Photo by timJ on Unsplash

Are we witnessing a renaissance in media owners’ data and audience strategies?

It feels like yesterday when many media brands believed having a data strategy meant sprinkling their inventory with ambiguously-sourced third-party data. That data often provided the ecosystem with little quality and individual publishers with no differentiation whatsoever.

But, following privacy regulations around the world like the EU’s GDPR and the unraveling of online identifiers, forced media owners, not without hesitations and delays, to rethink these initiatives.

The first-party data renaissance

Today there is a new phase of data ownership within media companies, as third-party data goes extinct, and…

Photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash

Fixing your own strategy and business model when the industry is a whirlwind of moving parts takes time, courage, vision and above all the ability to recognize the risks associated with easy fixes.

I’ve described before how short-term choices left media owners vulnerable to frequent emergencies, which triggered more short-term decisions, which caused further emergencies. This vicious cycle slowed publishers down, cost them revenue and affected their ability to think and act strategically.

But in the last couple of years, quality publishers have matured, developing confidence in their value and a will to protect their own assets.

Meanwhile, the advertising…

Photo by Jenna Day on Unsplash

I recently had the opportunity to dive deeply into how media owners approach the diversification and the coexistence of business models built on audience, data and monetization strategies.

It was a privileged observation point, where I engaged with a group of medium-size publishers at the early stages of diversifying their business models. The background of it was a program run by FT Strategies, the consulting arm of The Financial Times, which has built a very successful subscription strategy.

Watching the media owners enthusiastically learn about the Financial Times’ subscription strategy and listening to their everyday challenges reinforced my conviction that…

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Digital advertising is becoming subtly and silently polarized. Not in the angry, conflicted way currently witnessed in politics, but a bifurcation in the road ahead is clearly taking shape.

On one side is a group with a worldview that identifies the ad slot ­- rather than the content — as the end product that should be monetized. From an audience perspective, they take a “hunting for identity and addressability” approach that views the user as a means to an end, rather than what should be the dominant focus. …

Photo by Kendall Ruth on Unsplash

From the consumer’s point of view, advertising hasn’t evolved.

Digital ads mimic print’s design as simply a space on a page. And video ads take the old TV approach of interrupting content.

The promise of rich media and creativity in the early aughts never materialized, as digital advertising embraced the big, programmatic factory belt that suffocated creative flow.

From 2008 onwards, the industry prioritized reach vs. quality and dumbed down ad format specs in order to guarantee the widest adoption. Ad impressions sold by the truckload at decreasing costs, which increased available ad slots, further degrading the user experience.


Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Remember all the times that media owners complained about how the majority of advertisers’ budgets end up in the pockets of Google and Facebook?

Today a growing number of global and local advertisers are joining the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign, boycotting Facebook and other social media networks and demanding stricter hate speech policies.

One would think that media owners would feel vindicated and use the controversy to articulate why those budgets would be more wisely spent on quality media. …

Photo by RhondaK Native Florida Folk Artist on Unsplash

I have always considered a programmatic monoculture to be one of the biggest threats to digital advertising.

A lack of diversity in experience, backgrounds and perspectives has hindered healthy development and balance in the sector. Now, the debate that will shape the future without third-party cookies is expanding beyond the usual boundaries and focusing on wider web standards. It is vital that the right mix of voices and perspectives representing all the needs and challenges of the digital advertising sector get a seat at the negotiating table and avoid partisan lobbying and hidden-but-not-so-hidden agendas.

Media owners, consumer brands, agencies and…

The death of the cookie — the revolution we face in the digital ad industry is not “just” about the rethinking of some technical processes.

This is a much more complex process that will redefine web standards, affect the practical ways advertisers will market their products and impact the survival rate of premium media owners and their quality advertising environments. It will also challenge the way people will be able to exercise their right to own and manage their personal data.

As a consequence, it will determine how strongly and boldly news media will keep contributing to our societies and democracies in the next decade — something that is tightly linked to their financial sustainability.

Read the whole article at

Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash

The advertiser-funded Programmatic Supply Chain Transparency Study by the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) triggers a feeling of déjà vu.

The report found that publishers receive an average of 51% of advertiser spend, while 15% of advertiser spend — representing around one-third of supply chain costs — “could not be attributed.”

This is a best-case scenario, with top advertisers and premium media owners involved, which leaves little to the imagination of what a nonpremium scenario might look like.

A split reaction

The report split the industry into different groups with varied and sometimes polarized opinions. Some claimed that once…

Photo by Vienna Reyes on Unsplash

Sports federations, leagues, clubs and athletes are fighting for their future. In a matter of weeks live sport evaporated due to COVID-19, with some events postponed and others officially concluded long before their planned end dates.

In Europe, where the pandemic arrived earlier than the United States, live sports video streaming dropped 91% by the last week of March, according to Conviva.

The absence of live games and active competitions has removed “the product” from sport fans’ lives. However, if from a monetization standpoint sport is a product, for its audiences it is definitely much more than that.

The advantage…

Alessandro De Zanche

Media and advertising. Data, audience and monetisation strategies.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store