The JustPremium Executive lends over a decade of industry experience to speak to publisher struggles during uncertain times.

Publishers should never have to face tough times alone. JustPremium’s latest white paper, “Digital Publishing Roadmap to Navigating the Challenges of 2020” featured voices from many different stakeholders in the digital publishing industry. We interviewed various publishers from all over the globe, but we also interviewed those in a position to help those publishers. 

JustPremium is in a position to help publishers work through the issues they are confronted with at this moment and come out stronger. The experts who work on the publishing side of our Ad-tech business are in a great position to offer advice on how to boost revenues and maintain steady cash flow despite the disruption caused by the Coronavirus. 

In this interview, we speak with JustPremium’s CTO, Erik HulsboschHulsbosch was one of the original group that founded JustPremium 8 years ago. Because of that, he has seen many large and small shifts within the digital publishing industry. Better yet, he has seen it all from a partner’s perspective, which gives him unique insight into how to approach problems from a holistic point of view. 

What are the biggest threats that publishers are facing right now?

Erik Hulsbosch: “The biggest threat would be if one of the big agencies goes bankrupt. I think within every crisis, major or minor, there is that chance. The latest one was GDPR and we saw small movement then. You will see some movement now, and some publishers that just merge to reduce costs. This is going to happen. I do not expect major movements here unless they were already planned. There are publishers that are basically for sale already, or major holding groups that are selling their publishing business. Maybe that is the setup a little bit, or maybe we see a little bit more of it. But I do not expect some major changes.

How do you think publishers will respond to this downturn to stay in a strong position?

E.H.: “Some publishers will see an increase of direct relations with buyers or with direct advertisers. Some might think that that model won’t work for them and that they are going to fire the whole sales team and just do programmatic advertising. They may change only a few deals but that would be itThey’ll lower the cost and make money in a different way. There is no single way that they will survive. It really depends on the publisher, on the area. Maybe they already have way too many costs and now it is a perfect time for them to reduce it and refocus. 

What do you see the role of ad tech partners like JustPremium being when it comes to guiding publishers through stormy weather?

E.H.: “I do not believe that every single publisher is able to go to the advertiser or agency and build a relationship with them. Why? Because there are hundreds of thousands of publishers and there are only a few people on the agency. It is always good to keep close contact with the people in between, with the aggregator, with the network with the SSPs, with the whole ecosystem. Why? Because there are more publishers connected, and by that have immediate power to work with the advertisers. Ad-tech players are well-suited to be these mediators that bring them easy and powerful results.”  

How should partnerships be leveraged for publishers to stay on course?

E.H.: “Work with your partners on solutions that can help you and your sales team or your whole business. Obviously, it is important to work with partners that generate a lot of revenue for you, but in the end, I think the most value for both partners: advertiser and user is when you can bring something unique.”

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future for digital publishers?

E.H.: “I have been in this industry for 12 years, so I’ve seen a lot. It seems like every year a new doomsday scenario is predicted for publishers. But every year goes by and publishers do just fine. There are tweaks here and there, but they continue to be a vital part of this ecosystem. In Q4 is where losses get turned into profits. The whole ecosystem is being monitored and insured by the power of the agencies. As long as the agencies continue to exist, there will not be a major shakeup. It is evolving, and it is not the same as 10 years ago. Do not get me wrong, the Coronavirus situation is different than the recession. But 10 years ago, they were saying the same thing about how publishers couldn’t maintain, but they did. I think through a combination of creativity and relying on partners, they will again.” 

Over the coming weeks, we will publish more extended interviews with publishers and other key players in the industry. Each of them brings their unique experience and insight into today’s issues and how they plan to face rocky roads ahead.