Digital Publishing
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“The winners will be those heavily armed with first-party user data”: Highlights from IAB’s latest study

“Total media consumption is at an all-time high (now an average of 48% of our day),” according to IAB’s latest report, Brand Disruption 2020. It has risen by more than 21 minutes YoY and video comprises 80% of all Internet traffic. Video on smartphones and tablets increased by an average total of five minutes/day.  

Audio streaming on smartphones is also rising, having grown 16% YoY. It was found that 50% of US adults stream audio on their smartphones.

Additionally, the report predicts that digital data output will triple from 2019-2025, powering demand for and availability of personalized services, products, content, and marketing. All this points towards ever-growing opportunities for publishers to generate revenue via subscriptions, eCommerce and advertising.

eCommerce is growing at 5x the rate of total retail

For example, the shift to podcast streaming enables more optimization via dynamic ad insertion, the report states. 

iHeartRadio—which was initially an aggregator—has transformed into a leading podcast publisher after acquiring Stuff Media. It is leveraging first-party data to optimize campaigns for leading audio advertisers. 

Video has evolved into offering shoppable ads as eCommerce grows 5x the rate of total retail. eCommerce’s share has tripled in the last decade (from 5% to 14%).

Source: IAB’s Brand Disruption 2020

82% of US adults shop online, accounting for nearly $600B in 2019 (up 13% YoY). The report predicts that mobile will account for half of all online sales for the first time in 2020. 

50% of online shoppers consider buying an item after seeing its image

Shoppable ads are getting popular with several major tech players using them now. Publishers relying on eCommerce as a revenue stream can use them to connect their content with purchase opportunities in real-time. Tech companies including Instagram, Pinterest and Google among others, have come out with their versions of shoppable content formats

Pinterest launched mobile shoppable updates in 2019, including their new “Shop The Look” mobile ads which:

  • Allow brands to customize their profiles with videos or images 
  • Have dedicated shop tabs that enable “Pinners” to shop directly within brand profiles 
  • Includes a new messaging feature for brands to provide quick support and feedback to customers
Source: IAB’s Brand Disruption 2020

Google has also brought shoppable ads to image results after finding that 50% of online shoppers consider buying an item after seeing its image. The shoppable images allow retailers to showcase brands (and when users hover over a shoppable ad the price pops up).

Source: IAB’s Brand Disruption 2020

Meanwhile, TikTok (with 27M monthly US users, 60% of who are in the 16-24 age group) is beta testing shoppable short-form videos. They will allow viewers to click on the in-app video to be taken to the creator’s store without leaving TikTok. Similarly, Instagram’s Checkout feature allows users to make purchases within the app. 

“The largest growth seen since 2016”

These updates are a response to the continued growth of referral traffic from social media to eCommerce sites. Its share grew 20% from 7.6% to 9.1% between Q3 2018 to Q1 2019—”the largest growth seen since 2016,” according to the report.

Source: IAB’s Brand Disruption 2020

Traditional, big media companies are no longer the gatekeepers of media. Shoppable advertising on TV, social, and within ads appearing virtually anywhere. Why? Consumption of video is skyrocketing both as “story-based,” and “me-based,” with, content, commerce, and data are converging. This has sparked e-tailers to create content, and data companies to merge with publishers.

Brand Disruption 2020

More than half of first-party data has yet to be tapped

The one tactic that has proven to work in both building loyalty and increasing sales is personalization. 

The report offers the following tips that publishers can use to build and/or enhance personalized content and eCommerce experience for readers. 

  • Implement more dynamic personalized experiences on desktop and mobile websites and apps
  • Expand beyond email personalization to website and mobile channels; test social media and paid search
  • Develop loyalty programs to reward and recognize customers
  • Implement dynamic merchandizing and systematic retargeting based on website behavior
  • Move toward greater customer data centralization and more detailed customer segmentation
  • Start using customer identifiers to track customer experiences across touchpoints
  • Implement basic attribution and test-and-learn approaches
  • Develop advanced customer insights using integrated first and third-party data
  • Start automating personalized offers and recommendations

Artificial intelligence and machine learning can be used for advanced real-time targeting, and personalized messaging, based on online behavior and content consumption.

Mobile data generation is projected to more than double by 2022. And by 2025, digital data generated globally will increase more than 3x. Publishers stand to gain from this as they own valuable first-party data. In fact, according to the report, more than half of first-party data has yet to be tapped.

The authors conclude, “In the not-too-distant future, a few very savvy, highly successful, multi-disciplined companies will be the new media gatekeepers. The winners will be those heavily armed with first-party user data—and have ways to continue to build and maintain that data—and that do/will sell ads and that will/do create content.”

The full report is available from IAB:
Brand Disruption 2020

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