Viewability Will Drive Display Ad Innovation Says Peder Bonnier

bonnierWith over 50 magazine brands worldwide, including such niche “rag” legends as Popular Science and Field & Stream, Bonnier’s publishing arm has taken the long ride from print to digital. And as its digital strategy has expanded, so too has the company’s analysis of data for making the most of advertising yield.

Peder Bonnier heads the company’s digital division for its Swedish magazine business, where he oversees a publisher network claiming the third largest digital reach in Sweden.

As a web publisher, Bonnier says that the biggest challenge in the past year has been building value into his properties’ traditional display ad offering.  But rather than blame the banner ad format, or the long tail, or something else, Bonnier thinks that the user’s engagement with a display ad has not been properly measured. In turn, this has affected CPMs and the revenue opportunity for publishers.

Bonnier states, “Correctly implemented, a traditional banner ad can be a great ad product, but most of the time it’s not and that’s why the market is shifting towards ‘native.'”

To stem the tide in traditional display, Bonnier and his company turned to Gothenburg-based Burt to measure and evaluate ad campaigns – including viewability of ads – which then inform the tactics his company uses in display.  Bonnier likes the actionable insights he sees, “We don’t customize [Burt’s products] nor do we spend a lot of time pulling out data and putting it into a format we like.  The problem they solved for us is essentially generating very actionable reports in a format that our advertisers can understand.”

Beyond the analytics, and at the center of it all, is the company’s cookie data, which is matched against Bonnier’s very own panel-based (think Nielsen, comScore, etc.) data to provide additional insight for targeting.

Bonnier discussed web publishing trends with AdExchanger recently.

AdExchanger: What key industry trends are you anticipating in the next 12-18 months?

PEDER BONNIER: Within 12 months, I would like our advertisers to only ask and pay for viewable impressions. So, across all of the exchanges, over all the networks, over the entire market, the entire inventory shifts from gross to viewable.  If that happens in the market, we’ll see a huge amount of innovation around the display ad format as well as the way that websites are designed.

A rebirth of the banner ad is possible.  It’s a little bit depressing to see that the market has shifted to some of the newer ad formats so quickly.  For example, we see that the larger format ads work well, but those are a reaction to a misconception that traditional display ads can never work.   Once we get over that hurdle with viewability in combination with the application of cookie data, the product will be amazing.

What about hooking into the offline world with your digital publishing and advertising?

We do share systems with offline in terms of email marketing where there’s a lot of overlap. But, Sweden has certain laws around the amount or type of private data that can be used, and how you can share that between platforms.   There are other geographies where that might have more potential. In the end, we use our panel-based demographic data for targeting.

Also, between the online and offline properties for our brands, we don’t have more than a 10 to 15% overlap in terms of readership. Consequently, we run them as very separate entities with separate demographics.

Where else does the print magazine and website publishing business intersect?

Making a great paper magazine and making a great and successful digital website is very different.

The nature of the work for each means there is almost no overlap.  And there’s an advantage in being digital-only and not being tied to the magazine. Almost no one in my digital group knows anything about how to make a magazine, yet we know how to use search and social media channels effectively, for example.

But, there are examples of integration of cross-channel media programs for our advertisers. Bonnier (which also owns television stations) might make a nine-episode TV show and then we’ll do a web TV show with a banner ad campaign.  So, there can be some overlap between digital and traditional channels.

Also, the data that we create and understand from the web does play into the editorial in print, too.  Especially when it comes to understanding search and trends there.

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