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Diversification, commerce & people: Industry predictions for 2022

In the first of our 2022 industry predictions features published earlier this month, a key point for next year would be the need for publishers to adopt a fast pace of innovation as well as adopt an adaptable and flexible mindset. In this, the second installment of our 2022 predictions, the emphasis is on further diversification, leveraging commerce, and finally, a marked focus on effective people management.

Commerce and trusted, premium content: An optimal match

Jane Wolfson
Chief Commercial Officer, Hearst UK

“Content to Commerce. Harnessing the purchasing power of consumers through premium content will be a key focus, be it off-the-page in print or direct-to-consumer channels via digital content. Consumers come to us for discovery and to research products and, as we understand more and more about our consumers, their purchase intent and shopping behaviours through our first-party data, we will be able to target them even more proficiently at the right time, in the right place with the right message. This ensures we are able to drive action as well as awareness. The growth of known first-party data is also essential in helping to deliver this, and trust in premium brands will remain crucial in our ability to remain at the sharp end of the purchase funnel.”

Harnessing the purchase power of consumers through premium content will be a key focus…we are able to drive action as well as awarness.

Jane Wolfson, Chief Commercial Officer, Hearst UK

Denise Turner
Director of Research and Insight, Newsworks

“In a speech in 2015, Sir Martin Sorrell said that ‘the days of separation are gone’. By that, he meant that content can be consumed anywhere, via multiple sources and devices. Of course, news is still told in words and pictures, but the stories are just as likely to be in the form of live blogs, events, videos, podcasts, data, graphics, and any combination of the above. 2022 will see key themes around content and context become even more important for news publishers. In an age of information overload, trusted news brands that help people navigate the world and give them the tools to make up their own minds will be absolutely vital for society and brands alike.”

Dominic Perkins
Managing Director, Sovrn UK

“Focusing on 2022 we’re at a climacteric point for the industry, specifically for publishers and advertisers. With the ever-growing pressures from governing bodies on privacy, the further strengthening of the walled gardens and pressure to create a transparent ecosystem with privacy at its core, trusted partnerships that deliver on solving these aspects are going to be crucial. There isn’t one solution that will deliver the silver bullet that some crave but a mixture of publisher and advertiser 1st party data enriched with engagement and contexts which will help deliver outcomes for brands.

“The further diversification of revenues driven by a greater understanding of consumer habits, as well as content to enable consumers to purchase from a choice of multiple retailers, enables publishers to deepen their relationship with consumers who trust their opinion (which combined with a choice of trusted retailers enables consumers to buy with confidence).”

There will be greater competition from social platforms for commerce revenues which means publishers will need to invest in robust commerce strategies now to engage consumers.

Dominic Perkins, Managing Director, Sovrn UK

Staff care and talent management will be key

Katherine Bell
Editor-in-Chief, Quartz

“Newsrooms will remain a lot more distributed than we expected earlier in the pandemic, at least in the US, and that will be good for readers. Making remote work a permanent option and hiring reporters and editors in a wider variety of places will lead to more diverse newsrooms, reduce blind spots in coverage, and make our work more relevant and trusted by more people. There will be risks and downsides, of course. We’ll have to be more intentional about tending our newsroom cultures and training the next generation of journalists.”

I expect we’ll see a lot more talent teams and editors embedded in newsrooms to concentrate on people rather than stories. The work they’ll do—recruiting, supporting new employees and their managers, addressing burnout, creating opportunities for learning and mentorship, and so on—has always been necessary, but in 2022 it’ll be more valuable than ever.

Katherine Bell, Editor-in-Chief, Quartz

Attention will be the ad currency, not viewability

Caroline Hugonenc,
VP Global Research & Insights, Teads

“With recent research showing attention is three times better at predicting outcomes than viewability, we will see a continued focus on attention as a metric as advertisers look to plan, buy and measure media in this way in 2022. With privacy a constant priority for advertisers, and the deadline for third-party cookies approaching, all eyes will be on maintaining a responsible and safe ecosystem that respects the user, while closing the effectiveness gap with future-proof measurement techniques. As a result, we will see stronger relationships forged between advertisers and publishers, which will drive a positive change in the industry.

“The champions of the open web need to continually build the case for responsible advertising by demonstrating its effectiveness in order for brands to embrace it. Overall, 2022 will see the dawn of a better and safer internet for those who are willing to create it.”

Eric Visser,
CEO, JustPremium

“In the year ahead we predict that there will be a continued rise of attention-based buying and reporting. This is because brands will start seeing more and more data points exposing low CPMs as well as showing that small digital placements are not getting looked at, even if they are viewable. Consequently, these formats will provide little value to the clients long term branding objectives.

“Moving forward, larger, creatively-driven digital placements such as High Impact, will come to the fore as being more cost-efficient as an outcome. And this will flip the entire buying model of our industry on its head – providing greater value for brands, and a better user experience for users. In turn, attention-based metrics will be established in mainland Europe, reigniting the classic AIDA model for advertisers.

Planning for a cookie-less future: Was 2021 a dead end?

Ben Walmsley
Commercial Director, Publishing, News UK

“The ICO’s recent opinion piece setting expectations for digital advertising does not offer a glowing assessment of attempts to prepare alternatives in anticipation of the retirement of the third-party cookie. 2021 feels like the year of dead ends: regulators questioned the legality of TCF, Google’s FLoC came under severe criticism, Universal IDs may not comply with the GDPR, IP can’t be used for ID…the list goes on.

“This leads to a narrowing focus in 2022, knowing we can’t recreate the status quo. This may feel like walls closing in for some, yet for publishers it offers clarity. Planning for a future in which only first-party identifiers hold value and data can be applied only at its source gives certainty. The cavalry may not be coming.

“On this basis, focus sharpens on building consumer trust through well-informed consent and considered value exchange, which takes time and effort compared to trialing industry-wide solutions. Consequently, publishers will be more consumer-centric in 2022 than ever before. Data will enable that as it permeates and fuels newsrooms and product teams as much as commercial departments.”

The quest for standardisation will still continue at pace, particularly through innovation in contextual buying and panel measurement; old ideas revisited, reimagined and reinvigorated.

Ben Walmsley, Commercial Director, Publishing, News UK

Elizabeth Brennan,
Head of Advertiser Strategy at Permutive

“With any huge shift in our industry comes doom and gloom headlines, but 2022 will be the year that digital advertising moves from this phase of disruption and chaos, to the next stage where privacy fuels possibilities. It’s where we’ll stop talking and start making a clearer, transparent and fairer ecosystem a reality. One that benefits advertisers, publishers and consumers and where technology is an enabler of those relationships, not an intermediary. 

“The need for clarity is real, and some advertisers are starting to broaden their reliance on a complex system of third parties and moving to a more direct way of buying. Because of this, it’s an exciting time for advertisers and publishers, but it’s also challenging as any major shift in advertising has been in the past. But as we move towards advertising that respects relationships (between advertisers, publishers and consumers), I believe that we’ll put people back into the decisions we make in digital advertising, and advertisers will find and test sustainable and ethical ways to buy media and reach consumers.”

Ryan Afshar,
Head of Publishers UK, LiveRamp

“In the privacy-first future, publishers have the opportunity to create authenticated and trusted relationships with their consumers through people-based, addressable identity solutions. And in 2022,  they have two areas of focus in which to achieve this.

“Firstly, the success of hard-won first-party data depends on how well publishers are able to communicate their value exchange to both brands and their audience. Direct relationships with individuals can be rebuilt or fortified using authentication mechanisms, like logins or signups for gated content. Publishers can then tailor content to individuals, elevating the user experience for consumers and strengthening these relationships.

“Secondly, publishers will need to work more closely with brands to diversify their revenue streams. There’s a lot of creativity in this space, and newer ideas like e-commerce, offering exclusive content, or creating monthly or annual products or rewards can deepen engagement.”

Karan Singh,
Senior Commercial Director, Xandr

“The identity crisis challenges both the buy and sell-sides of the programmatic ecosystem, presenting a strong opportunity for collaboration as we re-create a digital advertising industry that’s built on the ideals of consumer privacy and empowerment.

“In 2022, sellers and buyers need to collaborate to match their audiences, in a way that respects the consumers’ right to privacy. Addressable audiences are valuable, but they are difficult to activate, and therefore strong partnerships will be central to achieving effective targeting. I expect that we’ll also see more walled gardens/closed marketplaces appear in greater numbers next year, however, it’s crucial that these partnerships instill transparency and privacy into their blueprints from day one.”

Ultimately, 2022 will be the year of partnerships, both sides need to learn from and lean on each other to create a healthy ecosystem built on first-party consented data.

Karan Singh, Senior Commercial Director, Xandr

Julie Rubash,
Chief Privacy Counsel, Sourcepoint

“Moving into 2022 we’ll see more global privacy laws come into force. In the US in particular there will be revisions to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), Colorado Privacy Act (CPA), and Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA) which will mean more nuanced privacy laws to comply with. For those publishers and advertisers already struggling to keep abreast of an evolving landscape, it’s only going to become harder.

“With more regulation to abide by and with heightened enforcement, businesses will need to ensure they are working with trusted partners and implementing robust technology to ensure they remain compliant. Some of the trends we’ve been seeing in the most recent state privacy laws, like provisions for universal opt-outs, requiring consent for sensitive data, and reduced loopholes due to redefined legislation, will become staples of privacy and compliance. Consumers will have the right to appeal via a denial of rights request according to the VCDPA and CPA, and it’s likely other states will follow suit.

What will set businesses apart is when they truly embrace good data ethics as part of their ethos and stop seeing it as a simple ‘tick box’ exercise.

Julie Rubash, Chief Privacy Counsel, Sourcepoint

Mateusz Jędrocha,
Head of Upper Funnel Solutions Development, RTB House

“Contextual targeting will become even more prominent in the new year, especially for video.  Major programmatic advertising companies have already added contextual targeting to their portfolios. Some work mostly with their own solutions, delivering contextual audiences from external partners, whereas others are fully reliant on partnerships with services such as Oracle. Integrating contextual tools with the entire programmatic ecosystem is key.

“Thanks to advancements in technology, contextual targeting is one of the three most feasible ways to reach a target audience in the upcoming cookieless future. It creates a personalised experience allowing advertisers to reach the right audience, at the right time, in the right context, while fully respecting user privacy. With user privacy now at the forefront of digital advertising,  advertisers are expected to fully utilise this method of targeting in 2022.”

And let’s not forget about audio: It’s growing

Rich Williams,
Commercial Director, A Million Ads

“Audio consumption is rapidly increasing, with the growing popularity of streaming and podcasting dramatically switching the pendulum for advertisers. And those who prosper will be the ones who move quickly to ensure their advertising is contextually relevant.

“This is because audio is an intimate channel where consumers look for emotional connections and meaningful experiences. Indeed it is now the number one channel to reach younger audiences and brands should be looking to find creative ways to connect with their audiences on a personal level.

“Dynamic audio, for example, allows brands to tap into contextual data points such as the time of day, weather or even the listener’s location, which resonates across every audience. For instance, if it’s hot, a supermarket brand might want to send people to its stores to buy something for a  BBQ, and if it’s cold, they might want to promote something heartier and warming, like a casserole.”