Digital publishing trends

08 Jan 2019  |  John Cole 
Digital publishing trends

Partner content

After a year filled with regulatory changes and bright spotlights on the major platforms, we can expect more disruption in the way the digital ecosystem operates in 2019, writes Ezoic's John Cole

1. The digital economy will continue to grow

Despite growing geopolitical concerns such as China’s economic slide and worries about Brexit, ad rates will continue to rise in 2019, a continuance of last years’ trend; as shown by our Ad Revenue Index.

Regardless of economic climate, ad rates have trended upwards for the past decade. Each year, ad rate records have been broken on Black Friday and then continue to increase the following year.

However, in 2018, the record was broken in May, once more in June, and then again a few months later on Black Friday (where the record stands today).

The growth of ad rates over the last 10 years, and 2018’s success, point to this trend continuing in 2019. It shows the maturity that programmatic buying is having across the board.

2. Media buyers and publishers will work more closely together

Media buyers and publishers will work together to improve quality in 2019.

Prior to 2019, issues within the digital ecosystem prompted the rise of regulatory technologies and procedures like ads.txt and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Media buyers are tired of wasting money on worthless inventory, fraud, and worrying about things like brand safety. Meanwhile, publishers are fed-up with the middlemen extracting revenue within the exchange they have with advertisers.

In 2019, more publishers will look closely at the value of their ad inventory over the long-term, such as how ads dilute each other and how they affect the price of inventory months into the future. Advertisers will begin asking publishers questions about user experience metrics like engagement time and navigation bounces to gain a better understanding of how users are responding to content.

Together, they will both be seeking to maximize the value of the publisher’s audiences attention. Advertisers will be willing to pay a premium for this attention if the publisher can provide it, and it will be up to the publisher to demonstrate this engagement and price their inventory correctly.

3. There will be more regulation

Regulations within digital publishing will continue to transform the digital ecosystem in 2019.

Distrust for the major platforms is no longer contained to just the media space, and public attention is landing on many of the issues that plague digital publishing.

In 2018, an Ezoic survey of 123 publishers showed that Facebook is currently the most distrusted platform among publishers.

Despite these platforms’ attempts to self-regulate through items like ads.txt and the Coalition for Better Ads, world governments have already started to consider what actions they can take to further regulate and protect the personal privacy of their citizens.

In 2019, you should expect more privacy regulations from platforms as they attempt to avoid the expansion of government regulations like GDPR, though it is likely regulations will emerge from both.

Regulation in this industry can often mean dramatic change. It is a good exercise for all digital publishers to stay informed as we enter into the most regulated time in Internet history.

Our space is changing. Many of the things publishers have lamented about in the past - transparency, the platforms’ dominance and the value of digital ads over time, all seem to moving in the right direction.

2019 looks to bring more good news, but it will not be without its surprises. I look forward to sharing the journey alongside you.

John Cole is CCO of Ezoic and a partner for Mediatel's Year Ahead 2019.

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