The confluence of the Super Bowl, the Summer Olympics and U.S. presidential election, coupled with the growing focus on consumer-level data privacy, is turning 2024 into an epic year for brands and their marketing teams. CMOs for major brands will have to balance potential investments in media surrounding these events with challenges driven by the long-awaited deprecation of cookies in Google’s Chrome browser and new norms for data collection and ad targeting.

These changes would be plenty for marketers to grapple with, but they will also create daunting dynamics for the media industry, with some publishers potentially facing existential threats, Quad Media President Joshua Lowcock told an in-person and online audience at this year’s Adweek Outlook 2024 conference on Jan. 23 in a panel discussion titled “The New Media Metric.”

The changes will also require smart and selective choices about reaching audiences and to rethink traditional tools for measuring their effectiveness. This doesn’t bode well for what Lowcock called “long-tail” publishers, which need to continue to develop their non-advertising-based revenue models.

“Given everything that’s happening in the industry, from cookie deprecation to device ID deprecation to privacy regulation, long-tail publishers don’t have a long history left in them,” Lowcock said. “They’re destined to die…. the advertising ecosystem as it’s being rewritten just cannot sustain them.”

Adweek Outlook 2024 Panel

Photo provided by Adweek and Ivan Piedra Photography

Lowcock was joined on the panel by Gabriel Dorosz, Executive Director, Audience Strategy and Insights, New York Times Advertising and Ana Milicevic, Co-Founder and Principal, Sparrow Advisors. The panel was moderated by Adweek Senior Media Reporter Mark Stenberg. 

Given the privacy-related shifts, Stenberg asked the panel where they thought brands were over- or under-spending in their marketing efforts.  

In line with his earlier comments, Lowcock said he felt the trend was toward overspending on display advertising. At the same time, he said marketers need to pay more attention to email marketing — in particular, opportunities surrounding newsletters, which can help satisfy the need for metrics on identity, viewability, attention and reach. For a consumer, he said, an email newsletter is “a moment” that stands out: “It’s an appointment. It’s guaranteed delivery.” 

Lowcock’s fellow panelists noted that the year’s string of major events will put pressure on brands, marketers and publishers. Dorosz spoke of staying mindful that the year will bring both predictable and unpredictable events. 

“What we do know is, in those moments, audiences are going to come to us,” Dorosz said. “They’re going to want to understand what’s happening and want to get a deeper sense of what the perspectives are and think about how to make their own decisions.” 

The demise of the cookie requires a changed dialogue between advertisers and publishers, Milicevic said. “Now your sellers need to be able to have intelligent conversations that are not just ‘Here’s our rate card,’” she said. “It’s more ‘OK, so you want to sell more cars in Wisconsin. Here’s how we can help you do that.’”  

Adweek Outlook 2024 gathered about 30 speakers from across the marketing, advertising and media industries in New York to discuss issues for the year ahead.  

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