, chief economist at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, gave their thoughts on the future of the advertising industry and how it relates to news media. The World Congress continues throughout May on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Registation is available here for all or individual sessions.
Digital advertising is different than any other advertising and needs to be understood to do the work ahead in a cookieless world, Knapp said.
“After COVID, we saw a lot of new business registrations happening, a lot of new digital businesses, as well as digital first business models — finding, retaining, and serving customers in the digital domain,” he said.
There has been a slightly muted short-term growth, Knapp said, but advertising agencies are still strong and resilient because the driving factors outweigh the current obstacles.
“There is an explosion of streaming services around the world that boost advertising, and more hybrid subscription models will be on the rise, monetised through advertising,” Knapp said. “This is not only creating more inventory, but also able to absorb more types of demand because there hasn’t been so far in digital advertising ... been the opportunity before to do high video advertising at scale.”
Because of this demand, there is potential to unlock the supply into an entirely new direction in digital advertising.
Knapp does warn that this growth will be very unevenly distributed and, “not everyone will win in this world.”
Cookies: No more cookies
Since Google announced it will be ending support for third-party cookies in 2023, advertisers have been forced to look for new ways to reach audiences instead of creating profiles with demographics or cookies. In a post-pandemic world where privacy is at the top of every news and advertising agenda, understanding audiences will be crucial to communicating effectively, Challinor said.
“I think it’s important that media companies use the period up to the 2023 deadline well in terms of constructing their first-party strategy,” he said told World Congress attendees. “It will be crucial to understanding specifically who is consuming your content and making sure your advertisers can easily, creatively, and intelligently target different audience sectors.”
Knapp introduced the “long year zero” term for digital advertising. What does the phrase mean?
“The longest year in history was 46 BC, AKA the Annus Confusionis, the year of confusion,” Knapp said. This was when the calendar was changed to the Julian calendar, which took a lot of adjusting, with that first year lasting 445 days long. “In digital advertising, the year zero started counting when Google announced the implication of third-party cookies.
“We are not out of year zero due to the combined impact of competition, privacy of regulation, and technological innovation, and COVID. We are in the pivotal phase of reconstructing the ad agency, and doing it on quicksand.”
This is happening without understanding which innovations are being used in place of third-party cookies, Knapp said, therefore media companies are unsure which innovations will be mass marketed.
“We can see the contours of a new order emerging, and this will be key for any news publisher to know as we walk through this year zero.”
Media companies need to talk to their tech providers about creative ways to enhance first-party data assets, he continued. “This seismic change will see much market innovation, so the more liaisons you have for tech suppliers and advertisers about the implications for them, the more likely they are to appreciate your insights and knowledge.”
This can also help give them new ideas about positive ways to work with you.
Creativity: Getting creative with selling
There are many creative advertising opportunities, Challinor said, including branded content, partnering with Big Tech, and promoting ourselves as a safe place to advertise.
In a world of fake news, this latter point is especially salient. This echoes what advertising guru Sir John Hegarty said during one INMA Webinar: “If it’s in print, I know I can trust it. I think all newspapers the world over should promote this.”
The industry also needs to be looking at our sales teams and what these changes might mean for them. “In an era of programmatic advertising,” Challinor asked, “what will we require our sales teams to actually sell?”
During last week’s Webinar with Denmark’s Ekstra Bladet, Challinor shared the company has seen a slowdown of programmatic advertising since lockdown has eased. They think this is due to sales people being able to visit agencies in person again, which may be another indication of the importance of human interactions.
Challinor also emphasised that while it may seem like print is waning in importance, his conversations with media companies around the world showed that “packaging print with digital is really powerful.”
Context: Advertisers must build trust
“Data collection and cookies have had bad PR,” Challinor said. They’re seen by many as infiltrating a consumer’s private information and even stealing data. As digital advertising continues to do battle with negative consumer perceptions like these, he continued, “the onus is on advertisers to find creative ways to recover consumer trust.
“Advertisers need to serve engaging ads that fit seamlessly into publisher pages and enhance the user experience.”
This includes contextual advertising, which doesn’t use search or browsing history or cookies, therefore respecting a customer’s personal data and has become a reliable alternative to cookies.
The advertising industry is adapting to the new landscape, Challinor said, so we must do the same.
Tech providers and others in the value chain are also acquiring companies that focus on first-party data, ID solutions and on contextual, Knapp said: “If you are working with tech partners, it might be acquired. But also understand how this consultation might create better opportunities for higher reach.”
Collaboration: The value of personal connection
This should be a collaboration, Challinor said, between media companies and advertisers, and “we get more business if we can make a personal, direct connection” instead of simply relying on an agency to handle everything.
Challinor again quoted Hegarty as saying, “If we can target clients directly, and give them the tools to educate the clients from their end, too, then it’s a win-win for everyone.”
“The future of media advertising is all about getting closer,” Challinor said. It’s about understanding how advertisers are thinking, because there are bound to be gaps in their knowledge that we can help fill. It’s about “using our insights and expertise to challenge the status quo and inspire them to greater heights.”