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6 publisher trends that will dominate 2022

Steve Myslinski, January 19, 2022

Key takeaways:

  • Publishers will look to diversify revenue streams further with commerce and interest-based newsletters.
  • A first-party data strategy is no longer nice to have but a necessity.
  • Demand for audio content will continue to grow.
2022, publisher trends

Life and business are in flux as we enter a third year of pandemic existence. While the Omicron strain threatens the routines we were just getting back to, 2022 doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, especially for digital publishers who are used to adapting and evolving.

This year will see the continuation of several trends that have been building steam; some were spurred into action because of the pandemic and others because of technology and consumer demands (we’re looking at you, cookie deprecation!). If necessity is the mother of invention, this is a prime time for publishers to reinvent themselves.

Below are the six trends that we predict will lead the publishing industry this year.

1. Content-commerce collaborations increase 

Even before digital consumption dominated daily life, publishers used multiple revenue streams to support their business, including ads, advertorials, and subscriptions. Although advertising still generates the most revenue, publishers are embracing new revenue streams. According to Digiday, 64% of publishers rely on direct product sales as a revenue stream, and 72% say that affiliate marketing generates a part of their earnings.

Public trust in social media is at an all-time low. Consumers are spending more time on the open web, opening the door for publishers to leverage the trust they already have with audiences to sell them products. Although reports indicate 94% of publishers use affiliate marketing, we expect to see publishers produce more content that includes product recommendations from affiliate programs they are a part of and more direct sales deals with brands.

2. Diversified monetization strategy

According to eMarketer, digital advertising will continue to grow but not at the crazy record-setting pace of 2021. The pandemic taught us that no business, publishers included, should have all their revenue-generating eggs in one basket (or two when we consider commerce trends).

For publishers that haven’t yet jumped on the newsletter train, now is the time. Newsletters can help publishers develop deeper, direct relationships with readers. While that doesn’t offer an immediate financial payoff, a dedicated readership is attractive to brands that can advertise in it or sponsor it. In fact, the Washington Post was able to amass such consistent readership and a 40% open rate with their coronavirus newsletter, Slack, Salesforce, and Goldman Sachs all became sponsors.

Subscription models will continue to make a strong showing, but some consumers report feeling fatigued will all the content available on the open web, further noting that they prefer content-specific newsletters instead.

3. Consumers want to listen, not just read

Between audiobooks and podcasts, audio has captured consumers’ attention, or ears as the case may be. Edison Research found that some 80 million Americans listened to podcasts weekly in 2021, a 20% increase from 2020. Publishers can use audio to connect with audiences at times when users want to consume content but can’t read, like when they are driving.  

Top publishers including The New Yorker, The Economist, and The Atlantic all offer readers narrated articles, not in place of written content but in addition to it. Publishers interested in this booming trend can partner with a service to create narrated content versions (like we do) or monetize their audio content through revenue-sharing agreements with audio apps such as Audm.  

4. Capitalizing on a first-party data strategy

With the demise of the cookie looming on the horizon, current privacy regulations, and consumer-initiated tracking prevention, publishers need to reassess their data collection strategies. This isn’t news, but smaller publishers have been slower to implement strategies. We expect more of these publishers to adopt a few tried and tested collection methods this year, mainly because they are quick and easy to implement.  

People are motivated by value and trade-offs. Publishers can use premium content or exclusive promotions to incentivize audiences to share at least some data like an email address. Piggybacking on that, as logins will become more commonplace, so will simplified registrations and logins. Giving users the ability to sign in quickly with a social media or Google ID will cut friction and give publishers access to more data.

5. Readers influence content production 

Competition is becoming stiffer across every industry. To create brand loyalists, businesses are becoming more customer-centric, offering products, services, and solutions that speak to customer needs. Digital publishers are also taking this approach, analyzing traffic and data to see which stories get the most clicks and using that to inform their content strategy and production. With publishers now accumulating more first-party data, making those content decisions is even easier.

A number of publishers have been using questionnaires to gather information about what piques their audience’s interest, and we expect to see more publishers implement this tactic along with other engaging formats such as quizzes and polls. As a small example, a publisher could poll readers to determine how interested they would be in audio content before allocating a portion of their budget to creating it.

6. Continued focus on UX 

We mentioned that businesses are becoming customer-centric, and Google is no different. However, for Google, customer-centric, at least partially, equates to serving users content that delivers a great user experience (UX). 

Google will continue to ramp up its Web Vitals program, which means publishers will need to find ways to improve their sites, and those that have been slow to change will need to kick change into high gear. We expect to see some major site redesigns that improve page load times, stability, navigation, and the ad experience consumers see. We don’t know if Google will add new signals to its algorithm, but it’s best to optimize for the current signals, so should new ones be introduced, the workload is achievable. 

Looking at the year ahead

The reality is that no one can predict the future, which is both daunting and exciting. What publishers should do is prepare for knowable situations like the need for first-party data and the eventual loss of cookies. Beyond that, diversifying revenue streams with audio, newsletters, advertising and commerce can future-proof a company as much as possible. In the end, the advice is the same: test new strategies, evaluate what works, and optimize along the way.

If you have questions about how to implement any of these trends, get in touch with us.

About the author Steve Myslinski is the Senior Director of Sales for EMEA at Total Media Solutions and brings years of experience helping publishers realize their true potential for monetizing their inventory.

Starting out as an engineer in the automotive industry, before getting his MBA and joining the adtech industry, he provides a unique approach to sales with an analytical and problem solving style to addressing a publishers needs.

Find Steve on LinkedIn or reach him ">by email.

Publisher’s guide: The magic ingredient: Content that adds value

Ryan Rakover, August 17, 2021

Key takeaways

  • Original engaging content should be a top priority. Providing value-added content and information is the number one way to organically increase your traffic, build your brand reputation and solidify trust levels in the face of the fake news era.
  • The user-first experience is second only to content and should take precedent over monetization. If you offer a poor user experience, not only will you be penalized by Google’s newest algorithm update but you’ll also lose the ability to attract and retain readers.
  • Monetize properly and appropriately. Once you are producing the right content and have optimized the user experience, then focus on monetization efforts and ensure you are using the best placements, formats, ad stacks, and partners.

Follow this publisher’s guide to ensure that all of the content you produce and the user experience you offer creates value and trust with your audience.

publisher's guide, Content That Adds Value

Whether you’re launching a new website or looking for ways to optimize an existing one, think of yourself as a chef because that analogy will serve you well. Your website is the plate, and each piece of content is an item of food placed on the plate.

Chefs understand that experience is everything for a customer, and judgments begin as soon as someone steps into a restaurant. People eat with their eyes first, so plates need to look appealing. Then, as diners take bite after bite, all the ingredients need to meld together and dance on the palette. A website is the same. Visitors start to assess the site as soon as they land on the page, taking in visual information and content.

While many publishers start out like chefs, crafting their content with great care, they often get bogged down and derailed by monetization opportunities, ad stacks that don’t perform, outdated roadmaps, and more. Don’t get us wrong – you’re running a business, and that business needs to make money. But without high-performing content that attracts loyal readers, all of those efforts are about as valuable as an overcooked piece of Kobe beef. It’s time to rethink the fundamental pillars of content so you can whip up articles that readers want to consume.

In this post, we’ll explore all of the elements that you need to mix together to produce irresistible content that builds trust with your audience and establishes you as a reliable, go-to source in an era of fake news and misinformation.

Publisher’s guide: The perfect content recipe

You have one chance to make a first impression, so executing on both design and user experience is paramount. That means you need to pay special attention to the look and feel of your content and the user journey.

Users will either arrive at your site directly because they’re familiar with your brand or because they were sent there from a search result or ad. The first audience already trusts you but expects you to consistently deliver a great experience. The second group is more fragile and needs to determine how trustworthy you are. What makes both of these groups stick around? The same things.

Adding value to content, publisher's guide, online publication
Look and feel of your content and the user journey
Image courtesy: VISUAL CAPITALIST

The appetizers: URLs, dates, and authors

Choosing the right URL is critical. While a ‘.com’ is still king, you may not find one that matches your publication name. In that case, look for other top-level domains (such as ‘.co’ or ‘.biz’), industry-specific options (‘.realestate’ or ‘.travel’), or geolocation (‘.uk’ or ‘.eu’). You can also look at some less common endings that can be built into your brand name, as Visual.ly did.

Like food, fresh or recent dates on blog posts is always preferable. A Shout Me Loud case study showed that blog posts with dates enhanced the user experience but older dates negatively impacted keyword ranking and traffic when displayed in Google’s SERP. Satisfy user needs and improve search results by showing dates on posts but hiding them from search engines. If you produce evergreen content, make sure to continually refresh pages with new content and add a ‘last updated’ date.

Authenticity and authority are important indicators for your readers and Google’s algorithm to determine your content’s value. Including the author’s name at the beginning of an article helps establish credibility immediately. Chefs use this technique to attract visitors to new restaurants all the time – a reservation at Bobby Flay Steak, anyone?

The main course: Headers, content, and sources

People have short attention spans, so content needs to be easy to scan for those looking for a quick info fix and well organized for those who want to savor the article. Make sure you use a clean, easy-to-read font and have accessibility options. Use headers to divide content sections and keep paragraphs short.

The content should be well written, error-free, and laid out in an attractive design; otherwise, you’ll reduce your respectability. If ad content disrupts the user experience, it’ll be another strike against you. Above all, make sure the ‘meat’ of your content matches the title. Nothing makes a user bounce or become more frustrated than a user feeling like they’ve landed on clickbait that didn’t deliver the information promised.

Articles should include clear and accessible links to reputable sources, especially when quoting statistics or referencing research. High authority links improve SEO, show readers you’re well-versed and aligned with industry leaders, and give them the option to explore topics in more depth, which they will appreciate. If you have related content pieces already published on your site, include links to those pieces as well.

The dessert: Author bios, related content

Naming the author at the beginning of the post is a must, but you should also include a more in-depth author bio box after the article. This allows the author to demonstrate their expertise and background, providing your audience with additional insights into who’s sharing information, further boosting trust.

If a user reaches the end of an article, you’ve already captured their attention, and it’s the perfect time to suggest related content. Recommend other stories they might be interested in to increase their engagement or mix it up with ad content from other sites to increase your monetization efforts.

layout, improve content, CMS, Author Bios, Related Content, publisher's guide
Image courtesy: Blogher

The doggie bag for online publishers: A final thought

In a world where everyone approaches the ‘new’ with a high level of skepticism, you need to win over first-time users and turn them into brand loyalists. Do that by giving them amazing content and an excellent user experience.

Routinely revisit your site with fresh eyes and take an objective look at how your site feels to a new user. Consider how easily a visitor could navigate the site. Think about whether the content is relevant to your audience and provides the answers they are seeking.

If all of those elements are on track, then you’ve prioritized your readers, and it’s time to dig into your monetization efforts. Evaluate your ad placements and see if they are disruptive or cause content to shift, disturbing visitors. Finally, think about whether you could be using different ad formats or monetization partners and platforms to maximize your revenue. Follow all these steps, and you’ll set yourself up for a five-star review.

Ryan Rakover is the head of our Trust and Safety efforts at Total Media Solutions. One of the things Ryan enjoys the most in his role as a publisher’s strategic partner is the challenge of bringing policy from a place of rules and standards to delivering solutions to clients to improve their client’s bottom line. Find Ryan on LinkedIn or reach him by email.

Google AdManager Update: Privacy and Messaging

Ryan Rakover, August 9, 2021

Introducing the new Total Media logo

Brian Blondy, July 30, 2018

 

 

 

Dear Valued Total Media Blog Reader,

 

We are proud to announce that we launched a new logo today, marking the most significant change to our visual identity in 13 years. Founded in 2005, we have grown to become one of the most trusted companies in the programmatic industry.  On the eve of our upcoming website launch as well as our planned corporate presence at DMEXCO in September 2018, the refreshed logo pays homage its previous iteration while simultaneously pointing the way toward the next chapter of our evolution. The new logo aims to visually express our focus on expanding our ability to deliver a full spectrum of technologies, media and services across our evolving portfolio to both publishers and advertisers.

2013-2018 logo

Our legacy logo, unveiled in 2013, has been refreshed to now anchor the word ‘TOTAL’ in a bright and dynamic RGB color spectrum. The inclusion of the stylistic roots of the previous logo, as well as the addition of color, is meant to visually convey our mission, maintain historical continuity while at the same time, present a stunning visualization of the evolution and totality of our expansive portfolio for both publishers and advertisers.

“Our mission as a company is to provide the highest level of interaction between our clients and media platforms by providing expertise and access to leading partners and services,” said Sivan Tafla, CEO of Total Media. “We believe that our new logo will act as a welcoming and trustworthy signpost to both publishers and advertisers, new visitors and existing clients alike, who are seeking core technology platforms, holistic monetization, actionable data-insights, first-class consulting, and value-added services.”

 

 

The new logo has been rolled out across our digital and physical properties around the world and is currently the foundation of a stylistic re-design of our new website for better serving the needs of publishers and advertisers worldwide. The new site is scheduled to be unveiled in early September 2018. New marketing materials will use the refreshed logo going forward.  Existing materials will continue to use the current logo during the transition period. We appreciate your kind support.

 

Would you like to schedule a meeting to meet with us at DMEXCO?

 

Brian Blondy is the Marketing Manager at Total Media.  You can contact Brian by email at brian(at)totalmediasolutions.com or on LinkedIn