The Digiday Podcast is a weekly show on the big stories and issues that matter to brands, agencies and publishers as they transition to the digital age.
GroupM’s Kieley Taylor and Amanda Grant are on the lookout for the future of identity in advertising
The digital advertising industry is in the midst of an identity crisis. Between the third-party cookie’s impending demise and Apple’s mobile app tracking crackdown, advertisers and agencies are having to figure the future of identity in digital advertising. Fortunately, that future has been a long time coming.
“For better or worse, the crystal ball has been decently clear that this is the direction we’re going from regulatory pressures, from a consolidation in terms of who is owning and controlling experiences through the lens of a browser, through the lens of an operating system. So we take solace in that there’s been a bit of a head start,” said GroupM global head of partnerships Kieley Taylor in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. Taylor was joined by GroupM global head of social Amanda Grant.
Further helping advertising figure out the identity situation is Apple’s mobile app tracking crackdown. That change is expected to take place this spring and is “giving us really good training wheels for the cookie-based changes that are going to come about,” Taylor said.
However, what that experience is showing so far is that advertisers may want to exchange the training wheels for off-road tires as they try to navigate the bumpy trails ahead. Although Apple has been fairly clear in saying that apps will need people’s permission in order to continue to track them for advertising purposes, “the platforms are all interpreting that very differently as it impacts their platforms. So it’s not like we have a single rules of the road for social activation moving forward,” said Grant.
Social media ‘wild, wild west’: How Harper’s Bazaar follows digital trends to retain its authority in fashion
Harper's Bazaar is a 153-year-old legacy magazine using social media platforms to help it become a modern, digital fashion authority.
The brand's digital presence not only helps amplify its print stories, but diversify revenue through e-commerce and advertising — turning fans of the magazine into digital consumers of luxury fashion and beauty.
And three months ago, Nikki Ogunnaike rejoined the magazine as its new digital director to help strategize ways it can grow and monetize its audience, including staying on top of digital trends.
"Now is this weird, sort of wild, wild west time" of new social media platforms that Harper's has to consider in its digital strategy, including Clubhouse and Twitch, said Ogunnaike on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast.
'We shouldn't have to go on so many first dates': How Bustle Digital Group is wooing advertisers
The ways in which publishers solved their 2020 problems vary, but Bustle Digital Group's approach included reestablishing longterm relationships with advertisers in a variety of categories and leaning on retail partners like Amazon to bring in incremental commerce revenue.
During the first quarter of 2020, Bustle Digital Group was projected to be up 40% in revenue over 2019 by the end of the year, according to Jason Wagenheim, BDG's president and chief revenue officer. But by March, reality of what the year would hold had set in and that projection was thrown out the window.
"We had the darkest 72 hours in our company's history where literally tens of millions of dollars just cancelled within a three day time period," said Wagenheim in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast. "There was a lot of panic at the start of the pandemic."
Ultimately, BDG ended the year about 5% up from 2019, thanks to its position in a myriad of advertising categories. Wagenheim did not provide exact revenue figures. "It's the importance of being able to satisfy retail as much as tech as much as auto as much as fashion," he said.
CBS News Digital’s Christy Tanner doesn’t expect to see a ‘Trump Slump’ in news consumption
News outlets experienced a surge in traffic and viewership during Donald Trump’s presidency right through to when he left office in January. In fact, between the inauguration of President Joe Biden and the attack on the U.S. Capitol, CBS News Digital received more readers to its site and attracted more viewers to its video programming in January than in any previous month in its history, according to CBS News Digital evp and gm Christy Tanner.
But now that Trump is out of office — and hopefully without another Capitol attack on the horizon — news outlets have been faced with the question of whether people’s interest in the news would subside. In other words, whether the Trump Bump would turn into a Trump Slump.
“I do not expect to see a slump. We still have some major, major compelling stories that are not going anywhere anytime soon,” Tanner said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast.
The election may be over, but there remains a pandemic, a racial reckoning and a climate crisis for news organizations to cover, said Tanner. “In many ways, what I’m happy about is we can focus on these really important stories now that we have a different president in office and a different type of news cycle,” she said.
'Proactive is the path': Group Nine's Geoff Schiller on his selling strategy
Last year proved to be one of the most challenging years on record for the media industry with ad revenue drying up in the second quarter, but for Group Nine, it was magnified by its entry into its first full year following the merger with PopSugar.
In the first few weeks of the merger, the company’s chief revenue officer Geoff Schiller came onto the Digiday Podcast to talk about the vertical sales strategy he implemented at the beginning of 2020 that required sellers to have a deep endemic focus — a strategy carried over from his time leading sales at PopSugar.
This would allow sales expertise that normally fits with a brand like PopSugar — like entertainment — transfer to a brand like Thrillist, after main sponsors in the travel and restaurant industry took a big hit and pulled back from advertising in 2020.
Navigating last year helped Schiller realize the horizontal focuses all of Group Nine’s titles needed to account for as advertisers’ needs shifted throughout the year. Pivoting to include the horizontal with the vertical, Group Nine’s revenue in 2020 was flat with 2019, according to Schiller, but the fourth quarter ended up being the best on record for the company.
'Urgency around the community': How Pop-Up Magazine pivoted to (even more) experimental storytelling
By March 16, theater doors around the country shut their doors. The Pop-Up Magazine touring production, which had just completed its first (and only) national tour of 2020, had to figure out where to go from there.
The publisher, known for its on-stage renditions of original magazine stories that rethought the performance of storytelling, had not previously filmed its shows. But the pandemic forced the publisher to experiment with a virtual format like many others and in true Pop-Up form, it came with a twist.
The publisher premiered its Spring show on YouTube Live, with performers filming themselves from home alongside animations and illustrations. And then wanting to push the experience even further, the company created a $70 issue-in-a-box and organized community groups and virtual experiences that could continue convening the show's fanbase despite not being in a shared theater space.
"The silver lining for us about 2020 and the pandemic is it was an opportunity for us to be very experimental with storytelling in different formats," said Chas Edwards, the president, publisher and co-founder of Pop-Up Magazine Productions. "And most importantly 2020 gave us permission to get closer to our audience in a variety of ways."