In 2022 the media industry saw bright spots such as increases in digital subscriptions and digital advertising, and challenges like rising inflation and reduced resources. As we begin the new year, we asked leaders from media and marketing industry associations to share their thoughts about the past year and what the industry should look forward to in 2023.
Here is who we interviewed:
- Sonia Carreno, President, Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada
- Nicole Divinagracia, Executive Director, Point of Care Marketing Association (POCMA)
- Rebecca Frank, Vice President, Research & Insights, News/Media Alliance (NMA)
- Shannon Lewis, President, Canadian Media Directors' Council (CMDC)
- Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director, Digital Content Next (DCN)
- Beth Potter, Ph.D., U.S. Regional Manager, Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI)
- Simon Redlich, President, International Federation of Audit Bureaux of Certification (IFABC) and Chief Executive, ABC UK
- Fran Wills, CEO, Local Media Consortium (LMC)
Industry Lessons Learned in 2022
Sonia Carreno, IAB Canada, on the effects of remote and hybrid work
The importance of mentorship and culture would top my list of lessons learned in 2022. As the industry began to recover from a forced remote workplace, reports of talent challenges began to emerge. In a dynamic industry like ours, it is not unusual to see turnover. However, we have never seen this amount of churn when training and recruitment were relegated entirely to remote channels.
Adding to the training challenges were the longer-term impacts of remote team management and its effect on culture and cohesion. Leaders must learn to develop a hybrid culture that provides equal opportunity to network and learn from different locations. This requires new policies, communication strategies and team culture-building approaches, all while managing the day-to-day business in a competitive environment.
While we may have always paid lip service to how critical people are in the advertising sector, this year, the industry learned it.
Nicole Divinagracia, POCMA, on the impressive reach of point of care marketing
One lesson the industry learned this year is that point of care partners provide meaningful reach for brands. In an industry first, the complete reach of point of care was determined in an analysis by MedFuse, a healthcare data technology company. The findings demonstrate that healthcare providers with POC marketing have more patients and write more prescriptions. (See the study here.)
Michelle Manafy, DCN, on the risks of relying too heavily on third-party platforms
I hoped the industry had already learned this lesson, but some of what I’m seeing reminds me that there is no reliable third-party platform. Each emerging platform that attracts significant users offers the opportunity to reach new audiences. However, it is critical to diversify platforms to avoid unnecessary risk when one changes its policies in a way that can negatively impact a media brand. The pro tip is to use third-party platforms to drive audiences to your own properties and use every opportunity to convert transient social users into devoted audiences.
Simon Redlich, IFABC, on maintaining trust
The fragile nature of trust. Hard won but easily lost. Not a new lesson but something we’ve been reminded about on a regular basis in 2022.
Fran Wills, LMC, on the importance of first-party data
Acquiring and managing first party data is essential for local media to build a successful online business, particularly with imminent cookie deprecation and consumer privacy regulation. Publishers and broadcasters made great strides in nurturing customer relationships and increasing engagement with local audiences, which are vital to both consumer and advertising monetization.
The Industry’s Greatest Achievement in 2022
Nicole Divinagracia, POCMA, on educating the market on point of care
The greatest achievement for our industry was the development of the Point of Care Academy, an educational resource that covers all aspects of the point of care channel. Education on what point of care is and the value it can deliver for brands is critical to its growth. Content for the Academy was curated by industry experts, backed by decades of combined experience, and short educational videos were then developed on dedicated topics.
Simon Redlich, IFABC, on recognizing the amazing work of war correspondents
The war in Ukraine highlighted the incredible job journalists do in conflict zones around the world. There’s a long history of reporting from conflict zones and other dangerous places, with journalists often doing so at great personal risk despite their employer’s best efforts to manage those risks. We should never take this for granted.
Fran Wills, LMC, on the success of new digital programs
Local media’s biggest achievement in 2022 was creating new digital opportunities through collaboration and leveraging scale. Working together to address industry challenges, grow audiences, optimize revenue, create content and build innovative new digital programs have contributed to healthier online businesses for local media.
The LMC helped build programs like the NewsPassID local media ad network to address cookie deprecation and increase programmatic share; The Branded Content Project to increase local ad revenue; and Digital On Demand Services (DODS) to reduce costs on digital services and development resources.
Words to Guide Business in 2023
Sonia Carreno, IAB Canada, on creating a sustainable future
Sustainability is the word I would choose to describe the 2023 North Star for IAB Canada members. While the immediate definition of the term is tied to the industry’s efforts around achieving net zero carbon advertising, the broader meaning touches on much more.
All stakeholders in the digital advertising ecosystem could benefit from making decisions that contribute to their ability to create a sustainable future. Success is no longer defined exclusively through financial benchmarks. In today’s media landscape, we should partner with organizations that have made commitments towards transparency, environmental impact, diversity and inclusion as well as the ethical use of data and advanced self-regulatory practices.
Simon Redlich, IFABC, on the benefits of equity
Equity is a word I’ve heard quite a lot recently and one I really like. There are various definitions but examples such as “freedom from bias or favouritism” and “the quality of being impartial or reasonable; fairness” strike a chord with me. These are qualities we can apply broadly or to specific actions, and for IFABC members, form an integral part of what we do.
Fran Wills, LMC, on adapting and innovating
With continued market volatility and changing consumer preferences, businesses will need to adapt and innovate. Gathering customer feedback and having a more iterative approach to their business models will help local media better navigate potential disruptions.
Looking Ahead to 2023
Sonia Carreno, IAB Canada, on growing options and setting standards
Marketers have a lot to look forward to in the new year. I’m particularly excited about the number of choices advertisers will have to reach their audiences as well as the standards being built to remove friction and make way for scaled investments.
Like the early days of online advertising, our industry is experiencing an innovation spurt. A rush for identity solutions, AI technologies, ad formats and methods to collect and store data is underway. It’s an exciting time for the sector, but it is also causing confusion in the marketplace. As these solutions pop-up in our borderless industry, the variances and respective competitive advantages introduce a new set of walled gardens. The industry will be looking for interoperability as a priority and the only way to achieve this is through the development of standards.
In a climate where regulators are scrutinizing everything from fair competitive marketplaces to rules around data transfers and privacy, the industry must come together to develop acceptable frameworks that can be defended internationally as foundational systems from which codes of practice and scalability can be built.
Rebecca Frank, NMA, on focusing on Gen Z
In 2023 and beyond, publishers should seriously focus on understanding and meeting the needs of Gen Z. This group had $143 billion in buying power in 2019, representing 40% of global consumers. And while they are constantly consuming news and information online and via their mobile devices, they are not turning to traditional news sources in the same way as previous cohorts. However, in NMA research, 33% said they were highly likely to pay for a local news source. They are passionate about social issues, they are seeking credible, accurate, and unbiased news, and they want to see their story told in the news they consume. The media industry should invest in further understanding and reaching this group to build a relationship that can grow and evolve over time.
Shannon Lewis, CMDC, on Canadian digital media investment
The number one theme this year is change — from escalating inflation hitting a four-decade high to Elon Musk assuming command of Twitter overnight. With all this change swirling about, one thing is certain: 2023 will be a great reset.
The rise of misinformation demonstrates the need for high-quality, reliable information and content that is vital for our country. Audiences are asking for news sources they can trust. All the while, advertisers are asking for quality media environments that connect their brands to Canadians. With all parties contributing, we can make a difference in supporting a healthy, balanced media.
This is why we at the CMDC rally behind the Canadian Media Manifesto. The CMM’s goal is to increase the Canadian share of digital media investment to 25%. Interestingly, this represents an additional investment of approximately $350M, only slightly above what Bill C-18 will require digital news intermediaries to pay news businesses for sharing their content. This underscores that the Canadian Media Manifesto can make a tangible and crucial difference to Canadian media.
Beth Potter, JTI, on spotlighting quality journalism
Newsrooms, advertisers and audiences are weary of misinformation, disinformation and hate speech on social media platforms as well as the more than 1,200 “pink slime” websites in the United States that now pump out propaganda online. Because of this, we predict that standards practiced by true journalists (and celebrated by the Journalism Trust Initiative’s ISO-standard “seal”) will quickly gain momentum in 2023. We believe that the nonprofit Journalism Trust Initiative will become a household name in the news industry with its spotlight on quality journalism.