Ad Revenue 2015: The Publishing Industry’s “Real-Time” Equation

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PubMatic’s Quarterly Mobile Index revealed that due to the rise in mobile media consumption, mobile optimization (i.e. the transition to mobile-friendly websites) is progressing at a breakneck speed, and the quality of mobile advertising is improving. This trend was a key topic of discussion during the 2015 Ad Revenue Conference last month, where more than 700 agency, media, technology and publishing executives gathered in New York and London to discuss the challenges and trends in the ad buying and selling space.

We talked quite a bit at the Ad Revenue conference about our industry’s need to “get ahead of real-time,” consistently pushing ourselves to grow by adopting new technology, paying attention to device and platform changes such as mobile growth and creating valuable experiences for the consumer. But drilled down, what does that really mean? According to the industry leaders at Ad Revenue, four things:

Getting back to our roots of storytelling: At the Ad Revenue conference, PubMatic President Kirk McDonald issued a challenge to “get back to the storytelling.” We have to remember in this age of CPMs, mobile devices and always-on messaging, that our success is determined just as much by what we’re saying as how our messages are reaching audiences.

Michael Kassan, Chairman & CEO of Medialink spoke about the need for tech players to step up and stop thinking that tech alone is the answer to every advertising problem. According to current eMarketer stats, the average American adult spends twelve hours per day consuming media across channels. Consumers are experts on what makes quality content – they’re insatiable for good stories that make connections, and it’s our jobs as advertisers to provide these stories to them.

Understanding the real drivers behind challenges: One of the key takeaways from our Ad Revenue CRO panel was the need to stay nimble and understand the drivers behind real and perceived challenges. Take ad blockers, for example, which many industry experts view as the push for brands and publishers to create better, more engaging and relevant advertising experiences for the consumer. The situation isn’t as simple as it seems. As Michael Kassan said during his presentation at the conference, ad blockers can be looked at as simply a reaction by audiences to poor content and experiences. We have to be sure we’re hearing what our audiences are telling us rather than having a knee-jerk reaction to industry challenges.

Harnessing the power of data: Upstream Group Founder and CEO, Doug Weaver, the moderator for our CRO panel at Ad Rev, said that “Data is like bacon. It makes everything better.” Data helps advertisers make better decisions on everything from how to optimize and when, how to deliver content to what stories are most compelling. The key, as discussed by another panelist, is using data to truly provide a more thoughtful experience for consumers. Today’s advertisers have so many tools at their disposal, but to use tools effectively, they have to take a step back and see what story the non-stop flow of data is telling about consumers and their preferences. With real time data, publishers and advertisers can see what truly resonates with consumers, which will help the industry create and deliver more relevant, high quality ads to them.

Creating experiences that we would want to have: Consumers’ time and attention are increasingly rare commodities, and it’s critical that we ensure all of us – PubMatic, publishers, agencies and advertisers – are paying attention to how our audiences are consuming ads as well as what it is they’re eager to consume. We have to think about the types of experiences and platforms we appreciate as consumers, and translate these into what we serve our audiences.

As Bloomberg Media CEO Justin B. Smith told audiences at Ad Revenue, the industry has to move towards implementing new skill sets regarding monetization and creative. It’s a combination of data, creative, content and technology that drives success and growth. In reality, it’s all about being strategic and looking at the ways we can automate, scale and innovate our industry while telling stories that matter.

Paul Caine of Bloomberg might have said it best during the CRO panel: It’s about the “right content, right time and right platform to tell the full story.”

Whether you attended Ad Revenue or not, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how to handle this delicate balance between content, technology and actionable insights.

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