Digiday Publishing Summit Highlights

June 20, 2019
April 4, 2019
Last week we found ourselves in the mountains of Colorado at the 2019 Digiday Publisher Summit. As we settle back into our post-Vail lives, I wanted to capture a few themes emerging from last week’s summit and associated client conversations. 
Thought Leadership

Arbitrage is No Longer a Dirty Word

Well, maybe that is pushing it a bit ;) But nearly every publisher we talked to at the summit was grappling with a new norm that has organic traffic disappearing in a dust storm of broken promises and changing algorithms of social media giants. As a result, paid media campaigns are now seen as a necessity by many open-web publishers to extend reach and hit their revenue goals. Keys for success include acquiring the ability to precisely measure revenue by publisher-relevant metrics like traffic source, topic, article, and creator. Both the business and editorial sides of publishers benefit from knowing how its revenue is generated. Knowledge is power and provides audience acquisition teams with the confidence that $1 spent off-site translates to $1.3 or more on the bottom line. Moreover, adaptive AI, like AdRizer’s Cortex, can arm publishers with valuable insights on what new and existing content will perform or has untapped potential.  

Publishers Lean into Subscriber Funnel

Subscription strategies are no longer just for the New York Times and Washington Posts of the world. Smaller, more focused publishers are promoting reader lifecycles that increase page visits, newsletter signup, and premium content on the road to paid subscriptions. Savvy publishers are using every tool in their arsenal to pack relevant audiences into the large end of a defined marketing funnel. Paid media is increasingly playing an essential role in scaling publisher audience strategies and is supported by AdRizer internal data that shows paid, targeted traffic performing similarly to publishers’ organic traffic.

Publishers Circumspect about Apple’s News+

The consensus seems to be that Apple News+ is yet another attempt by large tech platforms to siphon visitors from digital publishers. Apple boasts that it’s secured over 300 titles already and is ready to roll out the service to consumers for $9.99 a month. A 50/50 split of revenue reportedly has scared away top news publications like The New York Times and The Washington Post. At best, publishers are taking a wait-and-see approach on whether the news service can deliver significant revenue despite no direct audience relationship and no access to data.

The Need for Pubtech

Publishers are coming to grips with the notion that new revenue strategies often require new tech. In recent years header bidding has reset the table for publishers. Unfortunately, with so many players within the space, publishers’ header bidders are often tangled with redundant bids and headaches for partners. Summit conversations suggest publishers simplify by consolidating around a handful of reliable partners to achieve optimal success. Precise revenue by source attribution was also often mentioned as a necessity for publishers to detangle their revenue streams. 

Ken Bond
During his time as CEO, AdRizer has achieved rapid growth and was named by Inc. magazine as the nation’s fastest-growing software company.

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