Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Let’s fight for the future of quality publishers – for advertisers, consumers and for democracy

By Rob Webster, Founder, Canton Marketing Solutions

It has been widely discussed that GAFA (Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook) takes an ever-larger share of overall advertising revenue. This is starving our publishers and valuable content creators. Arguably this trend even has the potential to damage democracy itself. 

Most of the why has been about the power of these giants, the data, the media opportunity.

However, the single most important thing that encourages the dominance is they make life easy.

Consider. You are a new business selling widgets. To advertise on Facebook you get an account through your existing Facebook login, upload money via a credit card, take simple images from your site, write your own text and before you know it you are live. There is plenty of help material available to make this easy process even more effective. Google is the same and even tells you how good a job you are doing, with straightforward analytics.

Spending money on our digital publishers is so much harder.

It could be done via an IO but that doesn’t really fit the programmatic dream, you need to know who to call and this would come with a high minimum spend.

To use most DSPs requires speaking to them, applying for a credit line or prepaying, signing a big contract, using an intimidating system, knowledge about how to choose your publishers, advanced creative to be effective, worries on placement and fraud and so on and so on. Even worse, under such a model a big proportion of the budget does not reach the end publisher instead going to the DSP or SSP or other intermediary.

The disparity really is stark and needs to be redressed.

Let’s make life easier

Advanced buyers can use a DSP but there should be a simple option too. A simple principle of sales is that you don’t make it hard for your customer to buy. This applies to digital display but also video, native or any channel.

If we don’t address this then the future of advertising for many may be a marketing manager simply stating, “OK Google, buy me some advertising”, “Siri I need to drive 100 orders at £10 CPA” or some such. Simplicity and power are a winning combination.

I really don’t think such a scenario is good for anyone. Trusting GAFA to look after our publishers and content creators looks to be a poor bet. They seem culturally not to believe in publishers at all and prefer crowd sourcing of content.

Advertisers also will suffer in many ways as they lose the power of the audiences great publishers create and engage.

2019 is a year of change and opportunity. My hope is that as we enter the next decade independent adtech steps up to the plate to deliver simplicity and power to both advertisers and publishers.

Initiatives driven by the likes of Ozone, Teads and Rezonence are all a step in the right direction.

 It would be nice for the marketing manager above to have a range of easy-to-use independent programs to choose from when they ask their device to help them buy some media. It would be nice for such programs to fairly allocate media spend to publishers based on advertiser value. It would be nice if such an ecosystem allowed quality, ethical content producers and journalists to flourish.

I think this is a dream worth fighting for.