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Digital media industry trends, 10/23/20

We have some exciting updates about our preparations for the future of digital advertising, including the rollout of CafeMedia Email Identity and welcoming Don Marti, our newest team member hired specifically to represent independent publishers in the World Wide Web...

By Paul Bannister

We have some exciting updates about our preparations for the future of digital advertising, including the rollout of CafeMedia Email Identity and welcoming Don Marti, our newest team member hired specifically to represent independent publishers in the World Wide Web Consortium. In addition, Google has expanded its use of BERT to improve search queries.!

Ad spending trends

Q4 is heating up from a revenue perspective and we’re starting to see early signs of the holiday bump. As we forecasted a few weeks ago, Q4 is shaping up to be the best ever. There’s still much uncertainty in the world, so we’re not counting our proverbial chickens just yet, but we’re still cautiously optimistic for a very strong end-of-year finish.

The future of digital advertising

This was a big week as we prepared for the “death of the cookie” on a number of different fronts. First, we released CafeMedia Email Identity, our new platform that works behind the scenes on publisher websites to turn email addresses — entered on newsletter signup forms, comment submissions, and other areas — into privacy-conscious identity tokens that can provide information to advertisers and increase the value of those users. 

This is one of several ways we’re branching into new areas to ensure that CafeMedia publishers’ revenue is minimally affected by future industry changes. If you haven’t already signed up for CafeMedia Email Identity, you can opt in right here!

Our new team member will represent CafeMedia publishers in the W3C

The other main set of updates this week revolve around efforts in the World Wide Web Consortium. This is the trade group responsible for setting all of the standards for the web, and it’s where Google is discussing their forthcoming changes with the rest of the industry. We’ve already been very involved in the process, and this week we stepped it up to another level by welcoming Don Marti to our team. 

Don has tremendous experience within the W3C, open sources communities, and other relevant areas, and will be our main representative within that group. He previously worked at Mozilla, Consumer Reports, and even ran an ad-supported website, LinuxWorld. Don will be a huge part of CafeMedia’s industry efforts, advocating for our publishers and ensuring the absolute best outcome as digital advertising transforms in the future.

We’re leading the charge to support independent publishers

This was also the second week of the W3C’s annual conference, this year being held entirely online. We participated in eight hours of meetings about the new digital advertising standards and made sure that the interests of our publishers were part of those discussions. The only other publisher representatives at the event were Hearst, IBM Watson (Weather.com), Axel Springer (a large European publisher), and The Washington Post. 

There are a number of other meetings next week and we’ll make sure that CafeMedia publishers are represented and that the standards are supportive of independent creators and publishers on the open web.

We’ve also been very active in sharing and discussing our specific evaluations of these new proposals with the press. Since we’ve been at the forefront of these efforts, many of the very large publishers are looking to us (and to CafeMedia publishers!) to help them navigate the future. Read some of the articles we’ve written or where we’ve been quoted: here, here, here, here, and here!

Google BERT offers higher-quality search results

Introduced back in 2018, BERT is a technique used by Google to understand content through contextual clues. While initially only used on about 10% of searches, this month Google announced that BERT is now being used on almost 100% of English search queries.

By looking at small but important words like “for” and “to”, BERT can better understand the intent of a search query and return results that, ideally, best apply to the searcher’s needs.

What does this mean for publishers? As always, Google is invested in providing the most relevant, highest quality content for searchers, so your commitment to producing specific, comprehensive information that serves readers is always the best plan of action.

Additionally, as searchers begin to realize the benefits of being more specific and using natural language in their queries, this will help the whole system become more efficient in returning relevant results.