Posted on November 7, 2019

Is there a place in the market right now for mid-tier publishers?

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Dispatches from AdMonsters Publisher Forum Scottsdale.

The first morning at AdMonsters Publishers Forum, Scottsdale was hardly an average Monday-in-November slog.

For one thing, half of the audience and speakers were walking around with stunned grins. These attendees, in from the Midwest or East Coast, were exhilarated by the Arizona warmth and brightness.

And even inside, where sunshine is replaced by stage lights, the mood was alert. All eyes were on the packed Chairman’s Corner, where Jim Egan, VP Publisher Development Integral Ad Science talked with AdMonsters Chairman Rob Beeler on “Shifting From Brand Safety to Brand Sustainability.”

In a conversation that addressed the issue of how publishers can avoid being left out in the cold, Egan touched on current events—including the recent trend in publisher consolidation.

“A lot of what we would consider mid-tier publishers are shacking up: Vox Media and New York Media and Vice Media and Refinery 29,” he said. “And that really makes me wonder: is there a place in the market right now for mid-tier publishers? Or is it going to be all big guys and all small guys?”

Rob Beeler weighed in, mentioning what he referred to as the recent “Deadspin tweetstorms.”

One tweet that stuck out to him was suggested that all the former Deadspin editors should “go and start their own sports website.” It’s an idealistic notion, says Beeler, but fails to grapple with the fact that “starting a website at zero, with zero brand around it and going up to where it was? That doesn’t exist right now.”

It’s an ever-changing landscape, and the discussion addressed the fact that the divide between advertisers and publishers is widening, especially in a climate where blocking has become more prevalent. One of the most important issues, agreed Beeler and Egan, is sustainability.

AAX joined the discussion at the following day’s “Question the Tech” Q & A session, where we also addressed questions of sustainability in publishing and readership alike, touching on how certain users are beginning to understand what’s needed to ensure that their favorite publisher continues to exist and thrive.

Check out the full Q & A below.