5 Trends Publishers Should Expect to Focus On in 2022

It’s that time again when we all collectively look back on recent changes across the global media landscape and discuss what digital developments will shape the year ahead. However, this isn’t the typical “next year’s trends” piece. Based on talks with our supply partners, we’re providing our take on the topics dominating the 2022 conversation, and what we’re doing at Outbrain to help publishers play to their strengths. 

1. Continued investment in revenue diversification

Publishers have historically used a range of monetization methods in the print world: subscriptions, charging a cover price, advertorials, product sampling/direct mail outs, user offers, and more. 

They’ve similarly turned to advertising models in order to monetize their digital offerings. 

We expect to see publishers continuing to invest in new online revenue streams that maximize the value of their unique brand and audience, while building direct revenues and opportunities to acquire 1st party data.

Despite this emerging mindset, a recent Digiday study shows that advertising continues to drive the majority of revenues that fund journalism. Will 2022 be the tipping point with revenue diversification efforts driving increasingly significant revenues? 

At Outbrain, we’ve invested in tools such as Audience Campaigns and Conversion Card to help our partners feature their own commercial content within Outbrain widgets. We’re excited to go further here in 2022!

2. Evolution in online identity 

It’s no secret that the end of the 3rd party cookie is in sight. We expect topics on identity, privacy and compliance to feature heavily on publisher to-do lists in a few key ways:

  • Exploring alternate identifiers: The industry looks to innovate to find the right balance between improved anonymity for users and better personalization for advertisers to prove ROAS. 
  • Adapting to shifting industry regulation: As has been seen this year in Europe, privacy regulation is growing more complex and varied. Publishers serving global audiences will need to ensure they are up to date and put in place the right mechanisms in order to comply with digital privacy regulations across regions.
  • Web browser changes: This year saw several major announcements; namely, from Google Chrome (3rd party cookies) and Apple (iOS/IDFA changes). We expect 2022 to continue to bring new protocols enforced on the publishing industry by those in control of audience internet access points, such as web browsers and operating systems.

3. Video goes from strength to strength 

Video content has emerged as one of the most effective ways for advertisers to bring their message to life and increase brand engagement. Its popularity also shows no signs of waning for audiences looking to discover and engage with content online. Video is set to continue its strong growth trajectory in 2022, with publishers investing in both video creation and ways to harness video as a powerful storytelling and monetization tool.

Outbrain recently announced plans to strengthen its video offering by entering a definitive agreement to acquire Video Intelligence (vi). This will enable our publishers to enhance user engagement and monetization through relevant mid and top-of-article video solutions in 2022. 

4. Growing impact of Web Vitals

As Google ramps up their Web Vitals program, 2021 saw these metrics factored into SEO ranking decisions. In parallel, we’ve also seen Google relax the rules on the inclusion of only AMP pages within their Top Stories carousel. Given the objectives of improved page performance are behind AMP and Web Vitals, we anticipate to see decreases in AMP PV in favor of articles with good Web Vitals. As a result, publishers will be doubling down on measuring and improving Web Vitals as their importance grows. 

At Outbrain, we’ve already put in place many measures to aid our partners in monitoring, mitigating and minimizing impact on Web Vitals. Much more is planned in the coming months, so be sure to watch this space for the details of some exciting new features!

Don’t forget to also check out some useful blog posts we’ve recently put out on Web Vitals.

5. Publishers embracing machine learning and AI

One of the benefits of digital has always been the ability to build dynamic, personalized and engaging content experiences. With the Covid pandemic fuelling digital transformation in all aspects of our lives, we expect to see increasing adoption of AI and machine learning technologies that have the potential to power increasingly sophisticated content and advertising experiences. In fact, a recent Harvard Business Review article cited research that shows 86% of companies interviewed felt that AI technology is “becoming mainstream.” Companies are increasingly embracing AI technology across all aspects such as supply chain management, productivity and service provision. AI and machine learning offers huge potential in the delivery, discovery, engagement and monetization of digital content.

At Outbrain, we too are embracing machine learning and AI with our new improved infrastructure Smartlogic, which is automating smarter decisions about the order, ratio and UI of the recommendations we present to audiences. We are rolling out this new technology across our network, with partners such as One India & Funke seeing impressive lifts in both audience engagement rates and revenues.

Well that’s it from us, we hope you found our whistle stop tour of some of the items we expect to appear on publisher to-do lists helpful as we head into the new year. As always, onwards and upwards!

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