Advertising still remains the key revenue channel for most publishers, yet many publishers are unaware of what the ad industry expects from their supply partners. In this feature, we’ve spoken to a number of ad industry insiders about what they expect, and need, in 2023.

After a testing few years, publishers would be forgiven for wanting some stability in 2023. But with a looming recession, continuing covid repercussions, and upheaval on social platforms, publishers are once again facing a rapidly changing landscape.

Whilst audiences are continuing to increase their content consumption, especially audio and video, publishers will need to turn these increased eyeballs into hard ad revenue, whether that be through embracing new technologies or streamlining processes, as well as focusing on brand safety and quality.

Below are the insights of some of the industry’s leading voices on what they expect to happen in 2023.

There will be no easy answer to the cookieless future

Chris Hogg, Chief Revenue Officer, Lotame, says, “More publishers will start hitting a wall with their subscriptions. Gathering email addresses has been the core of many publisher first-party data strategies, but authenticated email has hard limits on how far it can scale. Any publisher looking to expand their audiences beyond email will be shopping around for alternative ID solutions, which we are already hearing today from vertical-focused publishers.

Publishers also won’t escape the impact of retail media networks. On one hand, they risk having ad spend they could once rely on being redirected to this new marketplace. On the other, they may find opportunity working with retail networks, and some are already doing so with Amazon to incorporate their header bidding solution. Either way, the power dynamics of the ecosystem are set to change.

Sergii Denysenko, CEO, MGID, adds, “No single alternative will replace the third-party cookie. Publishers will need to figure out a combination of solutions that will allow them to capitalize on advertisers’ changing attitudes toward a number of ad targeting practices, including contextual, retargeting, matched audiences, and others.

“Although it is a publisher-centric tool – especially for those that lack the scale or technical expertise to test and incorporate different identity solutions – seller-defined audiences is a new solution that will need to gain the trust of ad players in 2023.”

Julien Gardès, Managing Director, Supply – EMEA & APAC, TripleLift comments, “Tackling the addressability gap will continue to be a prime focus next year. As awareness increases around the pitfalls of adopting a one-solution approach to cookieless targeting, publisher-led initiatives will drive the innovation that will enable marketers to test and adopt a mix of solutions to maximize their addressability efforts. Publisher first-party data will be the fuel to power privacy-centric targeting, while improved supply path optimization strategies will lead to more efficient, quality buying and ultimately better ad experiences for consumers.”

Ian Liddicoat, Chief Technology Officer and Head of Data Science, Adludio, says, “More and more tech companies and brands will be seeking to generate and control their customer data which will lead to some consolidation in traditional ad tech providers as well as the launch of new, very agile players that address specific audiences, interests or devices. These new entrants will steadily circumvent the walled garden’s wholesale use of behavioral data by generating, owning and monetizing it inside their own environments.“

Jeremy Fain, Co-Founder & CEO, Cognitiv, adds, “The adoption of a broad, industry-based, privacy-first identification solution will be essential to publishers capturing the lion’s share of advertisers’ revenue. Returning to solutions of the past – contextual and unaccountable – will only benefit the walled-garden monopolies and accelerate publishers’ demise. A privacy-first alternative ID system is an all-around win for publishers, marketers, and the people of the world. Without it, publishers will see a material decrease in CPMs and sell-through.”

Janine Pollack, Marketing Director, MNI Targeted Media concludes, “Today’s systems must be privacy-first. For example, Google’s introduction of Topics has a limited number of advertising categories, and a user’s data will not be stored for a period greater than three weeks. By emphasizing increased privacy protections, publishers can promote themselves as safe havens. Consumers will appreciate the protection of their personal information, and brands will be able to benefit from increased traffic to these sites as a result.”

Data Collaboration will become important

Hugh Stevens, Head of Strategic Growth at LiveRamp says, “Data collaboration will continue developing into one of the backbones of modern digital advertising, and in 2023 brands will continue to find different ways to connect their customer data sets strategically. The ability to unlock profiled new audiences, improve campaign planning and to improve measurement will provide a great deal of value for media owners and the brands or agencies they work closely with.”

Marketers who know their audiences thoroughly, through the use of sophisticated data collaboration strategies, will be one step ahead when the economy stabilizes.

Reachability becomes a key metric for brands

Ned Jones, Head of Advertiser Customer Success, Permutive says that in 2023, reachability will begin to overtake addressability as the new key audience metric for brands.

“Browsing in cookie-blocked environments (such as Safari & FireFox), or independently disabling cookies, already renders 70% of consumers on the open web unreachable to advertisers today. Reachability places emphasis on an advertiser’s ability to access their target audience outside of the over-saturated 30% of the open web, where the large majority of traditional programmatic buying practice is focused today.”

2023 will begin to usher in a new way of buying and selling media; one that acknowledges the reach problem that exists today and works proactively to prioritize consumer privacy while driving revenue for advertisers and publishers.

Cautious advertisers will need brand safety guarantees

“The big question next year will revolve around which contextual ad partners can deliver on the promise of optimal brand safety without compromising targeting accuracy. Contextual targeting is one of the strongest contenders to replace cookie-based targeting. But while the benefits of this strategy have been much discussed over the past few years – how well it works is another matter.” according to Rob Sewell, CEO, SmartFrame Technologies.

He adds, “While AI has come on leaps and bounds, it’s no secret that it still makes mistakes when it comes to blocking legitimate ads and placements, as well as missing unsafe content. Human verification is still necessary to provide nuance, to balance efficiency with accuracy. So any reputable contextual ad partner will need to demonstrate that it’s effectively using both to achieve the best results.”

Csaba Szabo, Managing Director, EMEA, IAS, comments, “Publishers are for the first time monetizing greater ad revenue and introducing programmatic solutions into emerging channels such as CTV, audio, and gaming. By doing so, publishers are tapping into a more differentiated pool of demand.

It is important for publishers to recognize these opportunities amongst advertisers, who are demanding transparency in new channels to match brand safety and suitability measures that they are already experiencing from web-based online advertising.

In 2023, advancement in technology and greater media attention have the net opportunity for publishers to maximise the potential of these channels and for advertisers to better target new customer bases.

Quality in everything

Sivan Tafla, CEO, Total Media Solutions

“Publishers need to make quality a habit in 2023. This goes beyond first-class content – everything a publisher does has to be of the highest standard. This means optimising websites against Google’s Core Web Vitals, ensuring ad inventory placement is effective, and constantly ensuring high levels of quality are maintained.

“It’s understandable that the economic situation will sit at the front of publishers’ minds next year, but they cannot lose sight of the bigger picture, especially the loss of third-party data. Those who continue to focus on implementing first-party data solutions will find themselves in a stronger position as the economy starts to recover.”

Decentralization can help make the ad ecosystem more transparent

Ben Putley, CEO and Co-Founder, Alkimi

“Publishers have been getting the raw end of the programmatic deal for too long, with ad tech intermediaries taking liberties with their cut of the spend while a lack of transparency in the supply chain makes auditing all but impossible. Some publishers can go 100% direct with their deals, but open programmatic will remain a vital source of revenue for many.

“Traditional ad exchanges are too large and fragmented to deliver the change publishers need. By rebuilding the foundations of programmatic with cutting-edge blockchain technology — which offers total transparency and minimal fees by default — decentralized ad exchanges deliver the fair value exchange publishers deserve. Decentralization is more than technology, it’s the key to a thriving and diverse online world.”

Ecommerce powers ahead amidst economic uncertainty

Hector Pantazopolous, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer, SourceKnowledge comments, “2023 will bring an increased focus on savings, discounts and comparative shopping. We predict this trend will lead publishers to continue creating authentic and relevant content geared toward selling products, providing reviews and comparisons, and offering savings to shoppers. Content pieces such as reviews, listicles and gift guides help inform purchase decisions, while discounts/coupons provide an incentive to help shoppers make it through checkout. With a focus on helping shoppers save during unstable financial times, publishers can also increase their yield.”

(As published on WNIP)