2019 was an exciting and eventful year for the industry – privacy regulations, CTV and contextual targeting were some of the big headlines. Will 2020 see the video advertising take an even bigger share of the market? How will American consumers react to the CCPA? And is "cookiegeddon" avoidable or inevitable?
We asked a cross-section of industry leaders to make some predictions about the future of video content, advertising and ad operations in general. Here are their thought-provoking answers that every publisher should take to heart.
The Importance of Universal ID
Inventory fragmentation is growing and we see the issue evolving into a mounting challenge in 2020.
With new ad-supported streaming services popping up on what feels like a monthly basis, media buyers are often confused as to where they can purchase inventory while also leveraging data for audience targeting, managing frequency, and measuring the performance of their campaigns holistically across all screens.
Any of these concerns can be curtailed if the industry shifted to a universal identifier so buyers and investment arms could better manage all of these issues.
The Blurring Lines of Media
The lines between traditional and online media are continuing to blur. In the years to come we’ll see those lines disappear entirely, with major players in the entertainment and publishing business venturing into online media. This will make the destination of the content effectively obsolete.
This won't just be the blurring between television and laptop. We will see live sports on mobile, YouTube celebrities on the big screen and trusted media outlets reporting breaking news on OTTs.
The More Things Change...
The online publishing market will have the same characteristics it has had since I started 25 years ago. It will be like sailing on the seas with waves cresting and falling in various size. The magical question isn’t what specifically will be those changes but what will we do when we encounter them. These waves come quickly and the market constantly moves. Maybe we're looking at a cookie-less world or JSON or CCPA.
Maybe we'll see a new social medium or the demise of an existing one. The real story will lie in how we deal with these changes, not what the specific changes will be.
Video Will Continue to Boom
We see video is becoming even more important to our business in 2020, because it is a favoured medium for certain content types: reviews and how-to tutorials. The reader/viewer really decides how he or she wants to consume our content.
Video with audio is not always going to be convenient, and words and pictures certainly still have their place in publishing. Most content types are enhanced with video, rather than being entirely supplanted by it. If the visitor wants video, we should include it.
Cost remains a major factor for publishers, with high-quality video content more editorial labour intensive than traditional articles. Hosting video is also expensive, and delivering it can add latency to content pages, and therefore affect search visibility. It is certainly more monetizable, but less so on certain growing platforms (often run by Google), such as YouTube and AMP.
Highly Targeting Video Content
I predict that buyers and marketers will start targeting and buying specific video content that they want their brands to be associated with.
Think of an era where you bid on the right user, at the right domain, and at the right moment. Imagine placing an iPhone ad as a midroll, at the precise moment when the user is watching a video on an iPhone or, better yet, a Samsung.
What Publishers Will Need to Find Success with Video
Engagement with video content will become the dominant way users consume publisher content in 2020, and by 2025, fueled by 5G, I predict video content consumption will surpass 90% of a user's time spent with publisher content.
In order to meet the daily demand for new video content publishers will need to adopt a hybrid production model that includes in-house & outsourced production capability, as well as licensing syndicated content. This means publishers will need embrace syndication partnerships as well as leveraging low-cost, high-quality video production partnerships with several platforms (e.g. VidMob and QuickFrame), which will, in turn, require a change in thinking by editorial and ad ops teams that are generally resistant to "not produced here" video content.
Publishers will need to license video content recommendation technology similar to what users experience at the "walled gardens.”
Publishers will need to become experts at assembling scaleable programmatic demand in order to effectively monetize all of the great video content on their sites. These changes will require a radically evolved publisher ad ops function with more focus on video demand management across O&O and syndicated content.
Avoiding "Video Blindness"
Video will continue to establish itself as the best way to reach audiences, cross-channel video will take a bigger role in planning advertising strategy, and advertisers will allocate more budgets towards video.
With video being so common, "Video Blindness" will become a huge risk, which means that in order to keep your users engaged, publishers, advertisers and video product companies will need to enhance video experience and give users great user experience with relevant, user-centric videos.
Demand for OTT and CTV
I believe that more and more video will be consumed via OTT platforms and demand for CTV and OTT will be bigger than ever in the next couple of years.
This means Google is going to try and crack down on CTV landscape as they did for standard desktop/mobile (ads.txt) which will be an issue for many publishers and advertisers.
Video and Ad Operations in 2020
The new year brings with it a whole new decade and different ways to monetize your website. From the increasing importance of contextual to revenue stream diversification, new solutions for the increasingly complicated landscape are making themselves known in 2020. Every publisher should take the opportunity to double down on what works.