Digiday held their first Publisher European Summit of 2019 in Milan to discuss current and upcoming trends in digital advertising landscape for publishers. Over a two day period over 150 global publishers and ad tech vendors came together to discuss various topics such as revenue diversification, subscription modelling, platform dependencies, international expansion and what was tipped to be the hot topic of 2019 the growth of programmatic audio.

Below are my key takeaways from the event

Diversifying revenue takes balance
Publishers are fast exploring alternative avenues to drive sustainable revenue in an effort to reduce the over-reliance one revenue source. With the Facebook and Google Duopoly continuing to dominate publisher monetization, a diverse portfolio of revenue streams for publishers is key to ensuring all potential avenues are explored to drive maximum profitability.

Increasing ad formats to earn more revenue is simply not the answer for publishers. Adopting a holistic and strategic user-first approach will push publishers to strive to produce great user experiences. Publishers need to work with like-minded ad tech vendors to support their user-first approach.

The realities of subscriptions are tough
The subscription-based model continues to be a battleground for publishers mainly due to the accessibility of free content. Publishers have found that moving to a subscription-based model can certainly have its challenges; with access to free information online, convincing users to sign up and pay for content can be difficult.

Historically, publishers have offered free content for years, so changing readers’ mindset to see the value in paying for a content subscription when they can access it via multiple free channels is a struggle. However, there is still a niche of readers who are happy to subscribe when there is a clear benefit to the subscription.

Facing the realities of platform dependency
The days of publishers heavily relying on platforms for a considerable amount of their ad revenue are rapidly decreasing. Publishers have become savvier and are investing more in their own programmatic set up. With this newfound control, publishers have become selective with the platforms they choose to work with and lean towards partners that have a truly differentiated demand or technology that compliments their overall offering.

Audio opportunities are nascent but growing
Programmatic audio was tipped at the backend of 2018 to be one of the main trends in 2019. Although still not a prominent force within the programmatic space in comparison to display and video, programmatic audio is steadily growing and heading in the right direction. There is still great enthusiasm about programmatic audio due to its unique capability to engage with consumers at scale. Advertisers also see a great opportunity to shift radio budgets to digital audio where tracking and ability to measure performance is much more prominent.

The content from this year’s Digiday Publishing Summit Europe exemplified how publishers have taken control of their inventory and have become smarter on how to grow their audience while taking a user-first approach.

By: Nathaniel Andes | Director Strategic Partnerships Europe at 33Across