[Recap] CES 2023: Navigating the Future of Media

The 2023 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) returned to Las Vegas with a number of leading voices in the tech space coming together to exchange ideas and works of innovation for the new year. Dedicated as the event is to consumer technology, CES is just as meaningful for those in the advertising and media space.

As our industry looks to navigate a variety of challenges, and opportunities, in the year ahead, we partnered with The Rebooting for ‘The Sustainable Journalism Imperative.” The event brought together stakeholders from all sides of the ecosystem to tackle an important issue: how brands can support independent news and other important initiatives while still delivering results. 

Founder of The Rebooting, Brian Morrissey, drove the conversation alongside Outbrain’s Co-CEO, David Kostman, and Krystal Olivieri, Global Chief Innovation Officer at GroupM & Choreograph.

A Renewed Focus on Context

As digital media takes a more user-first approach, there’s a great opportunity for publishers to prioritize direct relationships and leverage their relationships with their users. The inevitable demise of cookies has re-asserted the importance of contextual advertising more than ever before, swinging the pendulum in favor of publishers who are able to provide a privacy-safe environment for advertisers to buy in – built on top of consented first-party data. 

Publishers, compared to platforms, are at an advantage as they can understand the behavior of each individual on their website and leverage those contextual signals to better engage with their audiences and show real results for advertiser dollars. As David Kostman put it: “The data signals that people are losing because of privacy, regulatory changes, the Apple decisions and potentially cookieless, do allow publishers to leverage more first-party data. It allows contextual targeting to become much more important and relevant.

Short vs. Long-Term Performance

We all like to talk seriously about focusing on the long-term, but then the pressure of an economic downturn has us revert to short-term approaches. So, is there a way to avoid compromising on long-term strategies?

While it’s easy to turn the “knob” toward short-term revenue, publishers should approach monetization by attaining higher lifetime value (LTV) and real engagement from their audiences. With better data controls and the shift to privacy, publishers have the opportunity to redefine the user experience, while those in the ad tech industry can provide better campaign value to make the publisher ecosystem a substantial allocation of enterprise brand budget in the near future. David Kostman added: “There’s a real opportunity in the next 2-3 years for publishers to get back more of their fair share, and for those in the ad tech industry to provide much better measurements and the ability to evaluate campaigns, which will get higher brand dollars into brand-safe environments of publishers.”

The Path to Return on Investment

Independent journalism is facing an uphill battle to reach and scale its readership due to the power of social platforms. However, brands have become increasingly cautious when it comes to social, as an affiliation with risky and potentially offensive content could harm their reputation. As a result, brands are now looking for better returns and more control of the environment in which their ads appear, evidenced by ad spending on the duopoly now dropping below 50%. This shift creates a massive opportunity for open web advertising to offer brands scalable results across a variety of premium publishers. 

Enterprise brands can play a significant role in making it happen, as Krystal Olivieri explains: “Advertisers right now are struggling to balance performance and responsibility. A lot of conversations we’re having now are in areas like sustainability, publishers that represent DE&I, and others. This is showing up more and more inside of brands – the return on investment matters, but the path to how you’re getting that return on investment is more important than ever.” 

“The Sustainable Journalism Initiative” offered an honest perspective about the important role that brands can play in supporting quality journalism in 2023. If you’re interested in learning more about how your brand can support independent journalism, or want to know what initiatives Outbrain is up to, don’t hesitate to reach out!

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