Ovum's ICT Enterprise Insights 2018/19 survey highlights that for more than one-third (34%) of publishers, the top three business priorities in the next 18 months are improving data management to speed up time to market, enabling robust measurement of multi-platform user engagement, and improving user interface (UI) performance for higher average revenue per advertiser (ARPA). Although traditional publishing companies such as newspapers, periodicals, and book publishers have been early movers in the digital media space, they have faced steep competition from digital-born enterprises, resulting in unprecedented losses in advertising revenues in the past five to six years. Competing with digital-born enterprises requires not only investment in multifaceted content repositories, but also faster, scalable, and personalized UI, to safeguard profitability. Akamai's purchase of SOASTA in April 2017 strengthened its UI optimization, testing, monitoring, and predictive analytics capabilities across multiple digital formats including mobile, web, and APIs. Ovum believes that its recently unveiled roadmap for its digital performance platform, Edge, encompassing mPulse, Ion, Image Manager, and CloudTest, will help publishers develop engaging, future-ready digital UI in real time.
Historically, most publishers have built their digital properties – e-newspapers, e-periodicals, and e-books – as sister concerns to their legacy core print activities. As digital and mobile platforms become the main ways to consume media worldwide, these traditional media companies have been pushed to re-engineer their digital properties to meet changing audience needs, for example with zero tolerance of lead times and tailored, multi-dimensional, one-stop engagement. Furthermore, in today's competitive online publishing landscape, the fast performance of digital properties is crucial, not only to lower user churn, but also to prevent advertising revenue leakage. Therefore, it is vital that publishers continuously monitor the performance of their digital properties and value its impact on both advertising and subscription revenues.
Akamai's highly horizontally integrated digital performance portfolio competencies include the following:
Audience-behavior-focused optimization by balancing UI and performance across multifaceted digital formats such as web, mobile, and APIs, and automated workflows embedded with artificial intelligence (AI), improving engagement rates.
Multiformat media asset optimization (e.g. of images and short-form videos) without compromising the user experience (UX). This enables publishers to lower their total cost of ownership (TCO) in the long run.
An end-to-end, automated, scalable user lifecycle testing ecosystem, including peak load testing. This helps safeguard ARPA and reduce competitive risk.
Managed real-time monitoring of the performance of multiple digital properties, such as average page load or bounce rate across local and regional geographies and diverse screens. This also includes predictive-analytics-driven optimization of the "most critical" digital property, and UI assets to deliver contextual UX for each user, anywhere and everywhere.
The aggregation and synthesis of digital properties' performance issues, correlated with potential revenue losses or tangible leakages.
As publishers steadily increase their investment in third-party content to strengthen their market positioning in the highly fragmented digital media landscape, Akamai's differentiated Edge performance portfolio, especially with mPulse, Ion, and Image Manager, is well positioned to reduce their crucial UI pain points. A good example is Telegraph Media, which aggressively reduced its web and mobile page load times by 10% and 34%, respectively, resulting in higher ARPA. As the increase in digital users and the proliferation of screens on which to consume media continues, traditional media companies such as publishers need to re-engineer their digital properties to create new recurring revenue streams and reduce their dependence on core business models.
Kedar Mohite, Principal Consultant, Media & Broadcast Technology