Power Returns to the Content Creator: Why MFA & Audience-based Advertising Is No Longer the Way

With the death of cookies, the decline of MFA sites, and 96% of publishers depending on contextual targeting for their business, a paradigm switch is set to occur, placing more value, and power, to the publishers who create high-quality content.

The video publishing industry is a strange enigma. In what other industry do you create a product, only to make revenue from a byproduct of those products?

And it’s not a small amount of revenue either. Total ad spend is predicted to reach up to $390 billion in 2024, of which publishers get to keep a large majority. With such a large percentage of revenue in the video content space, outside of SVOD, coming from the sale of the ad space, the value of the content itself has been severely underplayed.

Typically, when direct-selling, a publisher can offer advertisers data surrounding user behavior, cookie-based demographics, and traffic metrics, which only assigns value to the audience and not the content. This is how many Made-for-Advertising sites have flown under the radar for so long, with many DSPs providing traffic metrics over quality metrics.

However, with the death of cookies, the decline of MFA sites, and 96% of publishers depending on contextual targeting for their business, a paradigm switch is set to occur, placing more value, and power, to the publishers who create high-quality content. Content creators who can provide precise data on their content and whom it resonates specifically will have an impressive advantage against the competition.

The Golden Age of Video

The growing ability to understand content through advanced metadata analysis truly makes this era the golden age of video. Content creators, SSPs, and DSPs that can provide deeper analytics on what video content is available will reign supreme.

Contextual targeting in the video space has thus far been relatively limited to relating ads to the general content scheme of the text on the page or the overarching IAB category of the video in its entirety.

This happens all the time when advertisers and brands purchase contextual placements through DSPs that don’t have advanced video analysis tools. Imagine a publisher packaging up 50 travel videos and presenting them to Delta Airlines. Usually, ads are placed on an overarching content scheme – i.e. “travel,” then an advertiser like Delta Airline ads may be placed within videos about the “Best Way to Travel Without Flying” or “Backpack Itinerary for the West Coast.”

Let’s say the content is narrowed down to “Air travel .” Still, the general nature leaves advertisers with crucial questions about the emotion and deeper context – is it a joyous family trip to Disney World, or perhaps, it depicts a tragic incident involving an airplane?

Understanding this distinction is important, as it heavily impacts the advertisers’ interest. This is one of the reasons why advertisers are typically wary of news and Made-for-Advertising sites. There is so much bad news out there, that the probability of an advertiser showing up on a news article or video that is inappropriate or just plain insensitive is high.

However, by offering Delta Airlines the same package of 50 videos that are guaranteed to feature families happily flying to Disney World on their planes, the content’s worth becomes immeasurable. Some studies have shown that strategies like this boost brand recognition, awareness, and consideration by up to 30%, showcasing that the ability to understand and contextualize content intimately is a game-changer.

The Transition From Cookies & MFA

The current model of publisher and digital advertising puts content as the vehicle for ads, instead of being the main show, capable of engaging specific audiences that advertisers are interested in. However, this wasn’t always the case. In an essay by Bill Gates in 1996, he said “Content is king.” Somewhere along the journey, we got away from that as the mode for buying and placing ads.

If content is king, then context is queen. With the shift from cookie-based advertising to more context-based advertising, publishers can confidently approach brands, presenting content that resonates specifically with their desired audience.

In addition, the decline of Made-For-Advertising sites marks a critical pivot in the preference for advertisers and users alike to have a user-friendly, more content-focused experience. Statista reported that from September 2022 to January 2023, 15% of programmatic spend was spent on MFA sites. Companies like Magnite, Sharethrough, and Pubmatic have announced that they are blocking MFA sites moving forward.

In this landscape, where personalized, targeted and user-first approaches reign supreme, content creators with precise data can confidently approach brands, leveraging intelligent insights that navigate the traditional uncertainties.

How Publishers Can Take Control of Content

Due to the 93% of advertisers who said that they will use contextual advertising for some or most of their purchases and their increasing reliance on attention metrics vs. traffic metrics, a deeper level of contextual understanding needs to occur. This shift is poised to be the biggest game-changer in the industry this year, unlocking new possibilities for publishers and advertisers alike.

Publishers and content creators should look to equip tools that analyze video content in real-time, capturing trends and behaviors that unlock a world of enhanced media investment decisions that prioritize premium, trustworthy content. Utilizing AI and computer vision technologies, content creators can contextualize a video frame-by-frame, enhancing how content is packaged and presented. This level of insight allows for strategic positioning of content to advertisers, offering not just exposure but alignment with precisely curated content that speaks directly to target demographics, because where the great content is, the people are.

Publishers equipped with the ability to detect keywords, tags, and topics at scale within their content are not just responding to the post-cookie challenges and the transparency-first future; they are setting new standards for engaging and captivating audiences. For those who master the art of leveraging detailed video analytics, the future is bright.