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Digital Publishers Pivot to Peril: A Special Report

Digital Publishers Pivot Peril: Special Report
Cheyne Gateley/VIP

“Pivot to video” was the catchphrase that came to define that woeful period several years ago when too many digital publishers thought they could churn out multimedia as a magnet for ad revenue, only to find out the hard way it wasn’t quite that easy.

Flash-forward to 2020, and “pivot to peril” feels like a more apt description of the state of affairs. Thousands of jobs have disappeared. VC money has all but dried up. Advertisers are having second thoughts about the entire sector.

In this report, Variety Intelligence Platform delves into a media-business category that is at a crossroads, facing difficult times that, as we explain, were getting difficult before COVID-19 struck. Now the challenge they confront is even more profound.

With COVID-19, advertisers are cutting way back across the board, leaving digital publishers out in the cold along with a lot of other content companies to varying extents. With the ad business depressed, the need to diversify revenue streams has only become more urgent.

Not long ago, the optimism, if not downright exuberance, surrounding digital media and advertising was palpable. It wasn’t hard to feel like the industry was on the cusp of a revolution. Native publishers had cracked the code on catering to millennials and younger audiences, using a combination of powerful tech and data science, and they were showing traditional media the way.

The sad truth about the doldrums digital publishing finds itself in today is that 2020 started to look like the year the sector was going to right itself after previous years of pain and struggle. Read on below to figure out the road forward for these companies. 

Read on to learn about:


Cautionary tales from the world of venture capital, and how financing schemes backfired for high-profile start-ups


A timeline tracing the fraught relationship between digital publishers and Facebook in a business where platforms have all the power


Examples drawn from the strategic misfires of branded content studios in the context of digital advertising