Dotdash’s Recipe For Success

AdMonsters Wrapper: The weekly ad tech news wrap up
This Week
September 29, 2020
Dotdash's Recipe for Success
ANA Pushes for Federal Privacy Regs
Can Media Take on the Big Boys?
Only 14% of Advertisers Satisfied with Decisioning Solutions
Dotdash Has the Recipe for Success
While many publishers are floundering to stay alive amid browser and OS privacy updates, privacy regulations and the Coronavirus crisis, Dotdash just keeps on going, and going, and going. Look no further than the publisher’s recent acquisition spree. Since January 2019, they’ve acquired seven media properties, with the last two reported just last week.

With the acquisition of food and recipe sites Simply Recipes and Serious Eats from Fexy Media, Dotdash has built a vibrant food and drink portfolio alongside The Spruce Eats and, making it one of the top three largest food and recipe publishers online.

As well, Dotdash has so far survived the pandemic, with a growth in revenue of 18% last quarter to $44.6 million. Yet, critics caution the publisher’s reliance on advertising dollars.
Why This Matters

If you’re trying to figure out what Dotdash is doing that others aren’t, it’s really just a matter of how they mix the ingredients together to make the perfect recipe. At least that is according to Jacob Cohen Donnelly of A Media Operator.

In Donnelly's report this morning, he detailed the ways in which Dotdash’s acquisition strategy has helped the company grow successfully across nearly every corner of the Interwebs. The three ingredients he outlined are: 1/ Content, 2/ Tech 3/ Advertising.

Doesn't sound so special, does it? But wait, there's more.

The entire Dotdash portfolio is built around evergreen content—content that is as relevant today as it is tomorrow, and year after year, after year.

As Editorial Director, Gavin Dunaway tweeted during last year’s Ops keynote: “@dotdashco CEO Vogel: If every cookie disappears tomorrow, it would be great for us. We can map every piece of content to every other piece of content. We’ve been doing this so long, we know exactly how a campaign will perform as soon as we lock in. #OpsNY

Content and advertising are thoroughly aligned.

Also after each acquisition, a new media property is moved over to the same technology stack as the rest of the company. That means that any update made on one site could be easily replicated on another. Talk about keeping product costs down.

Then there’s the way Dotdash handles advertising. It’s another thing Vogel talked about at last year’s Ops conference. By taking most of the ads off the page to speed things up and by serving relevant ads, Dotdash is able to increase traffic and generate more revenue.

There’s a lesson in here for everyone.

ANA Pushes for Fed Privacy Regs
ANA’s group executive VP of Government relations, Dan Jaffe, published a blog post to the ANA site late last week questioning the recent spate of privacy regulations—including GDPR, CCPA and the various state proposals left on the table due to COVID-19 shutdowns—and their negative impact on the survival of digital media.

He wrote:

“A cascade of new laws and regulations are challenging many of the fundamental underpinnings of the digital media growth model. These initiatives are placing tightening restrictions on advertisers’ use of data and effective outreach to consumers.”

The ANA is part of a larger contingent called Privacy For America made up of advertising organizations like the 4A’s, DAA, IAB, NAI and others who aim to work with Congress to support enactment of comprehensive federal consumer data privacy and security legislation.
Why This Matters
The lack of standardization and increased complexity across the current privacy regs has made it difficult for participants in the advertising ecosystem to ensure compliance at all levels. Besides, under GDPR and CCPA pubs are positioned to face serious revenue losses. Meanwhile, GDPR has been a boon for the duopoly but CCPA on the other hand has been a nightmare for Facebook.

These laws have been equally hard for consumers to understand, despite the surge in privacy requests that occurred after CCPA went into effect.

There’s no question that a federal policy would minimize a lot of the issues surrounding consumer education and advertising industry compliance. But the advertising trade groups that form the Privacy For America group should be careful not to play into big tech’s oversized hands as they push for a federal law. It could play to the advantage of Facebook and Google continuing their stronghold on ad dollars.

The two tech giants are spending lots of cash around Washington in hopes that any federal privacy policy would swing unfairly in their direction. In the past year or two, Facebook, Google and Apple have all been refashioning themselves as more privacy-friendly companies in efforts to win both consumers’ and regulators’ trust.

But let’s not forget, the government has a wide side-eye latched on to big tech right now, and the concerns being raised aren’t only about antitrust violations. The FTC is also keeping close watch over how Facebook and Google allow consumers to liberate their data under GDPR and CCPA and whether those practices provide privacy protections for consumers.
Does Media Have the Gumption to Take on the Big Boys?
Media companies have tried to break down the walls built up by Facebook and Google for some time now. Disney, AT&T and Verizon all got into the game to no avail.

In last week’s Wrapper, Editorial Director Gavin Dunaway wrote:

After all, even partnerships and mergers that seem incredibly aligned can run afoul for any number of reasons. Speaking of which, anyone in the market for a secondhand Xandr?
Why This Matters
Maybe taking on the big guys is not the way to go. Perhaps the path forward is providing an alternative like VOX, WAPO or Hearst has done with their own platforms and self-service tools.

It seems to be a trend taking hold in the face of the pandemic. In our last couple of Think Tank sessions with publishers, they talked about either employing or considering self-serve tech to capture incremental revenue and provide workflow efficiency.
Only 14% of Advertisers Satisfied with Decisioning Solutions
For years, marketers and advertisers strived to deliver on the elusive “right message, to the right customer, at the right time” mandate—yet only 14% of marketers and advertisers report having success with decisioning.

Based on the contributions of more than 50 martech and ad tech industry experts, Winterberry Group, a specialized management consultancy with experience in advertising, marketing, data, technology and commerce, released new research: “Demystifying Decisioning & Orchestration: The Power Behind Customer Journeys.”
Why This Matters
The research from Winterberry Group aims to bring clarity to the highly complex world of decisioning and orchestration solutions and provide a framework to understand the challenges, identify the opportunities and build a roadmap for future success.

“To deliver the personalized experiences today’s consumers expect, brands not only have to understand when, where and how their customers want to connect with them but also provide the right experience in the moment with the right context to create long-term relationships. Well-executed offer decisioning and orchestration backed by real-time customer insights across the entire customer journey is essential for brands looking to become leaders in customer experience management,” said Sunil Menon, Sr. Director of Product Marketing at Adobe. Adobe is one of the sponsors of the research.

Download the white paper.
Sweet Tweet
@aexm: Duopoly+ = Troika
I couldn't remember live who was initially in favor of calling the duopoly+ 'the troika' but thankfully Twitter came to the rescue: it was @AdMonsterGavin
Worth a Listen
Leadership During Crisis
Jill Gregory is the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for NASCAR. In this episode of Leadership During Crisis, Jim Stengel revisits this very timely conversation about how NASCAR is pivoting to bring racing to their fans during social distancing.
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