“Data Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Kirk McDonald, President at PubMatic.
The constant stream of new technologies in our everyday lives has created a “shiny new penny” syndrome. One day it’s emerging mobile apps that take the forefront, then a new device or software launches that promises to revolutionize your business workflow and drive new revenue streams. I feel fortunate to have been in the media industry for a while now, and have seen trends, technologies, and even companies come and go. But regardless of the endless avalanche of change and advancements, there are two entities that I’m convinced will be around 100 years from now: publishers and advertisers.
In recent weeks we have been reading a lot about changes affecting major media players. However, regardless of which brands eventually stand the test of time, the exchange of information will always remain critical to society. Today’s consumers have voted in favor of brands that provide timely, personalized, and streamlined access to information. Publishers that appreciate the proven principles of media and publishing and adapt their true value proposition to new delivery vehicles will inevitably win.
Yet, it’s not as simple as "build it and they will come."
Publishers that invest in understanding their audience and responding to their needs in real time will succeed. Data management skills and the ability to leverage the controls of a real-time transaction platform remain critical. Successful publishers will personalize both the content and the advertising experience, managing a dynamic consumer experience across all platforms—such as smart phones, PCs, televisions, and tablets. Done well, consumer engagement will be more effective, advertisers will be happier, and business will continue to grow.
Platforms like real-time bidding (RTB) create room for ingenuity—marrying the art of content with the science of technology--and new innovations are giving publishers greater control and transparency over which advertisers are most suitable to work with. Forward-thinking publishers such as Hearst and Business Insider understand that many consumers are making split-second decisions to engage with large volumes of content at varying intervals. Smart publishers who provide high-quality, advertiser-sanctioned environments can effectively learn from trial and error and discover what resonates. And as the definition of “publisher” expands, look for both traditional and emerging channels to continue to flourish and complement, rather than diminish or replace each other.
Advertisers are Demanding Innovation
While savvy publishers are embracing innovation, advertisers are playing a related, but different, ball game. Many advertisers have been ahead of the technology curve and are constantly looking for robust platforms to extend their growth. They are constantly thinking of ways to engage increasingly skeptical audiences who are not interested in being “sold” to.
Developing concepts such as ‘native advertising’ can be achieved in many ways once we accept that more consumer intimacy is acceptable if done in an honest and trusting partnership. It’s an age of conversation in media that is happening between consumers, advertisers, and publishers.
We should learn to see the world neither as a buy side vs. sell side, nor as advertisers vs. publishers. Both entities’ fates are mutually linked; any deprecation of one could lead to the downfall of the other. The best kept secret is this: Advertisers and publishers have always wanted to work together. What they’re looking for are smarter ways to work in unison and more efficient means of engaging audiences in that conversation. That being said, it’s crucial for advertisers to refrain from the “shiny new penny” syndrome and bolster their core strengths and best practices with smart technology.
No More Us Vs. Them
From the era of Mad Men to the current age of display, mobile, and video content, the twin pillars of publishers and advertisers will continue to be the gatekeepers to the flow of information and audience access. Powerful information technology in the hands of consumers has created both disruptive business challenges and incredible opportunities. Ad tech has risen to capture the opportunity for some players, and has changed it for all. With the expanding model of programmatic buying and selling of digital advertising inventory, bridging the interests and needs of media buyers and media creators has never been more dynamic. The players who stand in the shadows and have no long-term plan to keep both entities strong— and would rather play the role steeped in self-interest — are seeding their own demise.
The publishers and advertisers who jointly figure out how to make the content and advertising experience for the consumer more relevant, engaging, and personalized will live on. As the consumer continues to pick and choose among a diverse range of publishers and advertisers, it is imperative that both camps come together around a platform to create and deliver the most compelling experiences.