Advertising in the New Consumer Era With a Powerful Alternative


The path forward is a future where publishers are the preferred platform for audiences to gain trusted and verifiable information. The common theme for publishers and advertisers is that if there is a powerful alternative that reduces reliance on the Google and Facebook duopoly, it should be embraced, says James Milne, managing director of Northern Europe, Outbrain.

The events of 2020 have brought about significant and lasting impacts across the advertising industry. Multiplied by today’s societal and economic realities, consumers have placed emphasis on trusted environmentsOpens a new window and purposeful advertising. Today, our industry must respond to that by paving the way for a new era where consumers truly come first.

To do this, we must embrace a powerful alternative to Google and Facebook. For us at Outbrain, despite our merger with Taboola being called off, it means renewing our promise to support local publishers, and [in the UK] that commitment is stronger than ever.

Learn More: Search Advertising Monopolies Are Putting Brands at Risk

The Future Publishers Deserve

The events of 2020 are a stark reminder that quality journalism matters, as consumer trust in news sources has reached an all-time highOpens a new window . In fact, for COVID-19 related information, consumer trust in publishers is more than twice as high as social networks, according to the Reuters Institute. The mistrust towards social media platforms is a growing theme too. Some instances included unfounded claims of voter fraud by President Trump being mentioned in roughly 3.4 million social postsOpens a new window following election night and Facebook’s inability to stop fake news or create a system that effectively monitors these. Further, Twitter was forced to label false claims. All these events have put a spotlight back on the importance of independent journalism. Publishers, like the Daily Star, are seeing the impact of this change with 47% YOY growthOpens a new window in audience reach. It is clear to say consumer attention is shifting towards these premium and trusted publisher environments.

To maintain this momentum, publishers need a strategic partner to deliver product innovations that capture audience attention. That is why one of our main priorities has been to enhance the feed experience to power the next generation of discovery. Smartfeed enables publishers to deliver a dynamic feed experience to visitors on their sites. A move away from the standard ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and towards meaningful personalization, our technology ensures an engaging experience. With higher engagement rates, recirculation opportunities for publishers, and better ROAS for advertisers, Smartfeed enables publishers to compete against the duopoly.

The Future Advertisers Need

As evidenced by the #stophateforprofit campaign, navigating brand safety in a world of user-generated content, which can be harmful and misleading, is a massive challenge for brands. For marketers to achieve the scale they crave without compromising their brand’s reputation, they need more meaningful choices outside the duopoly. Statements, like the boycott against Facebook, are a call to action for a much-needed alternative.

We are answering that call with a new way to truly engage consumers within trusted publisher environments. The launch of our latest Smartad formats – Native Awareness+, Carousel, and App Install – bring the effectiveness of social media-style experiences to the open web, offering advertising solutions for both awareness and performance goals. As evidenced by Samsung, which leveraged Native Awareness+ to reach a more relevant audience interested in its AirDresser™ cabinet steamer, such new advertising experiences provide brands with the opportunity to drive awareness without having to rely on invasive formats. They also offer scale or greater impact outside the walled gardens. As a result of extending its Facebook social campaigns to highly viewable and brand-safe placements, Samsung achieved over 75% average viewability in media and an 0.34% average CTR, 240% higher than the standard native placement.

The bottom line is that consumers do not want to be interrupted online. Especially in an era where purpose marketing is on the rise, marketers must favor engagement to resonate and win business. Our consumer studyOpens a new window with research agency, Lumen reveals that native advertising on premium publisher sites is 44% more likely to be trusted, 21% more likely to be clicked on, and 24% more likely to lead to future purchases than ads on social platforms. Earning consumer trust is the key to building a sustainable digital economy.

Moreover, the future of advertising needs to include metrics that make sense and can be measured. Campaign success cannot be optimized through a cost model where advertisers pay for impressions often ignored. Advertisers need accountable media platforms that hold to a greater standard, like engagement, where they are actually paying for results. The world of digital advertising has become more sophisticated. It is time to raise the bar on what online experience looks like and have consumer preferences as the golden standard.

Learn More: Gearing up for 2021: Advertisers Must Be Ready for Anything

Faster, Stronger, Bolder

The path forward is a future where publishers are the preferred platform for audiences to gain trusted and verifiable information, where consumer preference is heard and acted on, and advertisers pay for true engagement rather than ignored impressions. The common theme for publishers and advertisers is that if there is a powerful alternative that reduces reliance on the duopoly, it should be embraced. There is the opportunity to do just that and be faster, stronger, and bolder. As we open the door to the next chapter of digital advertising, it is essential to ask yourself: “What do I want that future to look like?”