The advertising industry sits at a crossroads in the early stages of defining the future, so the debate rages on whether digital media such as content can contribute to the loss from any traditional or digital advertising. The news business is seeking new revenue models to develop it.
On Friday, a panel of experts debated some of the issues, led by MediaPost Editor in Chief Joe Mandese at MediaPost OMMA SXSW at South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) -- and sparked some forward-thinking strategies to integrate text, images, social and search into traditional media coverage.
"How do we build a sales organization that's trained to sell content instead of advertising?" asked Lindsay Nelson, global head of brand strategy at Vox Media, the parent company of online publications like Re/code.
Nelson said about 60% of Vox's overall business has branded content associated with it, and companies need to "get beyond the traditional IAB ad units."
Online, information becomes the content. Mandese asked what happens once the information moves into the public domain -- how do online publishers mange the distribution and monetize the content? "There's nothing you can do," said Jed Hartman, chief revenue officer at The Washington Post.
Hartman believes that media companies must diversify within advertising, so they are great at everything. WaPo's revenue stream comes from DSPs, open programmatic, native, newsletters and videos, among others like live media and licensing, It fact, it relies on about 18 sectors.
"I'm incredibly optimistic," Hartman said. "If the content company experimenting executes well and makes good decisions, there's a bright future."
Images are also important. Joy Jones, VP of products, Associated Press, said clients are much less likely to pick up a story without an image.
The window for opportunity is quick, requiring media outlets to continually keep the machine churning out the next piece, Jones said.
Global reach through digital also supports monetization for AP, a 170-year-old news organization. The media company launched a products team just two years ago, Jones said. The company generates 1,000,000 photos and 50,000 video stories per year, as well as 2,000 stories per day from about 110 countries.
Regional hubs were once a place for journalist to hang their hat, but for AP, they are now a place to understand trends and user-generated content. Revenue sources also continue to shift. The AP allocated 30% of the budget to the Internet in 2015 vs. 15% in 1993.