🌯 Publishers vs. Tech Titans: A Modern David and Goliath Story

AdMonsters Wrapper: The weekly ad tech news wrap up
This Week
May 28, 2024
Publishers vs. Tech Titans
Amazon Reveals New Ad Products at Publisher Service Summit
Ad Tech Wants to Veto Vermont Data Bill
The Tug of War Between Big Tech and Local News
Publishers Flipping the Revenue Script
Publishers vs. Tech Titans: A Modern David and Goliath Story
I know you’re probably ho-hum over my ramblings about generative AI and its implications for the future of digital media, but this past week I came across two juicy articles that shine a light on how the less-than-cozy relationship between tech giants and publishers is only being further torn asunder by, that’s right you guessed it — AI. Spoiler alert: this is not a love song. (And yes, that was a Public Image Ltd reference.)

First up, Jessica Lessin's article in The Atlantic Media Companies Are Making a Huge Mistake With AI paints a grim picture of media companies tripping over themselves to cut deals with AI firms like OpenAI. Lessin argues that these deals are a recipe for disaster, echoing past mistakes where publishers got crumbs while tech giants feasted. Remember when News Corp heavily invested in an iPad-only publication for Apple that flopped? Or how about when publishers offered Google content for free, only to erode their subscription base? You get the picture.

The bottom line? Handing over your hard-earned content for AI training without a solid strategy is like selling your soul for pennies.

On the flip side, Matthew Scott Goldstein’s take in Press Gazette How Media Tech’s Big Four Are Harming Publishers Who Power Their World hammers home how Alphabet, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft are sucking the lifeblood out of publishers. From AI overviews to privacy policies, these behemoths are making it harder for publishers to keep their lights on, all while reaping the benefits of the content they didn't create.

Why should you care? These articles underscore a critical wake-up call for publishers: It's high time to protect your content and rethink your strategies. Relying on tech giants to "help" has historically backfired. Instead, focus on innovation within your control, value your content properly, and push back against deals that undermine your worth. The future of publishing depends on staying vigilant and proactive against these digital Goliaths.

Let’s not let history repeat itself, folks. Keep creating, keep fighting, and let’s ensure publishers not only survive but thrive in this digital age. - LdJ
Amazon Reveals Host of New Ad Suite Tools at Publishers Service Summit
At Amazon's Publisher's Service Summit, the retailer unveiled a host of new features to its ad suite. The new features attempt to bolster Amazon's ad business and give brands greater access to their audience. These updates include Signal IQ, which measures and tests the value of ID solutions, and an update to its Transparent Ad Marketplace.

Signal IQ: This new measurement tool could streamline publishers' experimentation process with third-party cookies. It is an expansion of Amazon's Connections Marketplace which was established as an online shop for publishers to test alternative IDs from ad tech vendors like Yahoo, LiveRamp and LiveIntent.

According to Mike Irenski, VP of programmatic revenue at Hearst Newspapers, the magazine attained valuable insight from Signal IQ. It revealed the impact of third-party IDs and signal loss in their inventory, which, Irenski says, allowed Hearst to improve its addressability strategy.

Amazon Publisher Cloud: In partnership with Omnicom Group, this service gives advertisers access to ad spots with well established publishers. The Audience Collaborations feature gives advertisers the ability to reach custom audiences directly with their publishers of choice. For the sell side, publishers can curate inventory to sell on Amazon's DSP with the Automated Deal Curation feature.

Everyone is stepping up their ad game, even big tech and the walled gardens. But others have accused these walled gardens of using their ad updates to keep revenue and inventory running through their own streams. The post-cookie testing feature and the cloud can undoubtedly benefit some publishers and advertisers, but at what cost? This will also help them gain a competitive edge with other big tech behemoths like Meta and Google. With the report of Amazon’s ad surge, it seems like they are making the right moves. - AB
Tech Companies Want to Veto Vermont Data Regulation Bill
Unfortunately, since the US does not have a federal data privacy law, it must contend with state regulations. The current one on the docket is a Vermont data regulation bill. The bill would impose major restrictions on companies' data collection and usage and create what is being called an "age-appropriate design code" to restrict how minors are targeted with content on social media.

Like many of these data regulation laws, this bill has its detractors. The tech group NetChoice has asked Vermont Governor Phil Scott to veto the bill, citing that the sweeping regulation will violate minors' rights to access content and social platforms' editorial control.

In addition, many expect the ad industry to ask for a veto of the bill, specifically due to its privacy terms. The private right-to-action clause would allow consumers who have been harmed by the collection and usage of their data to bring about private lawsuits.

The bill has gotten some support from advocacy groups Consumer Reports and the Electronic Privacy Information Center. If you ask me, it seems like the same old back and forth instead of regulators and the ad industry coming together to make a more robust bill. - AB
The Ongoing Tug-of-War: Big Tech and Local News
In the ongoing saga of Big Tech vs. local news, the debate over taxing tech giants to support local journalism has reignited with a vengeance. The recent push highlights a key point: tech behemoths like Google and Facebook have undeniably benefited from local news content without adequately compensating its creators. This proposed tax could be a game-changer, potentially funneling much-needed funds back into local newsrooms struggling to stay afloat in the digital age. We've long discussed the dire straits of local journalism at AdMonsters, noting both the predatory practices of private equity and the relentless monetization challenges faced by news publishers.

However, it's not all doom and gloom. Some local outlets are finding innovative ways to monetize news and engage audiences. Yet, the question remains: will these new tax initiatives truly level the playing field, or are they merely band-aid solutions for a deeper systemic issue? As we’ve explored before, policies like the the CJPA and other legislative efforts could set significant precedents, but the implementation and actual impact remain to be seen. It’s clear that while Big Tech’s pockets run deep, so does the commitment of local journalists to serve their communities. The battle lines are drawn, and the stakes for local democracy couldn't be higher. - LdJ
Subscription Surge: Why Publishers Are Flipping the Revenue Script
Publishers are betting big on subscriptions as ad revenue gets trickier and AI looms large, according to Toolkits. Of the 28 senior executives they surveyed, 17 have ramped up their subscription focus, and the rest are holding steady. None are backtracking. As ad revenue becomes as unpredictable as the weather, having a solid base of paying subscribers is like having a cozy, weatherproof shelter in a stormy market. Platforms like FT Strategies are preaching resilience, and major players like The Financial Times are pivoting to direct reader revenue to weather the AI and traffic declines.

Let’s be real: the days of relying solely on ad dollars are dwindling. Subscriptions offer a more stable revenue stream, less dependent on the whims of traffic and ad buyers. It's about building direct, valuable relationships with readers who are willing to pay for quality content. We’ll be diving into this very topic at AdMonsters Ops on June 4 in our session "Subscription Shift: Why Publishers Are Flipping The Script." Get the lowdown on best practices, KPIs, and real-time customer behaviors to make your subscription model shine. Check out our previous insights on building a subscription-first model, generative AI revenue, and regwall strategies to get a head start. - LdJ
One X Post
Is it Really Spelled AdTech?
It’s AdTech.
Worth a Listen
A Colossal Misunderstanding?
Tom Limongello and Todd Sawicki have joined forces to help make sense of the complexities of online advertising. In this episode, they take a deep dive into the Colussus kerfuffle and the practice of ID bridging. With each episode, the hosts promise to slow down the discussions in the ad tech world to provide an understanding of the motivations of all the parties involved, because they’ve been involved in the middle of it.
Upcoming AdMonsters Events

Facebook   Twitter   LinkedIn