This article, from Ad week, interviews 10 executives from within our industry posing the question ‘what’s next for the media industry [in 2020]’. After reading through their predictions, I thought, “what better way to kick off 2020’s first blog than than with my commentary on the themes laid out in the article and ultimately what they mean for us at Denver Post Media.”  

The executives almost all overwhelmingly believe we will see the reinvigoration of branding as a key KPI for most marketing strategies this year. As Pam Drucker (CRO/President, Conde Nast) put it, ‘Over the past few years, CMOs have sacrificed long-term brand building for short-term wins in a race to the bottom… [The] hyper-focus on ROI has led to overinvestment in digital and performance marketing as a substitute for brand building. While measurement will always be important, the pendulum is now swinging back to a focus on building connections with consumers’. While Drucker’s simplification of the past few years emphasizes the extremes associated with the Ad-tech boom (and undervalues the importance of ROI/ROAS focused campaigns), I think her point holds weight in summarizing how advertisers moved to ROI/ROAS focused campaigns for the sake of leveraging the new tech and ultimately (and possibly unintentionally) foregoing branding opportunities. 

As Druker’s outlook is from the POV of an advertiser/marketing strategist, a lot of the executives (coming from the publisher side) highlighted the importance of effectively connecting advertisers to audiences that are consuming content (media) on branded sites (like the Denver Post). While there are varying takes (in the article) on how publishers should produce and distribute content to not only increase the publication’s branding but also attract audiences that advertisers are hoping to connect with (Branded Storytelling vs OTT vs Interactive Mobile Experience vs Audio), I think Heather Dietrick (CEO, The Daily Beast) & Neil Vogel (CEO, DotDash) expressed the most straight forward outlook for each perspective: 

Dietrick: ‘If the 2010s [were] about social media disruption, which for publishers amounted to the dissolution of brand affinity in favor of the algorithms and the disruption of the relationship with the audience in favor of traffic growth, the 2020s will be about media owning its relationship with the audience, building brand devotion and leveraging loyalty.’

Vogel: ‘…whether it’s a print magazine, a broadcast network, a social network or online publisher, those who can deliver quality audiences with real intent to advertisers will win’

These perspectives are not new in the slightest – some may even say they are the foundation of advertising…advertise your brand to and where audiences are actively engaging. However, somewhere along the way, a lot of advertisers (and publishers) got distracted with the flashy new tech and convoluted verbiage that we saw an influx of campaigns simply not working cohesively to drive the correct results for their goals. This, in my opinion, is the reason we are seeing this regression of types with advertisers having to actively re-focus on branding when branding should have always been a KPI weaved into their ROI/ROAS campaigns as they are not mutually exclusive. 

With 2020 forecasting to be the year advertisers re-focus on branding, publishers re-evaluating their content strategies to reconnect with their audiences, and publishers and advertiser working together to connect the audiences to each respective advertiser…what does this landscape mean for the Denver Post? Luckily for us, it means opportunity. The Denver Post is primed to take advantage of these trends as we have the highest brand recognition amongst publications in Denver and already have a highly engaged and valuable audience available to connect to advertisers …it simply comes down to providing our advertisers with the correct solutions to produce the results they are striving for and hopefully melds the best of both worlds – branding and ROI/ROAS. If advertisers are looking to focus on their brand awareness is 2020, no problem we have an awesome content studio offering that leverages the existing Denver Post brand recognition and aligns the advertiser with their target audience through contextually relevant articles/series (what Dietrick implies when he says ‘leverage loyalty’). Are advertisers happy with their current ROI based campaign, but wants to expand their brand exposure? We have the solution it just depends on the vertical and how the additional branding tactic is implemented.

Regardless of which strategy you are moving towards in 2020, we welcome the opportunity to partner with you and develop an informed strategy based on your goals. Cheers to 2020, the year of the brand.