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January 22, 2024updated 22 Feb 2024 3:59pm

How publishers can buck the trend of declining online advertising spend

Four strategies to help publishers maximise online advertising revenue.

By Press Gazette

As Google this year begins to phase out cookies on Chrome, publishers and tech vendors are clamouring to find new ways to monetise journalism on the open web.

The addressability crisis has already helped contribute to more than 8,000 newsroom jobs being lost in the UK and the USA last year, according to new Press Gazette research.

Opti Digital is one company which is working closely with publishers offering solutions to fill the gap left by the end of third-party cookies and the growing anonymity of online readers.

Here it presents four ways publishers can maximise online advertising revenue and buck the prevailing trend of online advertising decline which was seen in 2023.


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1) Display the right metrics to attract buyers

In the absence of third-party cookies enabling precise targeting, advertisers may decide to cut back on media investments in 2024, due to the lack of a market-proven alternative solution.

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Asked how publishers should be preparing for this, Opti Digital chief strategy officer and co-founder Sebastien Moutte said: “Make sure that you work with partners that are ready to monetise and to segment your audience and properly analyse them. Make sure that the advertiser that wants to buy your audience will have the right signals received from your audience to target your readers properly and get a high ROI”. Opti Digital is currently able to provide its publishers with first-party metrics that can influence buyers’ decisions, notably the measurement of attention.

2) Optimise speed for more user-friendly browsing

Another piece of advice is ensuring that adverts load quickly, work efficiently and don’t harm user experience. “A website should load as fast with adverts on the page as it does when there aren’t any,” Moutte insisted. “If publishers don’t pay attention to this optimisation then they risk losing their audience.” For example, lazy loading is a technique that improves performance by selectively sending ad requests and loading content as it becomes visible to the user, rather than multiplying ad calls and loading all content upfront.

The loading speed of a site’s elements is all the more important for mobile devices, which account for more than 70% of a website’s traffic. Moutte says their ad management solution tags are among the fastest on the market, weighing only 20Kb, which is crucial, as page load speeds are one of the most important factors when it comes to discoverability and ranking on Google search results. With a fast 3G smartphone, downloading the new version of Opti Digital’s script takes just 1.5 seconds, which enables advertisers to deliver their ads in an optimal environment, and improve investments on publishers’ websites.

Opti Digital CSO also highly recommends to switch from client-side ad calls to a cloud header bidding wrapper to make ad management lighter and participate in improving the page speed.

3) Reducing ad calls

One of the major trends in 2023, which should continue in 2024, is to prioritise quality over quantity. To achieve this, publishers can implement bid throttling. This strategy consists of publishers filtering advertising calls before sending them to SSPs. The algorithm decides the volume of calls to partners based on their probability of response or time-out by country, page, position, etc. From the SSPs’ perspective, traffic shaping improves the quality of the inventory they receive and increases their profitability and participation in auctions. This approach contributes to the reduction of the carbon footprint and the media publisher does not lose value but creating scarcity may make it even more profitable.

To make each impression as cost-effective as possible, publishers must also decorate each call with floor price data that avoids wasted bid requests by preventing responses below the minimum value requested. Opti Digital is one of the ad tech companies offering a dynamic flooring solution that uses AI to calculate and adjust floors in real-time.

4) Adopt innovative formats to avoid advertising blindness

While publishers may be tempted to increase advertising pressure to boost revenues, it’s essential to protect the user experience by integrating optimised formats tailored to the audience. Publishers should display adverts in a way that doesn’t disrupt the user’s website browsing experience and limit intrusive ads such as pop-up ads and autoplay videos that automatically have the sound on. So-called native adverts that blend in with the “look and feel of the surrounding content” are a better option, according to Moutte.

With this logic in mind, Opti Digital has developed a new ad format which avoids what Moutte describes as “banner blindness” while at the same time not impacting on user experience. It’s similar to the reader experience on Instagram Stories and comprises a carousel which has different animated elements. “We see that these types of ads are actually generating more engagement from the audiences,” he says. New ad formats stand more chance of catching the eye of readers who have become virtually immune to more traditional approaches. This advertising format is highly effective because it is able to predict each reader’s degree of attention, at impression level, and bid accordingly.

As it has turned out, online spending with publishers has fallen in the UK and US in 2023 even as the display advertising market has grown overall (Check here how you compare with other media in your category). Companies like Opti Digital are hoping this trend can be reversed in 2024, as suggested by some recent reports. But for this to happen, it is essential that media publishers work with partners that stay ahead of ad tech developments and bring ROI to advertisers.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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