Pubs Rev Up Their Revenue Strategies

AdMonsters Wrapper: The weekly ad tech news wrap up
This Week
November 29, 2022
Virtual Stores Are Good As Gold
CTV Ad Spend Soars in Q3
Pubs Rev Up Their Revenue Strategies
Around the Water Cooler
Virtual Stores Prove Themselves Data Gold Mines
Although it's been around for decades, online shopping is getting a massive rebrand thanks to the metaverse and virtual reality.

Now that brands realize the benefits of a more immersive online shopping experience, it's crazy to think that scrolling through a website, and shopping from a list of thumbnails could soon be a nostalgic pastime. Not only have results shown that virtual online stores improve user experience, but experts have realized that they boost engagement and provide a wealth of consumer data.

For example, on November 9, Crocs launched its first virtual holiday store that will run until Dec. 31. It mimics an in-person brick-and-mortar store, but consumers don't have to leave their houses to experience it. Consumers can enter different rooms where they can browse products and styles.

Also, these online virtual stores' massive data collection capabilities have easily convinced online retailers to experiment with them. In the Crocs virtual store, for instance, the brand can track how long customers stay in each room, which products get the most engagement, and what consumers potentially want to buy. Retailers also add quizzes and games that help provide valuable data about consumers' interests and behaviors.

"It's a new layer of 3D data that you didn't have before from e-commerce," said Neha Singh, founder, and chief executive of Obsess. Obsess is the software company that helped Crocs put its virtual store on the map. "What you can see from the platform is essentially every action the user is doing inside the 3D experience."
Why This Matters
The retail media boom has already received its flowers, but the data from virtual reality stores only further proves its benefits, especially when it comes to how well the medium can legit collect first-party data and close the path-to-purchase for advertisers.

There are a plethora of brands like Coach, Saks Off 5th, and Swiss chocolatier Lindt all jumping on the virtual store trend. Coach already noted an improvement in customer engagement in their virtual store.

While most of these virtual shopping experiences are only taking place during the holiday season, publishers and advertisers should look to invest in them year-round. Michael Felice, Associate Partner in the Communications, Media, and Technology practice at Kearney, says that "brands can also monetize their newly collected customer data in other channels, such as with brand affiliates or through performance marketing."

This trend will only help brands to further center on consumers' needs, which will only bring about more revenue for brands (and any publisher partnering with brands in these endeavors). These highly immersive experiences will be exciting for customers, but they will also provide data insights to better target customer needs across the advertising ecosystem.
Q3 CTV Ad Spend Grows Significantly with $926 Million Spent
While general ad spend is trending downward, CTV ad spend has been mostly unaffected and is continuing its growth spurt as we approach year-end.

According to the Standard Media Index, national brands spent $926 million on CTV in Q3, which is a 40% increase. Only a year ago, CTV ad spend was $664 million.

While spending increased in all industries, the highest spenders were:
  • Travel brands increased by 159%.
  • Auto brands increased by 96%.
  • Restaurants increased by 90%.

On the lower end were clothing and accessory brands, which only increased by 0.5%

The upward tick is nowhere near its end. While general ad spend projections have been universally abysmal, experts predict that by 2025 brands will spend more than $37 billion on CTV.
Why This Matters
This CTV boom should come as a shock to no one. The ad spend for this sector has been a bright spot in the industry for quite some time. Publishers with video inventory are finally seeing the value of making the leap to CTV.

The real challenge has been that CTV is still the wild, wild west with very little standardization which can make monetization a challenge. What should a publisher do to clear CTV's hurdles that come in the form of fragmentation, fraud, frequency capping, and measurement?

Peter Ackerman, Director of Product Marketing at Unruly, suggests these tactics to anyone looking to take advantage of the CTV boom:

Lean on Industry Experts. Work with people living in the CTV world as they have a deeper understanding of delivering a high-quality TV experience. On the side of brand safety, they can also help you maneuver the hurdles mentioned above.

Diversify Ad Pod Positioning. This tech is frequently used to monetize long-form videos on CTV and allows sequences of ads to play together in a single ad break.

With CTV ad spend skyrocketing the way it has, it sounds like every publisher should jump on the bandwagon. But, like any other revenue diversification strategy, taking the CTV leap has to make sense for your business.
Publishers Rev Up Revenue Strategies Amidst Recession
2023 is on our heels, and it's quite evident that it won't be smooth sailing for all publishers. In Q3, we've seen advertising revenue decline significantly as ad spend slows and inflation and recession talk raises many red flags for buyers.

But it's not all doom and gloom. Many pubs are developing various strategies to enhance their revenue growth and stave off the effects of a recession. Cafe Media is focused on creating tech tools to help publishers better engage audiences. For example, last year they acquired Topic, an AI-assisted SEO optimization platform helping publishers improve their search performance and boost ad revenue.

Over at Gannet, Kathy Jack Romero, President of Media Marketing Solutions, says that Gannett's top priority is its data strategy. "What we can provide clients is so much more than what we can reach in the footprint of a local print publication," she explained.

The New York Times is currently working on creating "premium" ad experiences tailored to each of their properties, while VOX has stretched its tentacles into commerce and ad tech products, as well as beefing up their muscles in social media. 

And for other publishers, it's all about the power of partnerships. Publishers like Reddit, Dotdash Meredith, and PMC strongly believe that their ads businesses can go the distance as long as they align more closely with their advertising counterparts.

PMC aspires to work closely with advertisers to package inventory across their entire portfolio. "A lot of clients don't know who PMC is, but as soon as we start talking about our brands, they recognize who we are," Vinh Chung, Head of Programmatic Sales and Audience Solutions, Penske Media Corporation, said.

He also mentioned seeing clients tighten their KPIs to make their ad spend more efficient. Under his leadership, PMC works more closely with individual publishers' sales teams to package programmatic inventory with other offerings.

Interestingly, Justin Wohl, CRO, Salon, talked about this during his keynote at PubForum Nashville. He also emphasized the importance of publishers' enhancing communication and workflow alongside the buy side.

And while Dotdash Meredith has seen a 13% decline in revenue recently they plan to use their comprehensive coverage to attract advertisers, highlighting their scale, active audiences, and brand safety. 
Why This Matters
Going into the New Year, it's going to be important for publishers to use their competitive advantages to educate advertisers on what makes their brands and audiences unique. As you can see, publishers that are already preparing for signal loss are ahead of the game. Wait and see won't cut it when ad dollars are scarce.
Around the Water Cooler
Other discussion topics in our industry...
  • Apple Privacy Changes Prompt Some Advertisers to Turn Toward Shoppable TV Ads (MarketingBrew)
  • Media Layoffs Spike Amid Recession Fears (Axios)
  • How Marketers Are Using AI to Target Ads, Recommend Products, and Provide Customer Service (DigiDay)
Sweet Tweet
Ireland's DPC Fines Meta $275 Million for Breaking E.U. Data Privacy Law
Another massive fine for Facebook and its poor data practices aka its core biz model. All of this is due to privacy protections being enforced by regulators. Facebook calls all of this, “signal loss.” An important paragraph here as its PR department had tried to guide this one.
Worth a Listen
Detavio Samuels, CEO at REVOLT
In episode 149, Kerel Cooper talks with Detavio Samuels, CEO at REVOLT, a Black-owned and operated multimedia platform servicing content 24/7 across digital, linear, and live media channels.
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