How a 'decision-first' user research approach delivered action, not just insights, for The Conversation

2023 economic uncertainties is remaking digital ads, and not always for the better

There are times when a theme seems to emerge from the random stories that are published in a day across the media industry, and today's theme is definitely advertising. Economic uncertainty always leads to a softening in advertising, and when it comes to digital advertising and the media that rely on it, this is causing ructions. Honestly, it's long overdue a pretty fundamental realignment in digital advertising, but as often happens, the first stage of a disruptive period is that incumbents will lean into their models even harder. That's why the New York Times has a story about a coming pandemic in junk ads, and the Press Gazette takes aim at Taboola and the news industry's co-dependent relationship with it. 

Before we get to that though, I have my usual collection of smart thinking about the industry. Peter Houston has a great piece for What's New in Publishing, about his wishlist for 2023. I especially like his call for publishers to focus on value and revenue diversification. The Audiencers look at how The Conversation has a 'decision-first' approach to user research. The thing that is attractive about this approach is that it is action-oriented. 

And in the next featured story of the day, we look at a Reuters Institute piece about an Italian digital news outlet the refocused away from investigations to opinion. It carved out a unique position, and it is focusing on digital but also print and events. It's an intersting case study about positioning and branding. 

Peter Houston offers up his very clear-headed analysis of the direction that he hopes publishing will take in 2023. His reference to Mix of Six, a rough guide to how many revenue streams a publishing business should have, speaks to the focus that successful publishers have on revenue diversification this year. 

How to make sure that your research results in action.  Consider the action that you want to take, and then design the research around that goal. 

This is a classic case study in positioning and branding as a response for how to compete in a crowded market. You have to be unique not only to stand out but also to be valuable and unique enough to audiences that they might to pay. If you want to reach a mass audience, be prepared to produce as much lowest common denominator content as possible. 

This a solid and simple guide to SEO with a number of steps you can take to improve the SEO of any site. Some of these are baseline tactics that you need to be successful while others are next-level things to do to make you stand out. 

Politico's strategy of moving up the value chain is by providing high-value research for lucrative verticals for lobbyists and policy shops willing to pay. It's expanding that overseas. 

The major shifts in the advertising market already in 2023

This speaks to concern about the large US digital advertising companies that the EU would brush aside antitrust-anticompetition concerns to allow major mobile phone companies across Europe to join together in a joint venture to take on GAFA - Google-Apple-Facebook and Amazon. 

The Press Gazette highlights how news publishers are using services like Taboola to net millions in ad revenue. The piece walks up to the line but doesn't answer the question of whether such services degreed the brands that use them. 

And that leads to the next item from the New York Times about whether we're seeing a junk ad epidemic. 

And even amongst the platforms, the ad landscape is shifting. Amazing is taking business from Facebook. 

And Elon is taking away business from Twitter, while obsessing about how many impressions his tweets get