Beyond Facebook: Where the New Advertising Opportunities Are

Advertisers wondering where to advertise amidst Facebook boycotts have a ready-made solution in the power and persuasion of Rich Media.

Brands in no way want to be associated with hate and bigotry because it doesn’t align with their core values. That’s what makes advertisers look for ad environments that are completely brand safe and suitable. This is especially relevant because our recent survey of ad professionals, including employees from GroupM and Google, indicates 2020 will be defined by more corporate social responsibility and brand focus.

Many brands including Verizon, Coca-Cola, and Adidas are pressing pause on their social media campaigns as they evaluate whether Facebook’s policies of not censoring hate speech align with their brand values. What alternatives do brands have once they step away from social advertising? Luckily for advertisers, there are digital display alternatives to Facebook that promise better brand safety and better performance.

Verified and Triple-Checked Safe Environments

Due to the content on social media platforms being user-generated, it can be hard to moderate and guarantee brand safety. Brand messages could have easily been just a scroll away from a vulgar or negative post. According to a collaborative study from Magna, ads appearing near negative content result in a “2.8 times reduction in consumers’ intent to associate with these brands.” Even more alarming is the same research reports two-thirds of consumers believe brands intentionally place their ads next to content, which could mean negative effects if that content is unsafe.

Digital display advertising addresses this by making selectivity key within publisher networks. There are dedicated supply teams who vet every single online publication for offensive or unsafe content. Questionable content gets blocklisted by publishing managers to ensure brands never have their message appear next to something negative.

The sites within these premium networks have stature and are committed to high-quality content and brand-safe environments. This is because content on sites within the network is generated from trusted journalists and vetted bloggers who have stated and verifiable publication standards. Local journalism accounts for 35% of the JustPremium network and local journalists are perceived as more caring (36%), trustworthy (29%) and neutral or unbiased (23%) by consumers than larger news outlets, according to a study by The Knight Foundation.

Ultimately, the real Rich Media digital display advantage comes from the power and control it gives to advertisers. They can handpick where they want to advertise. So far, Facebook has refused to offer the same guarantees to advertisers, maintaining that they do not plan on changing their policies. This may put brands in a precarious position if they find that Facebook and other social media platforms are not receptive enough to their brand safety standards.

Unparalleled Performance

High impact creatives in brand-safe environments make Rich Media ads incredibly effective. Often brand success and sales boosts are directly attributable to a strong Rich Media campaign that provides a high return on investment for the advertiser.

The endless scroll of Facebook and other platforms makes it easy for users to scroll past ads in a matter of milliseconds. In fact, the average In-View Time of a mobile ad on Facebook is 1.7 seconds. Now, when analyzing next to Rich Media’s average In-View Time of 69 seconds, it’s clear which is more effective for brand imprint. But that’s not all. Rich Media also outstrips Facebook ads in CTR, boasting an average 1.1% compared to a meager 0.9% from Facebook.

Despite this, Facebook is still seen as a resource to brands for its net reach as well as its ability to use profile data for targeting. However, through a programmatic ad buying structure, Rich Media offers as much control and coverage as Facebook. For instance, JustPremium’s Rich Media Marketplace hosts over 15 billion impressions per month across the globe, including sovereignties Facebook can’t access, such as China. Rich Media campaigns can also support niche targeting options within their programmatic platform. Cutting-edge contextual targeting abilities can be accessed through partnerships such as with Peer39 that finds the right audience with laser focus and raises CTR by an average of 16%.

Rich Media is also more effective than other online ad formats, as it helps brands stand out from ad noise and clutter in crowded environments. A study by Lumen Research found that user’s dwell on Rich Media formats 28 times longer than standard display advertisements. Almost 40% of users are still viewing JustPremium Rich Media ads after 5 seconds, compared to less than 1% for standard desktop display.

Rich Media is a better option for advertisers looking to find a new home for their brand message as it provides verifiable brand safety guarantees. Until Facebook can take the responsibility advertisers are asking for, brands must carefully weigh whether the drawbacks of advertising there are worth the potential gains. As of the beginning of July 2020, Facebook has reached no such agreement with advertisers and remains obstinate about changing its policies. This position combined with a new focus on brand social responsibility may have brands rethinking their long-term plans when it comes to how they market themselves – and where they choose to do it.

Q&A with Daniel Young, Yield and Programmatic Director for DMS

The yield and programmatic expert for Digital Media Services of Choueiri Group weighs in on the problems and opportunities for publishers today.

The landscape of the publishing industry has not been immune to the effects of the Coronavirus on the economy. Depending on the vertical, publishers have seen both spikes and valleys in their readership. Beyond that, they have had to contend with fluctuating revenues and stretched cash flow over the past few months.

As a part of JustPremium’s white paper, “Digital Publishing Roadmap to Navigating the Challenges of 2020”, JustPremium interviewed various global publishers about how they are approaching these turbulent times. Each of the publishers we spoke with had diverse views and plans for how they were going to help lead their publications through the storm.

This interview is with Digital Media Services’ Yield and Programmatic Director, Daniel Young. Daniel spoke to us from Dubai, where he leads the yield and programmatic divisions of DMS, which is the digital branch of Choueiri Group. He helps optimize the inventory of over 40 sites in order to create better monetization opportunities.

What has surprised you most about the effects of the Coronavirus on the digital publishing industry?

Daniel Young: “There has not only been a reduction in the overall demand that comes from huge drops in advertising spend across particular industries, but also the considerably lower CPMs that remain. I think that was to be expected with the oversupply situation we find ourselves in, but what I didn’t expect was many people just throwing out all their quality buying strategies and mentalities that they spent so long to establish.”

What do you think is one of the larger risks on the horizon?

D.Y.: “In a nutshell, cashflow. There’s always going to be the risk of clients, particularly smaller ones, not being a position to pay their agencies or perhaps delaying or extending their payment terms when there is a severe effect on cashflow. If however the agencies aren’t getting paid then it may create some sort of chain reaction with delays in paying suppliers, employees, and other responsibilities. I already know of some agencies that have put the brakes on payments and we all understand that many people are on reduced salaries or worse. It could be a while before purchasing power returns to the masses.”

What are some of the best ways publishers can survive an economic downturn?

D.Y.: “If they haven’t already, I think they will need to pivot into ways that are more efficient and effective. They might take stock of where they’re actually seeing the benefits and focus more on those. Here is where a ‘nice to have’ offering needs to make way for an increased focus on the USPs a little more, i.e. what they’re really good at and what will generate revenues while also being sustainable. For us, this could actually be very beneficial because we not only own and operate some of our sites but are fully invested in delivering both turnkey and specialist monetisation solutions to those we exclusively represent. This means that they can focus their efforts on creating the best content and experiences for their users knowing that we are operating in their best interests from a revenue generation standpoint.”  

Do you sense that relationships will change between publishers and partners?

D.Y.: “I think some of those perceived walls that people might have up, you know agencies vs clients or clients vs publisher, might change for the better. It seems to be a little more of an attitude of where we are all struggling so how can I get what I want in a way that you can get what you want too? Looking towards more mutually beneficial outcomes. I think there’s a little more mutual understanding, which is a good thing. It used to be where there was more of a one-way or even antagonistic relationship and in some cases, people would be willing to burn bridges too easily. I’m happy to see that all players seem to be more accepting and willing to compromise.”

Based on what you’ve said, would you say survival for publishers now depends on how they build their relationships and pivot their position?

D.Y.: “I think from our standpoint it might help us focus even more on partners. It could be how we work with outside technology providers and adjusting our offering to suit, but it could relate to the agencies and clients where we concentrate efforts on those that help shift the needle. There may be very little value in the spending hours on briefs and proposals that are going to consume huge volumes of inventory for a very little upshot. You also need to have a balanced relationship with two-way communication and that isn’t going to always be strained because they’re unfairly holding you accountable to their unrealistic measures of success. Why bother with that? Build stronger relationships with partners that are more focused on healthy strategies to the short, mid, and longer-term. Perhaps those that may be more open to experimenting with new products or solutions, enabling you to use and build tools collectively that can make the most of the situation but also strengthen the relationship and create opportunities.”

In our next interview, we will sit down with a different type of publisher. Remo Chipatiso works for WeerOnline based in the Netherlands and provides unique insights on how a very localised and specialised publisher faces different struggles and has separate opportunities in the face of the Corona crisis.

Q&A with Erik Hulsbosch, CTO of JustPremium

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.