[Digi-Publish NY] With Change Comes Solutions

The year is 2020. Marketer ad spend is controlled by a small number of platforms. GDPR has risen, and more shall follow in its steps. Cookies are disappearing faster than an Oreo left too long in the alternative milk, and comrades, there’s no spoon to scoop it out.

The optics in our space right now are not great, but at Digi-Publish New York this year, optics don’t hold water. That’s because publishers have been busy disrupting “business as usual” — innovating away from platforms, and back toward their audiences to find new avenues of success.

Here are the top four takeaways from the event to help you stay ahead of the curve.


In a market where overnight changes can significantly impact publisher traffic and CPMs, publishers have been working aggressively at diversifying revenue streams.

Just a few options to consider for publishers out there: Licensing, Digital Advertising, Lead Generation, Subscriptions, Branded Content, Podcasts, B2B products, and Events are all areas seeing rapid development, and even more rapid results.

While not all publishers are able to invest in every one of these options, or while some may not be relevant to specific publications, attention to these off-platform revenue opportunities will ultimately set publishers up for long term success.


Like Dolly Parton, email and newsletters are definitely having a moment, and coming back in a big way — why now? Simple: For Subscription-driven brands, and those interested in developing subscription-based revenue models, newsletter recipients are more highly engaged.

According to a 5-month study run by The Times of London, newsletter recipients are 50% less likely to churn, and one-third of the most engaged readers receive newsletters. These are not by any means insignificant numbers.

Email allows publishers the opportunity to connect directly with their audiences. It’s a conversation with core readers, which drives brand loyalty, and qualitative growth.

For this reason, publishers seeking a path back to higher CPMs through quality traffic and engagement should not write off (or, type off, rather) email, for the foreseeable future.

Get to Know Your Audiences.

Younger audiences increasingly (I see you, Gen Z) do not want assumptions made about their needs, but how else is a publisher to make business decisions at scale?

Publishers have been making a concerted effort to create business models that also align with audience wants and needs. When these two spheres do come together, growth can be explosive.

Engaging directly with your audience through live chats, video feeds, webinars, and in-person events is a surefire way to not only eliminate guesswork, but also to nurture higher brand loyalty from those highest value audiences.

Most publishers will find that consumers are more than willing to give feedback to improve their experience — so go ahead, ask them!

Pareto Principle (a.k.a The 80/20 Rule)

More Eyes = More Pageviews = More Revenue.

We’ve been complacent with a rudimentary formula for success, perpetuated by platforms, that have brought short-term value at the cost of long-term sustainability. All the while, ad spend has gotten smarter, and as attribution technologies and tracking become even more refined, ad dollars will become increasingly harder for publishers to capture.

Some publishers are breaking the traffic addiction, and getting back to the basics — prioritizing the small percentage of consumers that also represent the vast majority of their value proposition, and targeting engagement over clickthrough.

80% of business is driven by 20% of audiences after all, so catering to that core becomes fiscally paramount. Publishers that will thrive for years to come will be those leveraging data to better identify their core demographic, and that build authentic brands and content around niche communities of highly engaged readers.

What’s Next?

Yes, the privacy revolution has begun. Our space is changing, and the optics are borderline scary. If there’s any one theme to take home from Digi-Publish New York, however, it’s that publishers are no longer focused on the inevitable challenges to the traditional way of doing business — they’re anything but scared. Instead, they’re focusing on solutions.

There are plenty of options for publishers to not only adapt, but also grow well into the future, and I have great news: Outbrain has already invested in tomorrow to create effective tools for publishers to stay ahead, today — tools that hit on all of the takeaways mentioned above, at that.

See how we can support you, here.

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