Industry Leaders Reflect on 2018, Offer Predictions for 2019

January 14, 2019

Executives from MPA, NMA, Connectiv, DAAC, MMA and more share their thoughts on what lies ahead for media.

Kammi Altig, Communications Manager


At the end of each year, we invite some of our colleagues from around the media industry to reflect on the past year and offer insight into the year ahead. This year, we talked to:


Accomplishments and Surprises in 2018

When asked about accomplishments in 2018, many of our respondents talked about their advocacy work to further bolster the value of quality media in the eyes of readers and marketers.

“In 2018, the media industry came together to stand up for itself—and won,” said Chavern. “In a landscape that is increasingly digitally focused and with literally countless sources for information at users’ fingertips, news publishers have had to fight—hard—just for the right to exist. But we have shown that our ability to effectively advocate on our own collective behalf should not be discounted.”

Marchesano said that 2018 was a year of audience recognition, “In 2018, the broader media industry caught up to what B2B media and information companies have recognized for years now: the potential of the audience-driven future. Audience is our most valuable asset.”

Thomas Brooks said she hopes the past year has differentiated the level of audience quality media outlets deliver. “Not all content is created equal. And not all audiences—or the numbers that purport to represent audiences—are created equal. Measurement matters. Third-party, audited, verifiable measurement matters even more.”

Many organizations on our list warned about concerns of consumer privacy and protection.

“The regulators are watching,” said Ford. “There was a lot of movement in the privacy space in 2018, especially with the ripple effects of the GDPR and prominent data breaches making headlines. The regulators in Canada and worldwide have an important role to play, and they are paying attention to the digital ad industry right now.”

Scullin said given the issues that arose in 2018, we should expect broader government intervention in the coming year. “There was a wake-up call on consumer privacy: GDPR, California laws and the mishandling of data, especially by the largest advertising platforms and the technology-enablers. The breaches, from Facebook to Marriott, all underscore this problem, and we can now expect government regulation.”

Silva agreed the problems with privacy were a surprise development in 2018 but also noted the pace of change and development in technologies as a more welcome change.

Thomas Brooks reflected on 2018 by noting an area of growth. “I was pleasantly surprised by the number of D-to-C brands that created their own magazines over the past year. These companies know that their continued business growth depends on reaching broad audiences in highly engaging ways that educate, inspire and entertain.”


Media Industry Influencers

We also asked the respondents to identify people or companies who had a large influence on the media industry in the past year. Last year, many respondents identified P&G’s Marc Pritchard. Here’s who they thought made waves this year.

“Advertisers, directly or through their associations, have continued being much more vocal than in the recent past,” said Silva. “Many have walked the talk.”

Ford offered, “ is such an interesting company to watch. Kathryn Hume is a fantastic speaker and their newsletter is insightful. Ratko Vidakovic’s weekly newsletter, AdProfs’ “This week in ad tech,” is also a can’t-miss.”

Thomas Brooks said, “Individually and collectively, magazine editors are the original influencers. They regularly produce the most compelling content that is professionally researched, written, edited and curated. In a media ecosystem that is getting more and more crowded every day, magazine editors create and sustain their brands, which have become a ‘shortcut to quality’ for consumers and marketers.”

And Scullin went outside the traditional media industry to someone who has been expanding his focus. “Jeff Bezos. For making unmistakable inroads, almost stealth-like, into all corners of our minds, lives and the advertising business.”


What’s in Store for 2019?

When asked to make predictions for trends in 2019, we saw common themes of consumer privacy and regulations, quality content and promoting audiences.

“GDPR has caused many countries around the world to revisit their own laws regarding data and privacy protection,” explained Lackey. “After 20 years of observing corporations use personal data with no restrictions, law makers have realized how far they have let the fox into the hen house. Regulations are now urgently required to protect individuals from real harm. 2019 will see much stronger data protection laws with real enforcement teeth.”

He offered a specific example of how companies in the U.S. may be impacted by a state law. “The California Consumer Protection Act 2018 or CaCPA is scheduled to come into force on January 1, 2020. There is much work to be done as this law is tough on those who share or sell personal data as part of their business model. You should see a lot more media attention as 2019 rolls out and people begin realizing what this law is all about.”

Silva agreed. “Privacy issues have been addressed in some places and started to spread globally during 2018. I believe ad fraud will also be addressed locally first and eventually spread. Currently the level of awareness of these problems are not at the same level of the damage they cause.”

Scullin expanded beyond privacy to relationships with the consumer. “The future of the consumer and how we protect them and our sacrosanct relationships with them. The MMA will be focusing on the future of brand safety, the future of location intelligence and the future of mobile ad fraud.”

Thomas Brooks shared a similar opinion. “We must continue to focus on brand safety and trusted content. Quality, trusted, credible journalism matters—to marketers, consumers and the world at large. I don’t want to live in a society where all media is crowd sourced. I want real expertise backed by research and facts.”

Marchesano predicted that companies will continue to use analytics to understand audiences. “Companies in 2019 will be increasingly focused on taking customers from ‘unknown’ to ‘known’ and leveraging predictive analytics to anticipate what customers will want and how they will behave. The real value there isn’t just about upselling across the product portfolio but also recognizing when a customer may be at risk and being able to address that effectively before it’s too late.”

He continued, “The other strategic trend that will become increasingly prominent in 2019 is information companies shifting from being a resource for the customer to actually becoming part of the customer’s workflow through technology and tools. The industry is moving away from transactional relationships to recurring, subscription-driven relationships and providing workflow tools in addition to content and services is one of the most effective ways to accomplish that.

Chavern said the news media industry needs to continue to be its own best advocate. “In my view, in the last several years, we haven’t stood up for ourselves enough to advocate for even the most basic rights of fair treatment and to protect the continued existence of high-quality journalism which, with the increased attacks on the media, is more important now than ever. But that began to change this year, and you can count on the industry standing up for itself more in 2019."

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