See what's on at The Drum
Predictions Festival Banner

Future of Media: Identity crises, budget predictions, Prince Philip planning

The Drum's media editor John McCarthy rounds up the latest media trends each Thursday, this is also available in your inbox. Sign up here.

This is an extract from The Drum’s Future of Media briefing. You can subscribe to it here

Welcome back to your Future of Media briefing from media editor John McCarthy. This week we've been inundated with ID talk and preparing for our TV deep-dive later this month.

ID Ideas

Over the last few weeks, my inbox has been filled by ID solutions all jostling for attention and spend – this is interesting because Google believes (or is ensuring) that solutions which offer “a level of user identity for ad tracking across the web” will not be feasible.

We don’t know how the open web will be funded. Adtech firms are drawing a line in the sand, to bridge the third-party cookie in the short term and support marketer demands in the long term. Where they draw their line in the sand is important, if the solution is too invasive, it may be wiped out by the rising tides of consumer privacy regulation.

Enter GumGum, the contextual AI company that received a huge $75m investment from finance giant Goldman Sachs this week – a sure-fire sign of confidence in the coming importance of contextual advertising (which remember does not NEED personal identifiable information to operate). GumGum managing director for EMEA, Peter Wallace, explained to me about its heritage in the space – frankly he’s fed up with everyone now saying they have a contextual advertising solution. GumGum's been in the sector since 2008, and suddenly, it's not impressed with how busy it is... [Read it here]

Meanwhile, Publicis became the first holding company to support Unified ID 2.0, an identity solution being built by The Trade Desk to gather in-depth first-party data insights on consumers and make it easier to buy. The digital media chain is about to go “nuclear”, says Publicis's data arm Epsilon, and it believes its 250m IDs provide the answer. [Read it here]

Verizon, once the home of the super cookie, released a solution that doesn’t need individual identifiers. Not exactly related but adjacent, Comcast also released a new solution [Freewheel] that allows marketers to make a linear TV spot addressable across multiple platforms and devices.

Those who can are ramping up their first-party capabilities and increasing the depth of insights they can require. I hope we’ve not just incentivised a new generation of privacy violations that’ll take decades to keep up with.

Philling time

The passing of prince Philip was the UK’s first royal death in the digital age. There were some interesting takeaways for media buyers.

Marketers are obsessed with tracking and reacting to the public’s mood – so I explored how the industry reacts when tens of millions of people are grieving, and (most of) the rest are grudgingly respectful.

While some broadcasters tore up their schedules to mark the life of the prince, media buyers had to dust off the playbook around the death of a royal. It's a most unusual interruption to a marketing campaign, but in the digital age, there’s more scope than ever to pause and amend creative. [Read it here]


Traditional auction houses, such as Christie's, are making headlines through the use of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), which have become increasingly popular. Are the auction houses jumping on the bandwagon for attention or is there a long-term business model here?

Digital art genius Beeple sold one piece of NFT art through an online sale at Christie’s for $69.3m to a Singapore-based investor, inspiring our reporter there, Shawn Lim, to explore just what the auction house is up to [here].

In the age of streaming, social sharing, disposable entertainment and fleeting digital fame, maybe NFTs are how this generation again come to grips with the concept of ownership. Any of us with a social presence has a horse in this race. Like the lost souls in the river Styx, we’re drowning in the attention economy. We create content, coin for the algorithmic ferryman, to be elevated above the writhing, wallowing masses. Now anyone can create and share art for followings of screeching shades. NFTs could be the key to immortalising their work and giving it the respect it deserves. As I approach 30, it sounds like my idea of hell. I've been paddling in this pool for too long.

Good reads

That's all for this week. If you missed the last issue, read it here. You can subscribe to our other briefings here. If you want to speak to this large audience of media execs, we're open to contributors and sponsors [contact here]. And if you want to talk to me, I'm here (Twitter, Linkedin, email).

By continuing to use The Drum, I accept the use of cookies as per The Drum's privacy policy