Marketers strike deals with publishers instead of ad exchanges

The trend: The digital advertising market is still contracting as it deals with addressability issues and recedes from pandemic highs, prompting marketers to strike more deals directly with publishers rather than purchase ad space on open exchanges, per Digiday.

Publishers swoop in: The redistributing of ad dollars across different formats is aiding the embattled publishing industry—or at least benefiting those at the top.

  • Those with the most leverage are so-called “premium publishers” with guaranteed large audiences and reach. Publications like The Athletic (which is launching ads for the first time after it was acquired by The New York Times) and Ozone Project (an ad consortium that includes The Guardian) have been contacting marketers directly.
  • The opportunity is pitched as a win-win: Marketers gain guaranteed access to these large publications’ audiences, while publishers can charge more and spare themselves the cut to intermediaries and exchanges.
  • But the same opportunity doesn’t exist for all publishers, and the industry will need far more help to reverse its dramatic misfortunes. Layoffs have hit publications across the internet like wildfire, affecting outlets like Vox, smaller niche publishers, and even giants like The Washington Post.

The big takeaway: The addressability crisis has created a respite for some digital publishers who have been reeling from years of dwindling ad revenues, but the publishing industry’s misfortunes are still far from over.

  • The change likely doesn’t presage a massive shift but instead shows that during a downturn, marketers are willing to pay more for direct access to audiences with immediately verifiable results.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Marketing & Advertising Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the advertising industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.