Marketing Books with Digital Advertising in 2023: What’s Working, What’s Not & How to Find Success

May 26, 2023
Brian McKinley
Kim Schutte
Marketing Books with Digital Advertising in 2023: What’s Working, What’s Not & How to Find Success

Welcome to the jungle. 

It’s a jungle out there, and marketers are feeling it. According to a Hubspot Survey, nearly 80% of marketers agree that marketing has changed more in the past three years than in the past 50. Consumers are bombarded by ads everywhere they go, online or not.

In response, there has been an increase in “walled gardens” in the name of privacy, not to mention new regulatory issues, privacy rules, lawsuits, cookie tracking, and consent requirements. 

Targeting can become increasingly uncertain in the wake of many of these changes. As this technology continues to evolve in real-time, macroeconomic and political forces change as well.

Digital Advertising: Big and Getting Bigger

Digital advertising is only growing worldwide. Consumers are spending more time online, and advertisers want to reach them. New ad platforms and services are launching consistently, and the real-time ability, including response metrics, is making digital advertising more appealing to marketers globally.

  • Worldwide digital advertising spend is projected to grow 13% (just under $700 Billion) in 2023, and from 2021 – 2026, the cumulative annual growth rate will be 11%.
  • In the US, the forecast shifted downward slightly during 2022 due to privacy changes, macroeconomic headwinds, and post-pandemic normalization of ad spend.

 If you look at the digital percentage of total media, it continues to dominate and will reach 80+ percent of total media spend by 2026.

Ad Spend is Diversifying

According to Insider Intelligence, Google and Meta are expected to bring in less than half of all U.S. digital advertising this year for the first time since 2014. While they're still vastly larger than others, their momentum is slowing as competition moves in. The biggest threat? Amazon, whose annual digital ad business is over $30 billion.By 2024, Amazon is expected to have 12.7% of all U.S. digital ad dollars, withMeta at 17.9%

What about Tik Tok? 

While TikTok's ad business is booming, it's still relatively small compared to the others. With an expected $8.6 billion ad revenue in 2024, they are currently the 5th-largest digital ad publisher in the U.S., behindGoogle, Meta, Amazon, and Microsoft/LinkedIn. However, as we can see on the chart below, TikTok is also one of the fastest growing.

Other fast-growing competitors would include:

  • E-commerce players like Walmart and Instacart
  • Streaming platforms like Spotify andHulu 
  • And, of course, Apple 

What's Happening?

Screens are everywhere, meaning consumers can be targeted anywhere, anytime, across multiple platforms. This opportunity has expanded the set of competitors for Google and Meta, from other publishers and social media firms to streamers, e-commerce companies, and beyond.

  • E-commerce includes Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and Etsy
  • Streaming includes TikTok, Hulu, Roku, Pluto, Tubi, Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartMedia
  • Tech includes Microsoft, Yelp, and Verizon/Yahoo
  • Social media includes Snap, Twitter, Pinterest, and Reddit

In response, Google and Meta continue looking for ways to stay dominant, relying heavily on digital video – YouTube forGoogle and Instagram for Meta.

Let's talk about PrivacyPolicy and Regulation…

Over the past five years, massive changes have significantly impacted data collection and the digital ad business. Keeping up with these changes has been challenging as lawsuits increase worldwide, typically targeting Big Tech., for violating policies like GDPR and the CCPA.

  • Five U.S. states, including C.A., have enacted comprehensive privacy laws
  • 60 privacy bills across 29 states were considered in 2022 alone, up 106% from 2021
  • 3rd party cookies and other tracking policies have significantly impacted digital advertising
  • Apple's app tracking policies impacted Meta's ability to target ads based on a user's activity across apps (According to Meta, this change will cost $10 billion this year)
  • Data shows that Apple's privacy changes cut ad ROI by 38% and caused a 25% drop in mobile ad spend

Google wasn’t as affected by these changes since its flagship search-ad business relies on customer intent/search terms, rather than data collected from app and web tracking.

Yes, 3rd Party Cookies are Going Away

Cookies, pieces of code on websites that track visitors, make it possible to target audiences based on interest. Apple and Firefox have implemented 3rd party cookie blocking, andGoogle is slowly phasing out third-party cookies.

Without 3rd party cookies, providing personalized advertisements will be much more challenging, which means businesses will have to alter their marketing strategies significantly.

Consent will also be front and center in 2023. Between cookies and app tracking, a recent data summit hosted by The Drum estimated that 70% of consumers have gone "data dark."During this summit, they referred to this group of consumers as the"Invisible 70%”.

Marketers will have to develop more personal strategies and one-on-one marketing tools to keep up. 

Another consequence of this shift is Google is switching from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4. If you use Google Analytics, you should start migrating to the new version beforeUniversal Analytics goes away on July 1, 2023.

How Are Companies Adapting to Find Success?

One-way companies are adapting is by focusing on their own 1st party data

To reach the "Invisible70%," brands, tech platforms, and retailers are investing heavily in building 1st-party data, partly out of necessity with Apple's changes. Those with reliable first-party data have launched their own ad services to generate additional revenue. 

Even if retailers offer up tens of millions of loyalty members and add the ability to reach them off-platform, they can't even begin to match the scale of Google, Facebook, andAmazon.

Book Discovery is Evolving

The digital lifecycle has more and different touch points to consider. As stated in PublisherWeekly"There is a new generation of readers emerging," so your marketing needs to be more diverse, finding the consumers where they are in the journey.

It's OK to Pay to Play

Given all of the changes we've mentioned and the changes yet to come, your marketing strategy needs to be broad. For instance, it would be best if you were doing paid advertising.It's essential for driving traffic and can yield fast responses in the awareness, consideration, and purchase funnel.

So what things should you and marketers be thinking about? What have we found works, and how can we help?

So What's a Book Marketer to Do?

Focus on First-Party Data

Over the past four years, Ingram has built a consumer audience totaling more than 2.7 million email subscribers and millions more website visitors. We've been doing so while navigating new security challenges, and it hasn't been easy.

Advertising fromFirst-Party Data Works

Creating first-party data  effective base for advertising, retargeting, and lookalike/similar audiences.

What's Working for Us Right Now at Ingram

 Here at Ingram, we have been building our new consumer marketing business, including a network of consumer websites and newsletters that we run and operate, reaching millions of readers across dozens of genres/categories. We develop direct relationships with readers through these consumer websites and have created several services [RK1] to help publishers and authors reach those readers. 

 Let's talk about a few things that have worked for Ingram for the past four years and how we're adapting.

- Prioritize Email

  • Our primary focus is on building our email database. Why?Because no one changes their email.
  • We can't control how browsers work, but we can still have a line of communication through email.

- Cater to the Strictest Privacy Laws

  • Treat everyone like they live in the EU or California.That way, if another state implements something similar, you're still compliant.
  • Learn the essential elements – cookie preferences, active acceptance, tracking of acceptance, and ability to delete if requested.

- Experiment, then Double Down on What Works

  • Overall, the best way to deal with all the uncertainty is to embrace it - A culture of trial and error.

We’re also seeing some great success with TikTok Influencer marketing, specifically pairing advertising with other efforts. For example, Instagram feeds are full of ads where the creative is an influencer’s post - doing this on TikTok has given us great results.

Mobile Video has also become increasingly important in our strategy, with the dropping of production standards and the easy repurpose of our influencer videos.

And don’t forget Google Ads – if your goal is promotion, paid or organic, think about what people are likely to search afterwards and be prepared with Google Search ads.

Ingram’s Customized Consumer Marketing Services


Reach Millions of Verified Readers with Ingram iD

  • Market your titles across social and retail websites from our easy-to-use consumer advertising platform.
  • Target an audience of active readers who have recently expressed interest in a specific genre, exclusive to Ingram.

Advertise to a Community of Readers through Ingram’s Consumer Brands

  • Ingram's network of websites and newsletters reach millions of readers across dozens of categories.
  • Find the right audience for your books with customized marketing solutions.

Harness the Power of our Consumer Marketing Agency*

  • See greater sales opportunities with a customized plan and dedicated point person through our Marketing Advantage program.
  • Watch your backlist titles grow and only pay when your sales grow.

*Currently only available to publishers distributed by Consortium Books Sales & Distribution, Ingram Academic & Professional, Publishers Group West, and Two Rivers Distribution.

Marketing Books with Digital Advertising in 2023: What’s Working, What’s Not & How to Find Success
Brian McKinley

Brian McKinley

Brian McKinley is the Vice President of Marketing and Customer Care at Ingram Content Group. Bringing over 25 years of experience as a marketing and branding executive, Brian oversees all aspects of marketing and customer experience including global brand and product marketing, communications and PR, consumer marketing programs, advertising sales, trade shows and events, and customer care.

Kim Schutte

Kim Schutte

Kim Schutte is the Director of Ingram’sConsumer Marketing. With nearly 20 years of marketing and book-industry experience, Kim has led Ingram’s consumer audience development efforts since the program’s founding, overseeing audience acquisition, data segmentation, service creation and overall program management.

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