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5 considerations for European publishers in 2020

Tom Croft
Account Manager

As we enter 2020, many challenges of the past will follow publishers into the new year, but with them comes promising opportunity in the form of continued advancements in the digital media space.

The feeling remains that GDPR will continue to be the recurring theme for those involved in European digital media, and while this is of significant importance, there are a number of other core considerations that shouldn’t be ignored, particularly for publishers.

Here, we cover 5 themes for European publishers to keep top of mind as we enter a new decade:


1. Tackling the complications surrounding brand suitability

Up until the present, the digital media ecosystem has typically focused on traditional methods to ensure brand safety—which is asking the simple question of whether a publication is safe to advertise on. While this approach helps prevent brand safety breaches, it does not allow for nuance, and it may also block content that alternative advertisers consider a suitable environment. In a post-GDPR world, contextual environment becomes even more important in order to effectively reach a specific audience.

For publishers, it’s key to ensure their contextual technology partner can tackle subjectivity and unlock more inventory by ensuring the suitability of content.


2. Committing to higher viewability standards

Teads recently announced that they will make only 100% viewable ads billable. This initiative means buyers only pay for inventory that meets their own viewability standards. This is one example of an industry shift surrounding media quality that we’re likely to see more often.

While this poses a challenge to publishers with poor viewability, it is a powerful incentive to improve performance to attract high-quality advertisers.

Thankfully for publishers, there are advanced viewability metrics available that allow them to tell more compelling media-quality stories. These metrics help publishers understand the following:

  • Was the ad in focus, or served in a background tab?

  • Were any of the ad pixels visible on the user’s screen?

  • What percent of impressions had some pixels on screen but not enough to meet the IAB definition of viewability?

  • What percent of impressions had enough pixels on screen but not for a long enough time to meet this definition?

Armed with these data and insights, publishers are empowered to control the narrative with advertisers and showcase that their inventory is premium.


3. Taking proactive action to identify invalid traffic (IVT) and ad fraud

Invalid Traffic (IVT) is an often-misunderstood and tricky subject. No publisher wants to hear that any of its inventory is classified as invalid. Having buyer clawbacks means higher ad-serving costs and makes it harder to forecast revenue.  

But given the nature of the digital ecosystem, some level of IVT is commonplace. The average level of IVT in Q2 2019 was 5%, up from 4.4% year-on-year. It’s not unusual, for example, to see B2B website content scraped by bots, or to see users access these sites with a VPN to mask their true location.

The critical element of this is being able to understand the types of IVT your site is getting—having only a gross IVT number isn’t enough—and the preventive methods to stop the traffic from being sold to buyers. Publishers should ensure the technology provider they utilize to measure and help prevent IVT can provide a detailed breakdown to identify and restrict the source.

Doing this in alignment with an auto-refresh solution helps minimize any effect on inventory scale.  

(Data from Moat Benchmarks Q2 2019 and Q2 2018, Global Display Desktop Benchmarks)


4. Employing strategic data analysis on all media activations

Being able to take action off of data is critical, and can strongly influence strategic decisions around content creation, particularly on ad-funded websites. The fundamental question has to do with the relationship between content and ad performance, and what story the data is actually telling.

Publishers can look at data to determine the relationship between content length and ad performance, getting granular as to the effectiveness of specific ad placement on the page or how long a visitor listened to a video with the audio on.

Using these ideas as a starting point, publishers can tighten up their media strategies while also keeping the focus on user experience.


5. Measuring success and demonstrating quality

With the above points in mind, the end question is how publishers can measure success, define their strategy, and ultimately increase their bottom line in 2020? The answer is not a simple one but starts with tracking smart metrics and using trusted tools to help get a holistic view of how all digital media is performing. Some key questions to ask are:

  • What kind of viewability, in-view time, and universal interaction metrics are ads showing across contextually relevant content?

  • How does performance compare without contextual targeting, and how does it benchmark against industry averages?

  • Can we use this data to demonstrate and prove the quality of our content?

Further, as GDPR restricts use of data and 3rd party audiences, publishers will need to redefine “audiences.” Concepts like context-based audiences—developed through contextual targeting and analysis—will become the standard. Publishers need to drive that discussion with advertisers and own that narrative, demonstrating the value of their audience to advertisers, and educate them along the way.


As publishers adjust to the changes brought forth by privacy legislation, these themes will not only determine future success but also help measure the true impact of media and work toward making brand advertising more effective online. Publishers have a huge opportunity to use the advancements of digital to help drive user experience and enhance the overall online climate. As we see these considerations implemented and improved upon, the next decade will prove to be an exciting one.

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