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Asociación Técnica de Diarios Latinoamericanos
Boletín Semanal abril 10, 2019

Ad blocking todavia es una amenaza sustancial para las fuentes de ganancias de los editores

Ad blocking, which caused mild hysteria in 2016, no longer grabs as many headlines but is still a substantial threat on a publisher’s bottom line, encouraging companies to diversify revenue sources and collaborate across the industry.

Multiple studies show the growth of ad blocking on desktop has steadied while the number of blocked impressions on mobile is growing, although slowly. Partly this growth is due to the number of ad impressions served on mobile growing as traffic migrates this way, but there are also new ad blocking entrants in the mobile market.

“It definitely feels to me that ad blocking took a back seat in terms of publisher priorities last year, due to the impact of GDPR, but it shouldn’t be forgotten,” said Nick Flood, managing director of digital at Dennis. “This threat certainly won’t be going away.”

What ad blocking has thrown into stark relief is the need for publishers to spread their bets. Future Publishing hit peak ad block concern in November 2017 when 54 percent of desktop impressions on its gaming sites were blocked, according to Zack Sullivan, chief revenue officer at the publisher.

“That was part of what pushed us into e-commerce — ad blocking was the stimulus for it — how to offer alternative means of monetizing audiences to fund journalism,” he said. Last year, Future said commerce revenue exceeds display ad revenue on its tech site T3.

Now, rates across Future’s portfolio have stabled to between 7 percent and 11 percent on desktop. Mobile is showing slow growth of 1 percent up to 7 percent, he added. The most effective way of getting people to interact with Future’s ad-block messages was by offering as many options as possible — such as whitelisting the site, disabling the ad blocker, becoming a member or viewing a video ad — with the messages written by the editors in the style of the site.

“The hysteria around ad blocking has subsided a little, but the problem is still there,” said Brian Kane, co-founder and COO at Sourcepoint. “The most successful strategy involves engagement of the consumer, offering choices; that’s the most respectful option.”

Gaming sites have always been ad-blocking magnets, where audiences are more savvy about technical workarounds. One company that offers publishers ad-block solutions said that it has seen mobile ad-block rates rise from 6 percent to 10 percent in a year on a gaming site, which the company didn’t want to name. By comparison, non-gaming sites see mobile ad-block rates hover at around 2 percent.

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For French news publisher Le Monde, ad blocking on desktop is stable at 25 percent, but mobile, 15 percent, is growing. But rather than reduce this, the publisher is focusing on driving reader revenue instead. “[Ad blocking] used to be the main priority two years ago; now we have one word: subscriptions,” said Pierre Buffet, head of digital at the publisher. “We have a more narrow scope, and we don’t want to lose energy trying to get people to turn off an ad blocker.”

However, Buffet believes these figures to be lower than the reality since ad blockers are blocking the publisher’s tracking scripts, and it’s highlighted another problem in untraceable traffic. “My concern is more about this ‘ghost’ traffic, which is clearly on a structural upward trend.” Increasing concerns over privacy from high-profile media cases, like Cambridge Analytica, are partly to blame. Just how much traffic and revenue are lost is hard to prove; in the coming months Le Monde plans to recover this traffic through working with its web analytics partners, AT Internet, and recover between 5 and 15 percent of pageviews

Ad blocking conversations have broadened out to be part of the wider discourse around ad quality and data privacy. Publishers like Dennis have integrated ad-block messaging into their GDPR consent management platforms. More focus on industrywide problems has led to closer collaborations. “Ad-block solutions companies are making louder noises to being publisher partners, rather than creating solutions that say this will have an impact on the bottom line,” said Richard Reeves, managing director of the Association of Online Publishers.

Despite the industry’s best efforts — last week, the Coalition for Better Ads announced last week it will adopt ad standards globally, and Google Chrome’s ad filter will be expanding globally July 9 — collectively millions in annual revenue is still being lost by U.K. publishers as a result of ad blocking, according to research from the Association of Online Publishers, which counts members including Condé Nast, ESI Media, Global, the Guardian and The Telegraph.

Partly, this is because ad blocking is a blunt tool. All publishers will get punished for bad actors, and there will always be cases of bad actors: Google has only needed to filter 1 percent of the millions of sites it has reviewed, but that ripple effect is vast.

Still, Google’s size has helped move the industry forward, said Sullivan. Google recognizes why publishers are suspicious of its motivations, but publishers are hungry for more details that the company isn’t able to share yet, such as about how it will work in practice and how it will impact the wider industry.

“Everyone gets it when you have that conversation [on ad standards], brands, agencies, SSPs, DSPs,” he said. “It’s been industrywide, but Google can help implement and police it; that’s their big gift to the industry.”

El periódico News UK está reformando su organización de ventas de avisos para lograr una integración

News UK has restructured its commercial team, creating new roles and teams that can sell joined-up audience insights to advertisers in a way they couldn’t have previously when divided into print and digital teams.

Rather than split the roles of sales directors into digital and print, there will now be two sales directors who cover both across each news brand: Owen Griffiths for The Sun and Caroline Tredget for The Times. They will both report to former digital commercial director Ben Walmsley, who has been promoted to the newly created role of commercial director of publishing covering News UK’s digital and print propositions.

News UK has also created a new strategic development team whose goal is to create consistency and clarity in the publisher’s commercial proposition to advertisers. It didn’t reveal headcount.

The team restructuring marks the next step in the business’s plans to capitalize on new capabilities introduced as a result of News UK’s investment in technology, namely its first-party data tool NewsIQ last summer. News UK has a considerable portfolio of subscriptions and ad-funded newspaper brands, radio stations and numerous brand extensions, including Sun Bingo, Sun Bets and Dream Team.

To map customer journeys across its various products, it created the NewsIQ platform, which pulls in billions of customer data sets and sorts them into three pillars of insights: customer preference, opinion and emotion. The results can be viewed via a single dashboard that all staff can access, and forms the backbone of the publisher’s strategy of creating a single customer view. “Publishers in the future will be much more than content businesses,” said Walmsley. “We want to offer services beyond content.”

Editorial teams are now actively adding in additional questions or polls to articles, such as what’s most important to them when they go on holiday. That way they can gather more data on people’s opinions and emotions to topics and reactions, all data which gets fed back into NewsIQ for other departments to use.

NewsIQ currently houses data that’s been supplied from over 4 million readers in this way, covering 400 category and topic segments, according to the publisher. For example, it has first-party transactional travel data for over 2.6 million users from Sun £9.50 ($12.25) Holidays.

In the case of The Times, the marketing team has used subscriber preferences and opinions to help reduce churn. Doing this reduced churn rate by 16 percent and drove over 7,000 incremental subscribers, according to Walmsley.

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Although The Sun is an ad-funded free-access tabloid, it garnered valuable audience insight during its two years behind a paywall, before that strategy was scrapped in 2015. That, plus the data on some 800,000 loyalty members, and 256,000 The Times digital-only subscribers are just a drop in the ocean of the pile of data the publisher has.

Having the data is one thing, but being able to do something meaningful with it that drives up revenue, is another. “We’re fortunate in that we have lots of data across numerous brand extensions, but that’s been built up over time in silos,” said Walmsley.

That’s where the News IQ platform comes in. “The main challenge is marrying the processes together into real-world points of interest that give you something useful,” he added. “When it comes to doing all that it’s about getting many different departments to share the same vision and be willing to undertake a significant 18-month project that, if done well, will never end but continue to iterate.”

The News IQ platform is being used for data insights internally, but in time, it will be opened out to all advertisers. Currently, there are a small number of test advertiser partners, though the publisher wouldn’t reveal details.

Obtaining a single customer view is useful in terms of strengthening a publisher’s pitch to agencies on the hunt for smart new ways to use first-party data to target their campaigns to the right people for the best results. But it is those publishers focused on a reader economy — subscriptions, memberships, micropayments and services businesses — which will benefit most from a single reader view, according to Douglas McCabe, CEO of media specialist Enders Analysis.

“Businesses that focus on monetizing users through digital advertising might see some benefit, but it will be much more limited,” McCabe said. “For too long, some publishers have been in denial that the former strategy must to some degree preclude the latter. What’s encouraging is that publishers seem now to have crossed that line.”

Los editores cuentan con el incremento de anuncios nativos

In 2017, native advertising brought in 20 percent of overall advertising revenue for news media organisations, according to the findings from the just-published “Native Advertising Trends in News Media,” the annual study conducted by WAN-IFRA and the Native Advertising Institute.

This year’s survey, which included 148 news media executives participating from 53 countries, also revealed that by 2021, publishers expect that 36 percent of their overall ad revenue will come from some form of native advertising.

“Publishers continue to hone their strategies around native advertising as it increasingly plays a significant role in their overall ad strategies,” says Vincent Peyrègne, CEO of WAN-IFRA. "With native advertising, advertisement becomes less disruptive and more relevant to the consumer experience. The appetite for native advertising grows as experiential becomes increasingly important to every business model, especially on mobile."

“Native advertising is still a fairly new discipline for many publishers, yet it is growing in financial importance,” says Jesper Laursen, Founder of the Native Advertising Institute. “It might not be the Holy Grail that will solve every problem in the industry, but this year’s study shows that it is becoming an integrated part of their business model and it’s going to be interesting to see how it evolves.”

In addition to the results of the survey, the report also includes three case studies featuring publishers such as The New York TimesJP/Politikens in Denmark, and The Atlantic.

Key findings

Here are a few highlights from the report:

  • 52% of publishers surveyed saidnative advertising is very important to their overall ad strategy, and 43% said it is important. 87% of respondents have a positive feeling towards native advertising.
  • Publishers are no doubt building and organising their operations to seize the opportunities that native advertising represents: 42% of respondentsto the survey say they now have their own dedicated native ad studio, up from 35% last year. Another 29% have a dedicated native ad team.
  • However, many publishers areusing their editorial team much less than just one year ago as this practice has dropped from 47% to 29%.
  • One disconcerting finding from the study shows that 9% of the publishers do not put any labelling on native advertising. It is better than last year’s 11%, but it is still a far cry from where it should be: 0%.

Milanuncios y la millonaria historia de éxito de los clasificados

El fundador de la web de clasificados, Ricardo García Cobaleda, acaba de vender lo poco que le quedaba de Milanuncios por 100 millones de euros, que se suman a los 50 millones que se embolsó en 2014. Repasamos la historia de una web que no cobra por insertar anuncios, pero que forma parte de un grupo de páginas de clasificados que factura más de 155 millones de euros al año bajo el paraguas del gigante nórdico Schibsted.

En 2005, en su casa de Cáceres, una ciudad de Extremadura, región colindante con Portugal y ubicada al suroeste de España, Ricardo García Cobaleda emprendía una solitaria y silenciosa guerra contra gigantes de la talla de Amazon, que ya entonces despuntaba en el comercio electrónico, o eBay. Es probable que en su mente estuviera el ejemplo de Craiglist, la web de clasificados fundada una década antes por el estadounidense Craig Newman, y que por aquellos años facturaba alrededor de 10 millones de dólares al año (aunque se trata de cifras estimadas y no oficiales). Craiglist era un objeto de estudio porque logró trasladar con éxito al entorno digital el negocio de los anuncios clasificados, uno de los puntales económicos de la prensa impresa.

Los primeros años del invento de Cobaleda, al que llamó 'Milanuncios', relegaron prácticamente la web a los anuncios de prostitución. Sea por el motivo que sea, la web no tardó mucho en despegar, a pesar de no contar con financiación de ningún tipo, basar su desarrollo en el trabajo exclusivo del propio Cobaleda y no cobrar por la inserción de los anuncios: poner un anuncio en Milanuncios es gratis. La web vivió durante sus primeros años de lo que generaba la publicidad de Google. Pero se desconoce cuánto facturaba.

Milanuncios y el sorpasso a Segundamano

Sí se conocían, sin embargo, algunos datos de audiencia de Milanuncios. En 2010 llegó el más importante, ya que superó en visitas a 'Segundamano.es', el decano de los clasificados en España que, además, había cerrado dos años antes su edición en papel. En 2012, por ejemplo, Milanuncios superaba los 11 millones de visitantes al mes, frente a los 8,2 de Segundamano.es. El sorpasso armó de valor a Cobaleda, quien creó un equipo a la altura del negocio que ya tenía entre manos, con contratación del exresponsable de eBay en España incluido (Klaus Gottschlich). En 2011 constituyó la empresa de forma legal. En aquel entonces, Milanuncios apenas tenía ocho empleados, frente a los 200 que se calcula que se quedaron en la calle cuando Segundamano cerró su edición en papel. Poco después, Schibsted devolvió el golpe a Milanuncios, aunque de golpe tuvo más bien poco.

La editora noruega, que data de 1839, culminó en 2013 la compra de Anuntis, la compañía española de la que ya era accionista mayoritaria y que acogía bajo su paraguas a la propia 'Segundamano', pero también a InfoJobs, Fotocasa o Coches.net. Pagó 69 millones de euros por el paquete de acciones que le faltaba a cambio de quedarse con los 27 millones de visitas que generaba al mes 'Segundamano.es', los 10 millones de visitas de Fotocasa o los 6 millones de visitas de Coches.net. Schibsted creó SCM Spain (Schibsted Classified Media Spain) como división para albergar estas plataformas de clasificados. Y entonces apuntó al pequeño mayor competidor que quedaba por libre: Milanuncios.

Schibsted y Milanucios

En 2014, Schibsted pagó 100 millones de euros por Milanuncios, de los cuales Cobaleda se embolsó 50 millones. El extremeño se quedó con el 10 % de SCM Spain, paquete que ahora, en 2019, acaba de vender a Schibsted por otros 100 millones de euros. Es decir: Cobaleda se ha embolsado directamente 150 millones de euros en 14 años gracias a su web de clasificados. Y SCM Spain queda valorada en 1.000 millones de euros. La filial española del grupo noruego facturó el año pasado 155 millones de euros, un 19 % más que el año anterior. Su Ebitda alcanzó los 46 millones de euros, un 64 % más que en 2017.

La compra permitirá a Schibsted controlar definitivamente todas sus webs de clasificados en España y ayudará a crear sinergias con las webs de este tipo que ya maneja alrededor del mundo, donde es un claro líder (pero a quien le falta por hacerse con la que es la joya de la corona en el sector inmobiliario, Idealista). A Cobaleda, por su parte, esta compra le permitirá pasar a la historia del Internet español como un emprendedor que desde su casa levantó un pequeño imperio digitalque le ha hecho millonario.