Digital Advertising in 2024: Key Trends and Challenges

Though Planet Sport managed to post record ad growth, regulatory changes and market fluctuations left many publishers with many headaches in 2023.  

We sat down with our Chief Commercial Officer, George Odysseos to get his thoughts on what 2024's digital ad and adtech market is going to look like.

Planet Sport has enjoyed impressive ad revenue growth in 2023. What has your team implemented or created that has helped deliver this growth? 

As the team responsible for the advertising on the sites, we take the issue of user experience very seriously. We need ad revenue to fund the content, but there is always an optimum balance that needs to be found. 

More ads certainly don’t mean more revenue so we focussed on improved ad quality, viewability and attention time. The result was higher yields and revenue, but most importantly a better user experience. 

Tell us about something you most enjoyed being involved with in 2023. 

I am strong believer in collaboration amongst publishers. It always helps to work together to share insights and address many of the issues we face. The Independent Publisher Alliance is a great example of this in action.

It’s an organisation serving the needs of small to mid-tier publishers, whose voice is often ignored by the larger trade organisations. In 2024 it’s looking to expand its remit and I’m looking forward to playing my part in collectively addressing the challenges we face. 

What is bugging you in the ad industry at the moment? 

In November 2023, the Information Commissioner (ICO) wrote to the Top 100 UK publishers on the issue of user data consent - the annoying pop-up where users can provide or limit use of their data to comply with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

Their message was that ‘Reject All’ needs to be given equal weighting to ‘Accept All’. In other words, they want to add “Reject All’ to the first layer of a Consent Management Platform (CMP). 

As an industry we have failed to explain to internet users the value exchange of their non- personally identifiable information (PII) data and how it's used to fuel the advertising that funds the creation of content. Consequently, users are all too happily to deny consent or install ad blockers. 

The move to add ‘Reject All’ will bring down consent rates to levels that may render many publishers incapable of producing quality content. In my opinion without quality content you don’t have a functioning internet. 

Therefore, I foresee many UK publishers looking at ‘Consent or Subscribe’ models. These have been prevalent in Germany for a while and are GDPR compliant if executed correctly. 

News of a cookieless future has been gripping the advertising industry for some time. Do you see this finally coming to pass in 2024? 

It’s often ignored that at least 30-40% of ad impressions don’t have 3rd party cookies attached to them, notably users of the Safari browser on iPhones. Subsequently, a more valuable user was essentially either ignored or under-valued by advertisers due to the inability to measure, target and attribute. 

Starting in January 2024, Chrome, the largest browser with 3rd party cookies enabled will start to eradicate them with a view to full elimination by the end of Q3 2024. 

Six months ago, I was a lot more worried about the impact this would have on revenues, but I have seen some great initiatives to make more of the ad impressions without cookies addressable for advertisers. If attribution methods evolve along with this targeting enhancements, then I believe we will see a privacy compliant yet effective ad ecosystem by the end of the year.

What aspects of marketing and advertising are likely to see fresh approaches or innovation down the line as a result? 

Attribution of a sale is an area that desperately needs improving. All too often advertisers are using simplistic methods to measure campaign effectiveness. It’s fair to say that in 24 years in this industry this is one area that has developed the least, but given its importance, this is a real issue. 

With the impending eradication of 3rd party cookies, change will come, and I am hoping for more equitable attribution to reflect the value of different advertising mediums in the conversion process.

You've previously said that in the world of adtech that “less will be more”. What do you mean? 

Many people forget that as an industry we are not even 30 years old, and in that period, we have seen rapid growth to the point that online ad spend is now the largest segment of overall advertising spend.  

That growth has spawned many businesses, so there is now an over-complicated and bloated ‘adtech middle’ - the parties that sit between an advertiser and a publisher. For those businesses not providing sufficient differentiation, I see an uncertain future as the market looks to consolidate. 

As a publisher, we hope this reduces the ‘adtech tax’ where we see as much as 65% of every advertising pound lost to intermediaries, and fingers-crossed it will generate adequate recompense for publishers. 

Tell us about what your team at Planet Sport has got planned for 2024?

In 2023 we placed a lot of emphasis on creating innovative solutions for advertisers to engage our users, so in 2024 we are looking to continue that momentum and work with more Tier 1 advertisers. 

In addition, we feel that the ad monetisation platform that we have built is as good as any in the market. We are now taking that out to market for publishers to join our network and benefit from the same ad technology and optimisations that we apply to our own sites. 

We engendered some fantastic growth in 2023, so continuing to add scale to our advertiser solutions is going to be exciting for all concerned.

Thank you George. 


Planet Sport specialises in both driving ad revenue and providing brand activation for our partners. Get in touch to discuss advertising across our network of 22 million monthly users or to drive monetisation on your own titles.