The State of Digital Advertising: Opportunities for Niche Publishers!

Mark Thompson, CEO of The New York Times, recently declared the state of digital advertising is a ‘nightmarish joke’ and a dangerous environment for brands, due in part to the rise of fake news, the ridiculous amount of programmatic offerings, and the general lack of ability for brands to control the places and content agencies for their ads.

While Thompson’s opinions are certainly biased, he’s not wrong that the digital advertising space isn’t exactly breeding trust these days.

Niche and regional publishers should take note of this trend.

With the rise in distrust of programmatic and automated buying, some publishers are teaming up to create new content opportunities and unified sales teams for competing against the scale of Facebook and Google. Niche and regional publishers should take note of this trend! Respond to industry distrust of the current digital advertising space by selling on the quality of your audience, trust and authority. The key to filling the digital advertiser trust gap is simple: audience data. 

Publishers need to know the audiences they are trying to sell, inside and out.

In order to satisfy client desires for targeting, you need to know the audiences you are trying to sell, inside and out. And not in a general sense. In order to compete with the Facebook Google duopoly, publishers must be able to serve up specific subsets of their audiences to align with the client’s goals. That comes in the form of content agency, geographic, demographic, psychographic and behavioral targeting.

With big opportunity comes big challenges.

There’s no question that niche and regional publishers can sell on content agency and the assumptions that come with that. For example, a regional publication in Dallas can reasonably claim it reaches people living in the Dallas area. Bark magazine can confidently state that its readers are likely dog owners.The ability to go beyond those assumptions is what will continue to move the needle.  

In order to stay relevant to the reader and the advertiser, publishers must know their readers on an individual level and need the technology that allows them to do that. And gaining this in-depth knowledge about customers doesn’t happen by accident. It requires the tools, focus and strategy to personalize interactions with your audience in a way that shows you’re not only listening to them, but responding in a valuable, relevant way.

Unify your database.

The first step is a unified database of ALL your audiences (subscribers, web visitors, event attendees, and e-commerce shoppers). This allows you to track an unlimited amount of data points and automate emails and campaigns. Additionally, a unified database brings benefits beyond advertising opportunities. It allows for personalization in content and messaging. It allows publishers to serve up the right offer at the very right time to maximize conversions.

Niche publishers’ deep and meaningful relationship with their audience is the industry’s answer to advertiser warranted concerns about trust, authority and quality. Those publishers that are ready to address those concerns will no doubt reap the returns.


More about these Authors:

More about Alan: Alan Centofante has helped over 100 niche publishers build their audiences since the 1980s.  Nothing is more fun than helping a magazine become a #1 Bestseller in their market! His company is now helping niche media clients build their digital revenue with his company’s propriety email marketing database and digital revenue case studies. He spends his free time eating, beveraging, and biking or basically being totally worthless.  The perfect day is going on a 40 mile bike ride, ending up at a great bar with amazing food. Heaven!


More about Melissa: Melissa is Owner of Melissa Chowning Media. Even in her free time, she geeks out on digital marketing — which is why she walks into work every day with her wheels already turning. Melissa guides her clients’ digital strategies and audience development efforts to drive traffic, engagement, and retention. Formerly the Audience Development Director of D Magazine, Melissa understands that the key to audience growth is also monetization. When the self-proclaimed “big nerd” isn’t immersed in the digital world, you’ll likely find her reading, listening to podcasts, and keeping busy with her two children, both under the age of 5.

Editor’s note: Melissa will be leading the session, “Selling Data Without Selling Out Your Audience: A Niche Publishers’ Ultimate Guide” at the 2017 Niche Digital Summit in Chicago, Sept. 25-27.


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