What Publishers Need to Know About Ad Sales and Content in 2016

logo-pubexec-x2Publishing Executive Magazine kept a close eye on ad trends this year. What they learned could be critical to your business.

2015 was a year of trial and error, watching and learning for many of us in the industry, as we saw publishers continue to innovate revenue streams through advertising and content marketing.

“As content and audience attention has migrated to the web and onto mobile devices, the world of media advertising has transformed dramatically,” writes Ellen Harvey in Publishing Executive. “Today brands are crunching audience data, purchasing ads programmatically, and investing in content marketing.”

What publishers are learning, according to Harvey, “is that in order to meet the new demands of the market, publishers need to take a fresh look at what they sell and how they sell.”

First on the list: Stop selling ads and start selling outcomes.

“It’s not about selling ad space in today’s media world,” wrote NAPCO Media president David Leskusky. “Salespeople need to learn how to sell outcomes.” Leskusky was writing about successfully selling content marketing services, an area that publishers are increasingly concerned with as sponsored content and native ads become more important to revenue.

Some, like Centro’s Katie Risch, encourage publishers to act more like agencies. “To meet broader needs and solidify their presence in the publishing world, publishers need to adopt an agency mindset to fully appeal to advertisers’ multifaceted needs,” Risch writes in Publishing Executive.

In a time of massive uncertainty owing to the digital ad meltdown, publishers hold all the cards for brands looking to engage in content marketing.

“Media companies have that trust built into their infrastructure, with a loyal audience essentially raising their hands to consume your content,” writes Peter Loibl of the Content Marketing Institute. “So if a media company continues to produce quality, compelling, and relevant content — even for a client — chances are that the audience will come, and stay.”

While there is much optimistic about the opportunities for publishers in this area, it’s worth repeating some recent warnings. As the FTC cracks down on native advertising, publishers and their brand partners need to keep their audience firmly front of mind. If they don’t, publishers risk ruining content marketing through deceptive practices and destroying that trust. If they do that, no amount of clever content can help sell that space.