Implications for Publishers: comScore’s Top 10 Trends in Digital Report

2017 Digital Advertising Trends from comScore | The Sterling Woods Group

Recently, comScore released its 2017 Top 10 Burning Issues in Digital Report. Their findings shed light on the issues and trends that are changing the way media buyers and sellers evaluate digital.

While we recommend exploring the whole report, of the 10 trends, these are the three that have the greatest impact on the publishing industry.

1. The Value of Attention

According to the report, “There must be a return to quality media environments and that conversation starts with placing more value on attention metrics…. Marketers who only seek out impressions or clicks at the lowest CPM open themselves up to poor-quality impressions, low engagement sites, and potentially non-brand safe environments.”

“Vanity metrics” are exactly that — and advertisers are starting to get the message that not all visits, pageviews, or clicks are created equally. I’ve beaten the drum in the past: traffic is important, but it’s not the end-all, be-all.

Rather, content creators who can truly engage their audience with valuable information and a meaningful brand have a leg up on their competition. Going deeper with fewer readers is a stronger model than trying to get a ton of people to spend a split second on your site. And the only way to nurture this deeper relationship is through quality content. Not only will better content lead to more meaningful engagements with your ads, it also opens your publication up to a variety of other monetization efforts.

2. Programmatic Pressure on CPMs

Advertisers fell in love with display ads and CPM payment models because they were promised they could reach hyper-specific audience groups on the cheap. But if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. In reality, for that higher target they sometimes have to narrow their reach to the detriment of their brand growth. Or, another problem: the cheap price point means cheap (read: low quality) website placements.

And the outlook isn’t much better for publishers. Trying to offload inventory at low rates is increasing pricing pressure on their placements across the board.

There is, however, a silver lining. As the desire for quality impressions outweighs quantity, marketers are showing they are willing to pay a premium to be showcased in better environments. This shift opens up a dialogue for more custom and native advertising with premium publishers. In fact, comScore conducted research in 2016 showing that premium publishers drive an average of 67% higher branding effectiveness.

Programmatic advertising isn’t going to disappear any time soon, of course, but the opportunity is ripe for publishers to help advertisers improve their ROI by investing in higher quality campaigns through native (or custom) advertising tactics.

3. Advanced Audience Data

As the report highlights, “Big data has been transforming the media industry for some time, but perhaps in no more significant way than in the growing application of advanced audience data.”

Data can help publishers across the board: finding advertisers, commanding premium rates for ads, finding new audiences, converting existing traffic, retaining and upselling existing subscribers, launching new products that will be well-received, and much more!

We’ve had a lot to say on the topic of how data can drive your publishing business. When you use data tactics like predictive analytics to your advantage, you are nearly three times more likely to report revenue growth above your industry average.

How Sterling Woods Group Can Help

At the Sterling Woods Group, we will help you address these three trends and much more in order to achieve consistent, double-digit growth. We teach our clients the five forces of revenue growth for publishers, and, at your option, we can even assist in execution if you need expanded capacity.

Want to learn more? Contact for a free 30-minute consultation.

About the Author, Rob Ristagno

Rob Ristagno is the founder of The Sterling Woods Group and partners with companies to drive rapid digital revenue growth. Prior to creating Sterling Woods, Rob served as a senior executive for several niche media and e-commerce companies. Rob started his career as a consultant at McKinsey and holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College. He has taught Product Strategy at Boston College.

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