It’s safe to say that the past year hasn’t gone according to plan, which has made the already challenging role of being a publisher even more difficult. However, it’s still valuable to scan the horizon of the media landscape for emerging trends.
We took the uncertainty of the current times into account when we created our 2021 Digital Advertising Trends white paper, which we released at the beginning of this year.
Now that 2021 is halfway through, we’re circling back to see how our predictions are playing out. We’ll explore 3 of the trends we predicted accurately. We’ll also cover 1 landmark event that caught many in the media industry, including us, a little by surprise.
4 key takeaways from our 2021 Digital Advertising Trends report- 6 months later
Subscription models are still going strong, but advertising is recovering faster than expected
At the beginning of the year, we predicted that growing numbers of publishers would shift to combined advertising-subscription revenue models (we even wrote an entire report on this topic with Adweek). Although we often think of news subscribers as consumers, a new report from the International News Media Association has identified yet another opportunity within this revenue model—business-to-business (B2B) subscriptions.
“The Wall Street Journal is among the publishers to have noticed an increased willingness from companies to pay for subscriptions, while a strategy change saw the Financial Times grow its [B2B] subscriber base from 250,000 customers to more than 625,000,” according to an article by the PressGazette.
This trend underscores the viability of subscription models to bolster publishers’ revenue, and signals an opportunity to sell subscription packages in bulk to other companies. This means publishers will need to develop strong account-based marketing strategies and establish customer success teams to serve B2B subscription holders, which is what The Financial Times has done to encourage B2B subscriber retention.
Regardless of the popularity of subscription models, advertising continues to play a pivotal role in publishers’ success. GroupM has predicted a 24% increase in media advertising revenue in the U.K. and 22% in the U.S. for 2021, up from previous forecasts for both countries.
“We didn’t fully appreciate just how much the economy and advertising market might heat up, especially for digital media, until we saw results for the quarter from the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Snap, Pinterest, and others,” GroupM told What’s New In Publishing.
Corporations and non-profit organizations are preparing for hybrid events
In our 2021 Digital Advertising Trends white paper, we suggested that the hybrid live-virtual event model was positioned to become the norm for the long term as the world begins to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic among rising vaccination numbers. It looks like investors agree. In mid-June, TechCrunch reported that the hybrid event platform Brella received $10 million in funding for its business networking app.
“Unlike many of our competitors, Brella is squarely focused on capturing the essence of live business events and translating them into an intuitive digital format,” Markus Kauppinen, the company’s CEO and founder, told TechCrunch.
Hybrid events are attractive to attendees for several reasons. In the age of Covid-19, they are a safe option when it comes to public health. However, hybrid events also offer other benefits including the option to avoid the cost and time associated with traveling that may otherwise prevent someone from attending an event.
In addition to the business community, non-profit organizations of all sizes have also caught onto the trend of hybrid events. According to Forbes, 85% of organizations report that they will offer the option to participate virtually in events, indefinitely.
Streaming media shows no signs of slowing down
For the second year in a row, we predicted that the use of streaming media platforms would continue to increase in popularity. A recent release from Globe Newswire confirmed that this market will keep growing by 12% per year until 2027, when it is expected to be valued at $843 billion.
Similar to the example of hybrid events, Covid-19 has fueled the streaming media craze, while consumers in lockdown turned to media giants like Netflix, Spotify, and Disney+ for entertainment over the better part of both 2020 and 2021.
“One of the [other] factors driving regional growth is the high integration of cloud-based streaming services. And apart from that, the availability of video-on-demand (VoD) has been a godsend in terms of ensuring entertainment and engagement during this pandemic,” according to a release by Global Newswire.
In both the cases of hybrid events and streaming media platforms, publishers would be wise to consider how they can offer advertisers opportunities to reach consumers through these channels. This could look like launching your own event or podcast; however if you don’t have the bandwidth for those types of initiatives, your approach could involve partnering with other like minded media organizations that have similar advertiser and audience bases.
What we missed: Google acquiesces in antitrust case
While we have previously written about antitrust investigations into Google, we didn’t cover what might happen with this issue in our 2021 Digital Advertising Trends white paper.
Google made headlines yet again in mid-June when the tech giant agreed to make global changes to its business practices, including in areas such as advertising sales and tracking, as part of a case brought against the company by regulators in the U.K. and France.
“The French antitrust settlement targeted Google’s dominance over the digital ad market,” according to this article by BNN Bloomberg. “Some advertising experts think this could help by letting companies that run rival ad-publishing services, such as PubMatic Inc. and Magnite Inc., win more auctions.”
At the same time across the pond, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a package of five bipartisan antitrust bills targeting Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook. What does this mean for publishers? A more competitive digital advertising industry may be on the horizon.
Catch up on more media industry trends
Our 2021 Digital Advertising Trends white paper goes beyond subscription models, hybrid events, and streaming media. Download the white paper to find out our take on topics like mobile gaming, social change movements, data privacy laws, ad targeting, 5G, and more.