Podcast: How Troy Young Guides Hearst Digital Through Unstable Times

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The rollup of magazine media continues apace. Meredith’s acquisition of Time Inc, and Hearst’s buyout of Rodale have reduced much of the sector to just a few large companies. But the competitive set has if anything grown to include tech, digital publishers and “commerce + media” companies.

This week on AdExchanger Talks we hear from Troy Young, the outspoken global president of Hearst Digital Media, who says a key publisher challenge going forward is showing your ads drive sales.

“The pressure on publishers to quantify the results is not abating,” he says. Even so, there’s still a place for upper-funnel demand-creation of the sort that can’t easily be measured today. Advertisers still want that stuff, he says, “but they’re confused about how they get it systematically and how it can be quantified.”

Another factor tripping up media companies is how to forecast social audiences when key partner Facebook keeps turning on a dime. Young has little patience with colleagues who rend their garments over each tweak to its algorithm. “It’s ridiculous,” he says. “You become over-dependent on a distribution partner in a non-economic agreement at your peril.”

So what to do in the face of pressures both from distribution partners and ad buyers? The key word is “nimbleness.”

“Media moves through periods of distribution stability and instability,” Young syas. “When there’s distribution stability, whether that’s the newsstand, subscription-based for magazine or the cable ecosystem, you get these wonderful environments for content creation. And when you move through a period when distribution is unpredictable… you really have nimble and adaptive as an organization. And that’s where we are right now.”

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