Today, I’m excited to kick off a new series of posts that go deeper into the strategic approach we take to support, protect, and grow our publishers now and in the future. 

For those who don’t know me, I’m Emily, Chief Customer Officer at CafeMedia/AdThrive. In my role, my team and I are responsible for ensuring the success of every one of our publishers. Before joining CafeMedia/AdThrive, I worked at YouTube, leading a group of 60 strategic account managers. This team was responsible for helping more than 3,000 YouTube creators make a living from their content creation. 

In my previous role, I had a view of the most significant trends in the ad industry and how different shifts and changes impacted creators. When I saw what CafeMedia/AdThrive and its publishers were doing to transform the ad industry, I knew I wanted to be part of the team and our publishers’ story. 

The work my team and I do is rewarding when times are good, and amid a challenging economy and looming changes in the ad industry, our mission feels that much more critical. 

In the coming weeks, leaders across our company will share how CafeMedia/AdThrive uniquely delivers for our publishers via direct sales, ad code, SEO, and more. 

In today’s post, I’m sharing a closer look at what’s happening in the economy and the industry and our strategic approach to ensuring our publishers grow thriving businesses today and in the future. 

What challenges are publishers facing today?

A shaky economy
Currently, macroeconomic factors like high inflation, rising interest rates, a potential recession, supply chain issues, the war in Ukraine, and continued Covid uncertainty are weighing down the advertising market. Advertisers are pulling back their spending with different partners and channels as we speak. It is certainly possible they will dial back even more if the economy continues to weaken. Examples include big advertising businesses like Facebook, Google, Pinterest, and Snap, all showing declines in advertising revenue growth over the last few months and lowering revenue expectations for the future. 

Ad industry changes
The digital advertising industry is evolving given the upcoming elimination of third-party cookies, changes to privacy laws, and the ongoing efforts of the biggest companies and ad platforms in the world to capture even more of the pie. To say we operate in a complicated and highly competitive ad world is an understatement. However, we’ve been through seismic shifts in the industry before and have come out stronger. We are here to champion independent publishers and ensure they not only grow but prosper amid industry transformation.

Increasing demands on creators 
As every publisher knows, creating great content is critical. Still, today it’s the bare minimum for what it takes to build a sustainable and growing business. The list of requirements is endless–from how to deliver a great site experience and diversify into new revenue streams to the best ways to increase traffic from SEO, email, and social channels and manage vendors and staff. And we can’t forget the hours spent on finances, taxes, and legal. This work is hugely challenging in the best of times. We anticipate it will become even more daunting as things become more difficult and complex with economic uncertainty and a cookieless world.

Our role and operating philosophy

Advertisers choose between walled gardens (Facebook, Instagram, Snap, TikTok, Pinterest), large media companies (Hearst, DotDash Meredith, Disney), and independent publishers for every ad dollar. Platforms are positioned to grow their share as third-party cookies go away, which could lead to a smaller share for independent publishers to compete for on the open web. We want to ensure independent publishers get their fair share today and that industry changes don’t harm them in favor of big platforms. 

We view our role in helping publishers succeed in three connected but distinct ways: 

  1. Earn more money for publishers than they could make anywhere else
  2. Help publishers grow their audiences and scale their business through solutions like SEO, email, and more
  3. Protect publishers’ long-term livelihoods 

Any company attempting to serve the independent publisher seriously must have vast resources, the business insight and expertise to execute multiple strategies, and a seat at numerous tables within the advertising industry, such as Prebid, and the W3C, among others. 

To ensure CafeMedia/AdThrive publishers can navigate and weather whatever happens now and in the future:

We’re continuing to build our world-class team on behalf of our publishers. 
We’ve hired the smartest and most passionate team members in the world (many of whom you’ll hear from in the coming weeks and months). Some of our newest team leaders include Jeff, John, Michael, Steph, and Joline, to name a few. And we will continue to grow our nearly 300-person team with the best engineers, salespeople, data science and insights experts, account managers, and more–even if and when the economy worsens. 

We are bringing the full weight of our strength and resources to bear. 
Our publishers have an advantage with access to best-in-class resources that enable them to compete at the highest level. It begins with our publishers themselves, who are amazing individually but also collectively. Together, our publishers are the seventh-largest digital property on the open web. They are an essential buy for advertisers thanks to their collective size and scale and the strength of our industry-leading sales team. Beyond ensuring publishers take home more with us through ad code, insights, and exclusive partnerships, we’re also developing more solutions to solve their most pressing problems. The most recent example is our acquisition and integration of Topic, the leading AI-powered SEO solution on the market. And we will continue building and buying companies and technologies that help our publishers succeed.

We are confident the expertise and experience of our team, plus our investments and resources to help our publishers make the most money, build their businesses, and thrive for the long term, cannot be matched. This is why hundreds of publishers switch to CafeMedia/AdThrive every year and see a 75% average RPM lift versus other ad providers with the same or fewer ads.

So, what’s next?

Below is a snapshot of some of the topics we will cover in the coming weeks and months. 

The Future of Advertising 
By: Paul Bannister, Chief Strategy Officer
Third-party cookies, the foundation of digital advertising targeting, are going away in 2023. So what’s happening with advertising today and in the future that affects the bottom line? Where are advertisers looking for solutions? There isn’t anyone more plugged into industry happenings than Paul Bannister. Paul will discuss the current landscape and our comprehensive strategy to ensure our publishers thrive in a cookieless world.

How our direct sales team connects the biggest brands with our world-class publishers
By: Rachel Parkin, Executive Vice President, Sales
As the leader of the largest sales team representing independent publishers, Rachel will dive into how her team works with brands to ensure publishers take home the most dollars for every impression. She’ll also tackle why a larger sales team adds exponential value to publishers through higher-paying direct deals–which are of increasing importance in the context of the larger ad industry shifts.

Why do the best demand partners work with us?
By: Shobha Doshi, Senior Vice President, Programmatic Strategy and Operations 
CafeMedia/AdThrive has a wide range of exclusive, high-value partnerships. Why? The short answer is our vast network of publishers who produce high-quality content. Shobha will share more about our demand partners and how each delivers incremental revenue to our publishers.

What does Ad Code have to do with it? 
By: Evan Simeone, Chief Product Officer
Our world-class product and engineering teams are constantly testing and optimizing our ad code to ensure our publishers’ RPMs grow year-over-year–even amid a challenging ad environment. Evan will discuss how just one of our proprietary machine learning projects is now delivering a unique RPM lift, and offer a peek at the team’s extensive testing protocol showing a nearly double-digit RPM lift from ad code changes made this year alone.

Stay tuned for more to come.