Where did OTT go? 4 takeaways from Digiday Publishing Summit

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Digiday Publishing Summit is always hectic. While first-timers may be fooled by the Key Biscayne location and expect warm weather with beach-side cocktails, Digiday vets know they will spend their days juggling pre-set meetings and must-attend thought-provoking sessions in the Ritz’s well air-conditioned halls.

However, my favorite moments of this important conference are the ‘in-between’ conversations that start-up spontaneously before and after sessions, or while waiting on line at the hotel’s bar.

In these ‘off the record’ moments our industry voices its day-to-day concerns and expresses the challenges we face while trying to adapt to the ever-changing market.    

Back in New York and a week later, here are my thoughts on this year’s event.

  1. Video Continues to be Publishers’ #1 Challenge

With nearly 60% of advertisers’ digital budgets allocated to video, it’s obvious that publishers need to continue the pivot to video and enrich their video inventory. However, due to the high costs of production, many publishers still struggle to produce and deliver high-quality video content at scale.

Cost aside, many publishers have also expressed that video storytelling requires a completely new skill set. For years, editorial and creative teams focused on building text-and-image based user experiences. Therefore, many in-house teams lack the digital video “know how” and are forced to come up with creative ways to get their hands on fresh, relevant, and engaging video from external sources.

The process of converting readers to viewers can be painful too, as digital video viewers are known to be an unforgiving audience. It’s 2018, and publishers know that UX matters more than anything. It is for this reason that many publishers invest in a reliable video-tech infrastructure that promises a seamless and sleek video user experience.

  1. The Good-Old O&Os are Still the Biggest Money Makers

The discussions at industry events such as Digiday revolve around the newest and noisiest revenue channels – OTT, Social, Subscription Models and more. However, as buzzwords clutter the keynotes and ‘hot topics’ get thrown around the main hall, the back-stage whispers and coffee-room discussions suggest that the bread & butter is elsewhere.

Buzzwords aside, most publishers I spoke with reported that most of their revenue is still generated by monetizing their O&O assets, and they don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

Indeed, in a session about publishers’ top challenges (using good, old-fashioned post-it notes), these are the themes that came up most:

  1. But How Do You Do Better?

As Q4 begins, I challenge my peers to focus on applying innovative thinking where it matters most, engaging the users you already have and attracting higher CPMs with your current inventory.

  1. Where Did OTT Go?

Taking a closer look at the yellow sticky notes, I found that some of last year’s most-discussed topics were nowhere to be found:

 

  • Ads.txt – This ex-buzzword was one of last year’s hottest topics, yet it was not mentioned once in the sticky notes, nor in the event’s agenda. Ads.txt has proven itself as an important milestone on the road to better transparency in the supply chain, but double digit ad fraud rates persist. My guess – it won’t be long before publishers are called to integrate the next generation of ad transparency tools.

 

  • GDPR – Publishers in the post-May 25th era seem to be talking less and less about consent management, although we all know that the privacy revolution has just begun. User protection will continue to rock the boat and change advertising as we know it, and players from both sides should prepare for what 2019 will bring.

 

  • Ad Blockers –  Do you remember the announcement of the Coalition for Better Ads, formed in order to address the growing use of Ad Blockers? It’s only been 2 years, and we have already moved on. An optimist may say that the issue was addressed and put to bed, but others are concerned that the industry is too nonchalant, and that Ad Blockers will continue to create problems for advertisers and publishers.

 

  • Blockchain – Wouldn’t you expect publishers to bring up the challenges they face when adopting Blockchain technology? It seems that Blockchain’s promise has yet to reach its potential due to the technology’s premature delivery. The solutions are out there, but publishers aren’t ready to make the leap of faith.

What were your thoughts on this year’s Digiday Publishing Summit? I’m curious to hear!

Feel free to share your thoughts and insights with me: Nadav@AnyClip.com