Top 7 Predictions for Publisher Monetization in 2015

2014 has been a big year for all the digital ad players – advertisers, ad agencies, ad networks, and the publishers. We’ve seen several ad formats grow big time the previous year – leading to new trends in digital advertising, as well as increased profitability for the publishers. This new year of 2015, let’s focus on some of our best predictions on upcoming publisher monetization schemes to watch out for.

1) Native advertising will take a big chunk out of the display advertising pie

Q4 2014 was probably the biggest quarter native advertising has ever seen several times over. Once the quarter started, the native ad players hit the publishers with an insatiable fury. They came all at once too. They were equipped with many big brand advertiser campaigns and some had what seemed like almost unlimited budgets with high payouts.

The creatives weren’t as interesting as they lead the publishers on to think, but they were a lot more engaging than the normal display ads. This was proven out by their engagement results. CTRs above 1% were not rare and RPMs were sky high. The ads were very integrated and that was a big contributor to the high CTR.

It’ll be interesting to see if the native players continue to stick with highly integrated placements that get a potentially high percentage of accidental clicks and bounce rates as a result. Either way, native ad performance was great in Q4 2014 and publishers will begin to really take notice in 2015.

Related Read: How Can Bloggers Use Native Advertising and Content Marketing?

It’ll be up to advertiser commitment to native advertising, whether native ads as a whole has legs. Our bet is that it does. The ability to place highly integrated ads that get high engagement and usually lead to white label advertorials is like crack too big brand advertisers.

Native advertising today isn’t quite as engaging or as interesting as it is sold to be, but as the cream rises to the top, creatives will improve and targeting technology will be properly used, we believe these ads will take a large portion of the total online advertising pie.

Related Read: 5 Tips in Monetizing Native Ads

2) The real highly targeted/contextual native ad players will dominate and the rest will slowly die off

As the publishers and advertisers start to open their eyes to the great initial results of native advertising, so will new incumbents. New native advertising networks will flood the market with high promises and low-value offerings looking for flash-in-the-pan profits. This will accelerate if a big player like Google, Microsoft or Yahoo buys a native ad network.

As with any new market, it will cut its own fat over time and the flash-in-the-pan native ad networks will die off and the top native ad networks that actually create value in the market will innovate and dominate. Right now targeting is quite rudimentary and not too much innovation has been put into the native ad creatives.

New incumbents will innovate better targeting technology, clever new creative types and they’ll find new sections to place native ads that will fit like a glove. We’re still in Wild West stage for the native advertising industry though. There will be a lot more spammy native ad networks popping up than value-add native ad networks. Be wary of which networks you choose to run your native ad campaigns with.

3) First-party data will become more manageable via ad servers and easier to sell on the market

DFP premium has some great first-party management features that less than 1% of DFP publishers even know about. Even the publishers that use DFP premium have no clue about it or how to use the features. Google made a great step to include it in the DFP Publisher University. The first-party data management tools are only available for DFP Premium and not DFP Small Business.

This is the first time I’ve seen DFP Premium have a worthwhile feature over DFP Small Business. I don’t think Google will withhold the First Party data management features from DFP Small Business over the next few years, but in the meantime, this might be worth switching to DFP Premium and *gasp* pay for your ad server because the additional revenue that could be made on first-party data can be quite lucrative.

More data consultants will come into the picture and help publishers get set up on their aggregated DFP premium accounts which they will use for their advantage in order to sell to interested buyers for a revenue share. This will be a great value-add to publishers because 99%+ of them would not do it themselves.

4) Custom RTB setups will become more widespread for large publishers

Over time, the Ad Exchanges and RTBs will simplify the custom RTB setups for publishers. Currently, most of the providers offer long setups requiring a decent level of developer resources to learn and implement correctly. The setups can be fairly complex on the DFP end as well when going through for the first time. These setups will become more automated, the instructions will improve (ie. not written by a junior developer) and the ad latency will improve as well.

It’ll be interesting which player will dominate this niche. Most plug into the same DSPs and exchanges to drive demand to the custom/private RTB so demand is quite redundant across the custom RTB players. But then there’s Amazon, which is fully relying on custom RTB setups and only running Amazon demand.

Custom RTBs can co-exist as well, but running several at once can get quite convoluted and a webmaster’s nightmare in the header of each page. Later in 2015 aggregated custom, RTBs should come into the picture as well, even though most current custom RTBs claim to target the most exchanges and DSPs under the moon.

5) Pre, mid and post-roll video advertising setups will become simplified for your average publisher to implement

At the moment, to implement pre, mid and/or post-roll video ads is convoluted and ambiguous at best. This will be improved by Google. Setting up video ads via DFP Small Business is possible, but very cumbersome. This feature will make itself into the main revenue source management features of DFP Small Business via Google Ad Exchange’s video ad demand.

Including video ad setup in Publisher University was a great step towards this. Expect unique video content to become more mainstream and a larger percentage of videos to be monetized as publishers realize how lucrative they are and as the setups become simpler.

Related Read: How to Monetize Adsense for Videos

6) Facebook will release an external publisher offering to rival Google AdSense/Ad Exchange

People have been waiting for this for a very long time. It’s about time Google has had some legitimate competition, at least on the publisher end. Google has the targeting engine down by capturing the buyer’s intent via search. Much of this translates into the Google Display Network via contextual targeting. Google has done this so well and has improved on it every year while building unparalleled advertiser confidence.

However, there’s a new kid on the block now. While Facebook is getting more page views than they know what to do with, they’re a public company, so they’re not going to stop at just advertising internally. There’s a big world of publishers out there and a lot of money to be made on top of what Google is offering. Most publishers would jump at the opportunity to monetize their display traffic with another big name player.

Google has the keyword intent data and Facebook has the social/demographic data. Both are two different ways to predict the probability that a user will buy or engage with an advertiser’s product or brand. Facebook is very close to being able to run a display ad network for external publishers and leverage the data Facebook already has from following the browsing experience of each of its users. A large percentage of publishers already have the Facebook widget pinned to their sidebar.

It won’t be much of stretch to get ad tags targeting those same users. These users are already being targeted via other DSPs, exchanges and ad networks. We’re willing to bet that Facebook is ready to cut out the middleman and offer a stand-alone Ad Exchange for publishers to monetize their sites.

7) Google will release many new revenue streams for publishers that have been recently popular

Google has a good idea what Facebook is scheming and no doubt is making plans of their own. Google is also feeling the push from new trending revenue streams like content discovery ads, native ads, and mobile interstitials. Google will release new revenue streams available to publishers.

They will do this in typical Google fashion. Offer the beta to their large and most trusted premium publishers to refine, then offer it to some vendor partners followed by launching it in full as a new ad tag for AdSense or automatically integrate it into the Ad Exchange demand.

Google should also be cooking up some innovative revenue streams of their own which would be released in 2015 as long as the betas go successfully. Keep an eye open on their blog for these new revenue streams, or even better, our blog. Don’t sell Google short of their innovative offerings. They may be a big company, but they can still think outside of the box. It still takes them a long time to release these products though. Perhaps 2015 is a bit optimistic then.

In Conclusion: Google vs Facebook

The end of 2015 could very well mold into a two-horse race between Google and Facebook. This might take a few years to shape into a legitimate two-horse race, though since Google has such a huge lead, however, publishers are ready to jump to another big name player and could so quickly if Facebook can perform.
Some strong native ad players could infringe on Google and Facebook’s piece of the pie though. However, every ad network and their dog already have or is working on their own native ad offering.

The current large native ad players like Sharethrough will have to be diligent to keep up their lead in their niche.
We’re happy to see new players like Facebook enter the industry and would enjoy seeing native advertising do well. MonetizeMore thrives in a competitive market and publisher are the ones to benefit the most. Here’s to a competitive and innovative 2015 for publisher monetization!

If you’d like to learn more about how your publisher network could benefit from the latest trends, contact us here.

We can also sign you up for FREE to Doubleclick Ad Exchange – the premium version of Adsense.


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Kean Graham

CEO and Founder at MonetizeMore

Kean is the resident expert in Ad Optimization covering areas like AdSense Optimization, DFP Management, and third-party ad network partnerships. Kean believes in the supremacy of direct publisher deals and holistic optimization as keys to effective and consistent ad revenue increases.

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