Publishers Poised to Tap Media Buyers’ 2021 Digital Budgets

BY Kathy Crosett
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A new survey conducted by AdWeek shows that content providers are ready to get back to the business of making money. Publishers, in particular, are poised to tap media buyers’ 2021 digital budgets. Further research by the IAB indicates that media buyers have specific plans for 2021, along with a few concerns.

Optimistic Publishers

B2B publishers express the most optimism with 33% saying their outlook is quite bullish for next year. Another 15% say they are slightly optimistic. Only 15% of B2C publishers call themselves very optimistic. But another 52% are slightly optimistic for their business growth in 2021.

When it comes to specifying growth, about 43% of B2C operators expect the bottom line to increase between 10% and 20%. On the other hand, 32% of B2B operators are looking for a bump of 30% or more.

Even as the long-​anticipated vaccine begins rolling out across the country, publishers remain cautious regarding their outlook about in-​person events. 34% of survey takers say they’ll begin scheduling in-​person events for Q3 2021. And 36% say their events will ramp up in Q4 2021.

Traditional newspaper and magazine publishers also believe they’ll generate more revenue by offering content through connected TV. One example of this shift is the new offering from Bloomberg titled Quicktake, which will target consumers interested in business news.

A World Without Cookies

Amazingly, 48% of publishers say they are unsure of the impact of the cookie-​less future on their business while 30% believe there will be a moderately negative impact. They may hold this attitude because they already possess a vast quantity of first-​party data. They built their data on the information they’ve gleaned from subscribers. However, they'll still need ways to reach out to consumers who may eventually become subscribers.

Media Buyers

How do these strategies fit with the concerns of media buyers? IAB data shows that media buyers have a new focus for 2021. After a rough start in 2020, which resulted in hastily assembled cause messaging, media buyers shifted to performance marketing. And in 2021, 64% of media buyers will continue to emphasize performance marketing. Buyers want more flexibility in the purchase cycle, and they will be evaluating plans and results more frequently.

Four in 10 media buyers also fear that many stakeholders don’t understand what the loss of cookies means when it comes to effective online advertising. Collecting first-​party data has been important to online marketers. But 37% don’t have enough of that information to effectively advertise. To improve their results, marketers will:

  • Increase creative testing 47%
  • Boost placement for incremental reach 41%
  • Pull away from placing ads near controversial/​upsetting content 41%
  • Reduce emphasis on bricks and mortar stores 8%

Media Buyers’ 2021 Digital Budgets

Media buyers estimate they’ll be spending 6% more on advertising in 2021 than they did this year. And sellers can tap into media buyers' 2021 digital budgets because spending in that format will increase by 14%. That increase means up to 71% all ad spending may be directed to digital formats as follows:

  • Paid search 16%
  • Social media 16%
  • Display 14%
  • Video — OTT and CTV 13%
  • Digital audio 5%
  • Podcast 4%
  • Digital out-​of-​home 3%

Marketers won’t be ignoring traditional media, although that spending will likely drop another 5%. The IAB survey data show the following anticipated market budget breakout for these formats:

  • Linear TV (broadcast and cable) 15%
  • Radio 4%
  • Out-​of-​home 4%
  • Print (newspaper and magazines) 3%
  • Direct Mail 3%

The Power of OTT/​CTV

Content providers and media buyers agree: OTT/​CTV will be the media format to watch in 2021. On average, 21% of linear TV ad budgets will be shifted to OTT/​CTV in 2021. When considering this format, buyers are impressed by:

  • Targeting and efficiency 81%
  • Incremental reach 55%
  • Opportunity to optimize creative 27%
  • Connection with younger audiences 58%
  • Easier ROI measurement 46%

Buyers are in line with sellers in terms of optimism for 2021. To help your client understand their presence in the marketplace and how they may want to tweak it, run a Digital Audit. The tool is available on AdMall from SalesFuel.