Declining Digital Ad Spend Prompts Publishers to Pursue Alternatives
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Declining Digital Ad Spend Prompts Publishers to Pursue Alternatives

John Williams
John Williams

The digital advertising industry is, like many others, struggling to navigate worsening economic waters. Whether caused by creeping inflation, supply chain issues, fears relating to interest rates or all of the above, the sector’s mood music is at best ominous. Amid shrinking ad budgets and deteriorating consumer confidence, it’s unsurprising that many businesses and publishers are taking stock and considering a new way of doing business.

Recent comments by the CEO of Snap, parent company of social media platform Snapchat, highlighted the difficulties faced by publishers who rely on digital ad spend. Evan Spiegel’s sentiments that “the macro environment has deteriorated further and faster than we anticipated” have clearly spooked investors, with social media shares quickly tumbling in the aftermath.

Assuming Spiegel’s gloomy prognosis holds true, what alternatives might help to shore up the lost revenue?

Gather Online: A New Monetization Model

Web3 platform Gather believes it has a solution. Earlier this year, the blockchain-based venture launched Gather Online, a digital monetization tool geared towards publishers and businesses keen to offer an ad-free browsing experience without losing money.

Ostensibly, Gather Online aggregates internet users’ idle processing power – with their permission – and distributes it to enterprises for cloud computing, as well as to developers for the purpose of cryptocurrency mining. As a result, website owners are able to generate revenue that would otherwise come from advertisers; site visitors get to have a more enjoyable browsing experience; and businesses and developers gain access to affordable, reliable processing power.

As the protocol’s hardware layer, Gather Online is just one part of the venture’s vast ecosystem, which is rounded out by both a protocol layer (Gather Network) and an application layer (Gather Cloud).

Gather’s innovative data monetization model means that income is derived according to the number of visitors to a website, and how much time they spend there, rather than the number of ads displayed. Visitors can also be rewarded through a loyalty program, incentivizing browsers to spend more time interacting with a website or application.

Soon after launching, Gather onboarded popular MENA-based video on demand platform Shoof Max, bringing its 9 million viewers into the ambit of Gather Online. Unlike YouTube, Shoof Max doesn’t wish to pester users with a constant barrage of irrelevant ads; instead, their implementation of Gather Online will ensure a smooth UX while distributing users’ idle processing power to enterprises and devs.

Gather CEO Reggie Jerath heralded the deal and reasserted the company’s commitment to “eliminating the unwanted dependency to online ad revenues for websites and applications all over the world.” Shoof Max General Manager Bashar Douba, meanwhile, heralded the “tremendous potential” of Gather as it seeks to “explore the full spectrum of the platform’s capabilities in optimizing and driving value from our users’ viewing experience.”

Bookstr is another digital media company that has turned to Gather since the launch of its monetization tool. The New York-based firm, which provides editorial and creative content for the book-loving community, is integrating Gather Online to reward users for the time spent on their website and open up a revenue stream that is not dependent on squeezed ad budgets.

While it is difficult to predict the trends that will define the digital advertising space in two years, let alone five or ten, Gather’s proposition is clearly resonating with those who have become disillusioned with the existing monetization model. Shoof Max and Bookstr are two of over 1000 clients using Gather Online at the time of writing.

Tapping into end users’ processing power with their express permission, as a trade-off for serving up an ad-free browsing experience, is a bold idea but one that represents a unique financial solution amid an increasingly cheerless economic picture.