Digital Publishing Top Stories
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New Year predictions: data security, trust and transparency dominate

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It’s that time of year. Predictions. With the New Year a mere few hours away, we have gathered the opinions of a number of media industry CEOs and commentators for their take on what 2019 might hold. 

Like most other sectors, media is not immune from the headwinds confronting society on a multitude of fronts – ecologically, economically, culturally, politically and technologically. But amidst the challenges, disruption, and insecurity, opportunities will present themselves for those publishers willing to forge an entrepreneurial mindset and take risks. 

2019 will also see a need for increased collaboration. As Ronan Harris, MD UK & Ireland, Google, pointed out during the recent AOP Summit in Westminster, “15% of searches we see each day have never been seen before which demonstrates the pace of change in wider society, and this pace of change will force us to collaborate much closer together.”

Whether that collaboration will be voluntary or thrust upon us is altogether another question. Unless publishers and tech platforms can ensure data privacy, transparency, ethics and trust, 2019 could be the year that politics intervenes. As James Harding, ex-Editor of the Times warned the tech platforms in this year’s Hugh Cudlipp lecture, “don’t underestimate the power of the state to intervene.” We shall see.

Without further ado, here are a few predictions for 2019:

Brian Kane, COO and Co-Founder, Sourcepoint

“Post-GDPR and with the rise of new data privacy regulations in the US, consent will continue to be an important factor as we move into 2019. We anticipate that – following the UK’s planned exit from the EU – the focus will remain on data privacy legislation, even though GDPR in its current form will not be applicable post-Brexit. There may be short-term confusion on legislative requirements but it’s safe to say that data privacy will remain a focus. Add to this the additional requirements of the planned ePrivacy Directive and it’s clear that privacy and respectful use of consumers’ personal data will remain front of mind for publishers.

“Publishers that concentrate on improving transparency in how user data is collected, used, and stored, will enhance customer relationships built on a foundation of trust and choice.”

Thomas Bremond, General Manager, International, FreeWheel and Comcast Technology Solutions

“Brand safety, trust and transparency will continue to be the focus in 2019. Safeguarding the quality of their digital video inventory is paramount for publishers wanting to attract advertising spend on their channels and at the same time optimise the user experience.

“Video is the most engaging form of digital content and it’s not hard to see why its share of the market continues to grow. Prioritising premium content is the key for publishers to stay ahead of the competition and deliver a viewable, fraud-free and brand-safe environment for advertisers to operate in.

“Publishing alliances such as The Ozone Project, where major publishers such as The Guardian, UK News and The Telegraph are pooling digital ad inventory, represent a significant step towards creating the future marketplace. We can expect more publishers to follow this trend in the next few years. Also, investing in the right technology will boost buyer confidence in the integrity of the inventory they’re purchasing, and allow publishers to pursue more effective monetisation strategies.”

Marino Gualano, General Manager and Co-Founder, MainAd  

“Digital advertising has often received negative attention due to the high number of irrelevant and intrusive ads that are being placed incorrectly. However, harnessing the power of machine learning (ML) can help overcome these issues, bridging the gap between publishers and brands, and improving campaign optimisation.

“Publishers themselves often take the blame for bad digital ad practices when in reality they are relying on affiliate marketing. Publishers need to take back control and recognise the impact this can have on an advertiser’s brand, as well as their own reputation. Choosing their technology partners wisely is a fundamental step, so that ads, and consumer incentives, are only placed alongside appropriate content.”

Nick Welch, VP Business Development UK and Northern Europe, ADmantX

“With global brands including Mars, Spotify and Land Rover all encountering brand safety breaches and a staggering 77% of consumers confirming that seeing an ad next to unsavoury content could damage their perception of the brand, it is vital action is taken to address this in 2019.

“Brands must move beyond a standardised concept of what is unsafe – such as hate speech, adult content, illegal content and world news – and instead take a deep dive into brand care: the creation of solutions that consider the core values of a particular brand and potentially negative contexts that relate specifically to them. Shifting from outdated techniques such as keyword search terms, blacklists and whitelists, to advanced semantic technologies can help identify the precise context – as well as an accurate understanding of sentiment at page level – ensuring placements are safe, unintrusive, and effective.”

Rick Jones, Senior Vice President, Global Revenue Development, Adform

“The issue with walled gardens is that vast amounts of data flow into them, but only a fraction is then accessible. This makes it very hard to build a 360 view of target audiences or customers – which is where so much of the value of data stems from – and a big issue for advertisers who value their data. 

“The way the walled gardens operate is reflected in the dwindling trust in the services offered. If there’s one thing we learned in 2018, it’s that the much talked about data control, clean data handling, and reliable metrics aren’t that far off. The fronts between the big tech players and the independent providers in all industries have long since hardened. So, it is all the more understandable that the call for alternatives is becoming louder. In marketing, it is ultimately the cross-platform user identity that allows tracking and personalised targeting of the user, even outside the walled gardens. While a lot of preparatory work has gone into this topic this year, we at Adform expect the industry to go to market in 2019 with a real counterweight.”

Simon Theakston, Co-founder and Managing Partner of SBDS

“As we look ahead to 2019 we will also see more ‘friendly’ companies setting up agreements to share data and insights. Think about News Corp’s advertising platform News IQ, which launched earlier this year. This is a prime example of a second party data partnership; the platform pulls together audience data from all of its publications – this is then be used by advertisers to target based on audience opinions and emotions.

“Stemming from this, there will be more alignment of supply and demand in the advertising value chain: advertisers bringing their own data to publishers for suppression or targeting.”

Ian Woolley, Chief Revenue Officer, Ensighten

“Regulation was a hot topic in 2018 spurred on by GDPR coming into force and it will continue to dominate conversation in 2019 as other global policies such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) play out. The challenge we’ll see for global organisations is managing the nuances of regional data practices simultaneously. Technology will help companies navigate this but as we’ve seen with GDPR there are various interpretations of what regulation means. As such, many businesses may opt to employ the strictest data practices and processes companywide to avoid potential slip-ups and penalties.

“2018 has been a learning curve. New data regulation has revealed issues that many companies were not even aware of. This, in the long term, is a good thing for data owners and also their customers. However, businesses are still in the process of addressing the security of their data and this will continue to trip up organisations in 2019.”

Michael Kruger, Head of Digital at LEWIS Global Communications

“Over the last few years, live video has been a constant trend appearing in the predictions so it’s no surprise that it continues to remain on the list.

“Augmented reality will also become more accessible. Snapchat recently launched Snap Originals, a feature that uses AR to allow you to interact and watch original television programming created by Snapchat. It allows you to step right into the programme you are watching. The best way to think about this is to remember Pokémon Go, but instead of finding a Pokémon on your street, you discover what could appear next in your favourite Snap Original show.”

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO of Socialbakers 

“In 2018, it became clear that influencer marketing should not be considered an experimental or boutique advertising model. It is a big enabler of revenue, and big brands are getting on board. It’s estimated that influencer marketing ad spending will reach $10 billion by 2020. But in this golden age of influencer marketing, there is also a good deal of fraud. In 2019, social media marketers learned they need to do their due diligence before investing in an influencer– and watch out for fake fans, fake engagement, and fake interests. If brands aren’t vigilant, they’ll become victims of influencer fraud, and risk the fines and reputation that goes with this.”

Noam Neumann, COO of Glispa

“In 2018 we’ve already seen a decrease in marketers using purely brand awareness raising tactics in favour of KPI-based campaigns. It’s become more important than ever to accurately measure marketing efforts to understand exactly how they contribute to the bottom line.

“In 2019, we expect to seean increase in performance marketing, particularly on mobile and specifically in-app, as it can deliver insights against definitive metrics such as app downloads or in-app purchases, providing marketers with a precise understanding of how individual tactics are performing.”

Simon Thorne, UK Country Director at Flashtalking

“There’s no doubt that video will continue to grow in prominence across the omnichannel marketing landscape and drive growth across the industry. But as the lines become increasingly blurred between online video, OTT, and linear television, we will see a growing need for brands to collect and use data effectively to connect, and captivate audience attention.”

Download WNIP’s Media Moments 2018 report, which dives deeper into this year’s developments in publishing, and looks at what opportunities 2019 could usher in. The report is free and can be downloaded here.