Do online publishers have answer to advertising crisis?

Vihan-SharmaThe impact of Covid-19 has been felt deeply across every industry in the UK – and adtech is no exception. In fact, as many brands scramble to re-evaluate their predicted revenue for the indefinite period of the outbreak, advertising spend has been one of the first things to be slashed. This is so much so that the UK’s advertising market could be facing a drop of up to 50% this month. 

On the other hand, publishers are experiencing a surge in viewers, as people turn to digital news sources for trusted information. As many of us come up to nearly three months of working from home, print newspapers have reported a dramatic decrease in physical sales, while online news sources are seeing increased traffic and a surge in online subscriptions as more and more consumers are willing to pay for their news.

At the same time, however, many advertisers are making use of ‘blacklist’ technology to block ads from appearing next to stories that refer to the Covid-19 outbreak. This alone is estimated to cost UK newspapers over £50m in revenue in the next few months.

We must now get used to a landscape where the dynamics between brands and publishers have shifted dramatically, where advertisers are unwilling to spend, but also where publishers’ platforms – at least, beside stories that are unrelated to the outbreak – are more valuable than ever. So how can brands adapt and make the most of the situation?

Some businesses have, of course, seen increased demand due to the lockdown, for example food brands and home fitness companies. However, for many companies, this is a tough time, when they will inevitably need to make difficult decisions about their marketing budgets.

Making use of the boom in traffic to online publishers, could, however, be a smart long-term strategy. At a time when customers are spending more time than ever online, high exposure for brands may lead to a greater share of consumers after the outbreak.

As businesses have to be more careful than ever about where their marketing budget goes, they will want to stick to publishers which guarantee the best results, but also ensure that they are targeting the right consumers. More than ever, identifying the best platform and specific target audience online is key to brands’ advertising and survival in a tougher environment.

Traditionally, the best way to identify the right audiences at scale has been through the use of third-party cookies. However, though tried and tested, these cookies can be inaccurate, and often do not provide the same insight into customers’ backgrounds and behaviours as first-party cookies on businesses’ own websites.

As Google Chrome moves to phase out third-party cookies in the next two years, the face of digital marketing is already undergoing a change. This is something which has only been exacerbated by the current situation. For digital marketers to truly identify the best customers for their ads, they must make use of first party solutions and data sharing.

As digital marketing feels the pressure of Covid-19, marketers must adapt to the new situation and find novel strategies to connect with customers. This means realising the value of publishers in a new era and making use of solutions which focus on enhancing the value of the first party data.

Vihan Sharma is managing director Europe at LiveRamp

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