The past year has thrown publishers into some rough waters, especially with a dip in ad revenues due to traffic and signal loss. The heart of this challenge lies in the dwindling addressability across the open web. With Chrome bidding farewell to third-party cookies and users adopting cookie-blocked browsers and ad blockers, publishers have lost signals for a whopping 70% of the internet.

Forecasts are projecting a hefty $54 billion global loss in ad revenue for publishers in 2024 due to ad blocking. While ad revenue is on a slow recovery, publishers are exploring other money streams to turn 2024 into a profitable year.

Despite the uncertainties, there are some things that publishers definitely shouldn't expect in 2024. Join us as we debunk myths and uncover what publishers should steer clear of in the coming year.

Myth #1: Immediate ROI from Privacy Changes

Publishers were hopeful that the end of widespread third-party tracking would quickly boost their profits and control over audiences. However, the reality is more intricate. The industry hasn't agreed on what post-third-party tracking will look like, leading to a variety of identity solutions. Authenticated IDs, reliant on user consent within a publisher's domain, show promise, but their actual market value is uncertain. Publishers might need to wait longer for the anticipated gains as the industry adapts to evolving standards and implements alternatives to third-party tracking.

In addition, it is quite possible that the cookie timeline will be delayed again, shifting the focus in 2024 towards combining privacy-first solutions. Publishers and advertisers may prioritize contextual strategies and embrace universal identifiers, both probabilistic and deterministic, for effective monetization post a challenging 2023.

Myth #2: AI as Unconditional Assistant

As the AI boom continues, publishers should avoid seeing it as a universal solution. While AI brings efficiency, it also poses challenges. AI-generated content, though efficient, can risk becoming formulaic and eroding user trust, as seen in the rise of Made for Advertising (MFA) sites flooded with such content. Google's emphasis on unique content raises concerns about an overflow of generic AI-generated material that increases the risk of information overload. Users may struggle to find valuable insights amid automated outputs, posing challenges for publishers in standing out.

To make AI a helpful ally, publishers should balance it with human creativity, prioritize quality over quantity and adopt a user-centric approach. Ethical AI practices, avoiding manipulation and ensuring transparency, are crucial for building user trust. Quality content investments benefit publishers and attract loyal audiences. Those neglecting content quality for lower-quality traffic won't see the same advantages.

Myth #3: Benefits from Open Marketplace Deals

The stark reality: the open marketplace (OMP) has lost its effectiveness. Consumer choice and cookie deprecation have slashed addressability to 30%. Google will begin phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome by Q4 next year, hindering the use of audience data, frequency control and reach measurement. This has led to a sharp decline in publisher OMP revenue and a loss of market share for brands.

So, the addressability gap widens. With budgets flowing through open marketplace pipes on a decline, the challenges in the open web are evident. Digiday's research highlights a significant 83% revenue loss for publishers in the open marketplace in 2023. To navigate these challenges, publishers are turning to direct relationships with advertisers, expanding their reach beyond the constrained 30% available in the open marketplace. Notably, data shows a substantial 62% increase in direct-sold audience revenue in Q2 2023. Forward-thinking publishers are capitalizing on the value of both endemic and non-endemic audiences by transitioning their strategies to direct sales.

Myth #4: One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Content Success

Publishers should not rely on just traditional text: they should embrace video and interactive content. Video's significance will grow as brands increasingly incorporate it into advertising. According to a report, viewers are likely to retain 95% of information from video compared to 10% from text. Platforms like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube saw a surge in video consumption last year, prompting brands to align their ad campaigns with these trends.

The recent release of IAB Tech Lab’s amended video guidelines presents an opportunity for publishers to provide more transparent signals to buyers. These guidelines go beyond instream or outstream, including pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll ads, offering chances to expose users to discoverable content beyond their initial intent. A recent report revealed that 57% of people aged 18-34 are more likely to engage with a video ad if its content aligns with the article they are reading. By leveraging video content, especially during key events like elections and the Olympics, publishers can create more engaging experiences. Brands, in turn, will find value in partnering with publishers capable of breaking through the noise and delivering compelling narratives through video and interactive content.

Myth #5: "Just Place a Link" Affiliate Relationships Dominance

In the upcoming year, publishers are encouraged to enhance their affiliate marketing strategies by adopting a more holistic approach. This means going beyond traditional affiliate links and engaging in collaborative content creation and joint ventures, such as co-hosted podcasts. This shift is essential for a couple of reasons.

This approach is more interesting because it fosters genuine connections. It's not just about selling a product; it's about crafting a narrative, sharing insights, and creating an experience for the audience. Collaborative efforts bring diverse perspectives, making the content richer and more engaging. Moreover, it allows publishers to stand out in a crowded digital space. Rather than being perceived as solely transactional, publishers become valuable resources and creators, offering a unique blend of information and entertainment.

Wrapping Up: What is to Expect Then?

As publishers navigate the evolving landscape of 2024, it's crucial to prepare for the changes while embracing opportunities for growth. While uncertainties may linger, there's no need to fear the unknown. Navigating a cookieless world involves implementing identity solutions, collaborating with trusted providers, testing options, and leveraging first-party data. Integrating contextual targeting respects user privacy while offering personalized experiences — an essential paradigm shift for publishers.

Success lies in staying adaptable and leveraging the right tools. MGID stands as a valuable partner, offering publishers a multitude of monetization opportunities and cutting-edge AI-based tools to thrive in the post-cookie environment. With 100% control over their audience, publishers can wield technology to engage and retain users effectively. Register at MGID today and discover the full spectrum of opportunities waiting for you.