Last week, publishers said that closing out 2023 was just as painful a task as it was selling the rest of the year, with many Q4 ad deals still coming in just under the wire.

But four media execs said they also see a small light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the conversations they are having with advertisers and agencies around planning for the first quarter and full-year 2024 campaigns. In fact, a few publishers said that these conversations started as early as July this year to plan out what long-tail campaigns might look like in 2024, specifically for those centered around experiential, exclusive talent and niche topic tie-ins and less on scale for scale’s sake.

The M&A race in 2021 to consolidate the media industry and try to compete with the massive audiences that Google, Meta and other platforms offered advertisers seems to have not had the intended effect, according to two media buyers.

While buyers want “some element of scale” from publishers, “it’s not the be all, end all … we can get that scale in other places in other ways,” said Stacey Stewart, U.S. chief marketplace officer at UM.

Read more on Digiday.