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Is Ad-Tech Over in Digital Publishing?

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Ad-Tech has changed the way content creators advertise, but are they dying?

by Rose Johnstone —

The concept of ‘Ad-Tech’ is broad, and as web publishing becomes increasingly prevalent, it’s come to encompass many more elements. From the software which allows publishers to track how much money they’re spending on advertising, to CMS systems, ad-tech has been a key driver of content strategies.

It’s still common for web publishers to work with a variety of ad-tech vendors, but problems are starting to arise, with a number of publishers blaming slow webpage loading speeds on advertising. Jim Edwards, who works as a reporter for Business Insider, recently admitted to turning on ad-blocker when he surfed the internet.

Considered a sin at Business Insider due to the fact that the company relies on advertising for the majority of its revenues, Jim’s actions – according to the media publication – go against the social contract which exists between publishers and readers; we give you content for free as long as you promise to take notice of our adverts.

Jim’s not alone, there are now 198 million ad-block users around the world, which when combined have cost publishers an estimated $22 billion already this year. This amount, however, should be taken with a pinch of salt. Slow websites are off putting, with users quickly getting frustrated when they are made to wait for an article to appear. If ad-blockers cause this to happen, there’s no telling how much traffic has been directed away from webpages, ultimately causing publishers to lose money.

Vox Media – called the ‘the modern-day Condé Nast’ – has been keen to accentuate that it doesn’t like working with ad tech companies and avoids doing it whenever possible. This disdain for ad-tech has mainly come about due to publishers not wanting third parities to sell their advertising space or have access to their audience data.

In the Wall Street Journal, Mike Shields, states: ‘Some of the publishers in question say they are learning from what they see are mistakes made by traditional publishers, who over the past few years started handling off lots of unsold ad space to third parties, only to see pricing take a hit’.

Advertising will continue to be the main source of revenue for web publishers, but its longevity has been called into question by the increasing wariness companies have towards ad-tech. Not only do publishers want their content to load as quickly as possible, they also want to keep hold of their audience data.

The fact that Vox Media has vocalized its unease about ad-tech is significant, and while the industry is not in danger yet, it could be very soon.

They must remain vigilant as to the the threats that are coming their way.

Explore these themes and more at the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit. Speakers include: Forbes, Elite Daily, The Huffington Post, Scholastic, Vice & more. IBPA members can save 20% on two-day passes with special discount code. Please email Mimi Le to receive the code.

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