Exploring new revenue streams, such as paywalls and eCommerce, is an intelligent move for publishers, but they shouldn’t lose sight of optimising their existing ones. With digital ad spend forecast bouncing back by more than 25%, surpassing $191 billion this year, advertising should remain an integral part of the monetization mix. Therefore, publishers should be looking to up their game and attract their share of ad spend.

Diversifying ad solutions will be crucial to achieving this. By focusing on targeting and utilising different ad formats, publishers can ensure no ad money is left on the table.

Cashing in on contextual

With 97% of consumers concerned about their data privacy and third-party cookies set for retirement next year, publishers and advertisers must rethink their targeting strategies. While Google’s delay gives the digital ecosystem an extended grace period to find and test workable alternatives, publishers must make finding 100% privacy-friendly targeting methods a key priority now.

Contextual solutions allow publishers to target ads based on page content rather than third-party data. By ensuring ads are highly relevant to current user intent and the content audiences consume, publishers can ensure they maximize engagement levels.

For example, a B2B ad is most relevant when users are consuming business news. If the user saw that same ad while looking through restaurant or vacation reviews, its impact is significantly reduced – or even lost. Reaching audiences through their specific interests, as determined by the content they are consuming, generates more substantial outcomes for advertisers. With over two-thirds (69%) of audiences stating they are likely to respond to a contextually relevant ad, the publishers that can deliver this will be the ones that secure the highest investment from ad buyers.

Focusing on formats

Another consumer trend publishers must account for is the growing diversification of digital media consumption. Today’s audiences traverse a multi-media landscape. To capture their attention in a competitive market, publishers must ensure they offer ad inventory for various formats, from display and video to native. In doing so, publishers can meet both advertiser and audience needs, which boosts revenue per session.

What’s more, instead of limiting ad placements to one format, publishers can utilize technologies that allow them to serve multiple formats in a single placement. In combination with this, they can employ advanced yield optimisation techniques to identify the ad format which will generate the highest yield for a particular placement based on specific conditions.

This flexibility dramatically minimises the risks attached to relying on any one demand source. Prior to the disruption of 2020, video’s popularity was on the rise due to both its effectiveness as a revenue driver and its high CPMs, provided minimum player size and viewability metrics were implemented. Following the squeeze on ad budgets and reduced investment in digital video, however, publishers that depended too heavily on this format were adversely affected. By ensuring ad inventory is adaptable, publishers can safeguard against this and select the best formats during any circumstances.

Prioritising premium marketplaces

Alongside enhancing inventory flexibility, publishers must also focus on improving its availability. To maximize digital ad revenues, publishers should allow advertisers to buy impressions via their favored means of a transaction — a simple yet effective tactic to bolster yield — and programmatic channels are often the preferred method for buyers.

Industry forecasts for 2021 show that ad spending for programmatic digital display is approaching $97 billion, meaning it will account for more than 89% of all digital display investment. When increasing inventory through programmatic, publishers need to seek demand from private marketplaces rather than relying too heavily on open exchanges. Buyer entry and deal terms are more closely controlled in PMPs, enabling publishers to work with reputable brands and attract ad buyers who are increasingly looking for premium, brand-safe inventory through programmatic channels.

With 94% of publishers experiencing a rebound in revenue, outlooks for the future seem promising. However, this doesn’t mean things should return to the way they were before. Even though digital advertising is now reaffirming itself as a dominant revenue stream, publishers must seize the opportunity to take their monetisation strategies to the next level. Enabling effective, privacy-friendly targeting alternatives, offering flexible ad placements, and boosting inventory availability are hugely important for making the most of the ad spend rebound. Going forwards, optimising every element of the monetisation mix will be necessary for publishers to grow their bottom line and support quality editorial content.

(As published on SODP)