Advertising Guest Columns
4 mins read

How publishers can weather the economic storm in H1

Video, audio, and gaming are all areas publishers need to explore and diversify into as economic storm clouds gather, says Lucy Zakrzewska, Director of Supply at Azerion. In doing so, it’s important that publishers optimize toward quality attention as, by doing so, these formats can drive up to 20 times higher attention than standard formats.

The fourth quarter of 2022 failed to live up to expectations for publishers and forced them to look at areas where they could cut costs as the recession began to bite. With these economic pressures likely to continue for the foreseeable, publishers have to take an even closer look at their tactics and consider ways they can weather the storm in 2023 and beyond.

Fortunately, despite many publishers currently struggling to find ways to fill revenue gaps, there are a number of steps that can be taken to ensure that revenues continue to flow.

Diversify through sight and sound

Perhaps the biggest step that a premium publisher can take is to look at ways that it can push spend into other products. There’s a huge opportunity for publishers to explore what video, audio, and gaming have to offer.

Digital video has grown massively over the past few years, particularly in the short-form style popularised by TikTok, then embraced (or copied) by the likes of Instagram, YouTube, and even now Amazon. As a result, digital video ad spend is continuing to grow at a fair rate, and is chipping away at the spend going into traditional online display and TV ads.

Publishers that are reaping the rewards with video are those who are producing their own video content, adapting their video players, and evolving their offering to meet the demands of both consumers and advertisers.

A very similar theme has developed within audio, which has also exploded in popularity over the past few years, namely within the podcast space.

Podcasts received their first wave of success back in 2014 when the popular investigative journalism podcast Serial pushed the medium into the mainstream. But its real success came more recently, as the pandemic led to many consumers embracing the audio format. This exciting channel is definitely another area publishers should be exploring. It offers not only additional revenue opportunities, but a way for advertisers to reach fully engaged audiences.

Podcasts are able to capture a greater proportion of a consumer’s attention than other audio channels, such as radio or music streaming services. And, because the consumer has chosen to listen to that content specifically, they are more attentive to what is being said. This makes podcasts the perfect place for both publishers and advertisers to be heard.

And in gaming too

One other interesting opportunity that has arisen over the past few years is within the gaming arena. Gaming has long been big business but has only recently become a legitimate advertising avenue.

Publishers can leverage growing consumer interest in the space, exploring both the content and in-game advertising. It’s estimated that more than three and a quarter billion people will enjoy games on either consoles, computers, or mobile devices this year.

Publishers can provide advertisers with scale, and encourage repeat visitors, by exploring the possibility of advertiser-sponsored games within their content mix. “Instant gaming” companies can provide the platform to make this a reality, and help to deliver immersive gaming experiences to audiences within publisher properties.

An example of a popular publisher-owned web-based game – though one that was acquired by, rather than produced for, the publisher – is Wordle. The game became a hit when it was developed and published by Josh Wardle back in 2021, before being picked up by The New York Times at the beginning of 2022. The purchase has enabled the media giant to drive both increased engagement and dwell time, proving how valuable the gaming avenue can be to publishers.


When exploring any new channels, or seeking to improve existing ones, it’s important that publishers optimize toward quality attention. Formats designed with quality attention in mind have been found to drive up to 20 times higher attention than standard formats.

Publishers should ensure that their properties are ripe for engaging creatives that can be placed within a quality environment. This will drive better value for the advertisers they work with, and produce a better user experience for the visitors to their site.

Truly successful advertising can only be effective if it manages to capture the attention of the consumer. Combining this focus on attention with an exploration of areas such as digital video, podcasts, and gaming are key to publishers protecting their margins in this year and beyond.

These strategies will not only go a long way toward improving ROI at a time when it’s crucial to do so, but ensure that publishers are in good stead when the economy eventually stabilizes and the storm has passed.

Lucy Zakrzewska
Senior Director of Supply, Azerion

Azerion is a leading global media, technology, and entertainment company which delivers meaningful outcomes to brand challenges. It enables advertisers to connect with some of the world’s leading publishers and gaming platforms.

Content creators, publishers, and advertisers work with Azerion to reach millions of people via its market-leading technology, advertising and gaming solutions. Founded in 2015 by two Dutch entrepreneurs, Azerion has experienced rapid expansion thanks to organic growth and strategic acquisitions. The company employs more than 900 employees across the world and is headquartered in Amsterdam, with 21 further offices across Europe including London, Paris, and Dusseldorf.