Fighting Duopoly, Publishers See Added Value In Programmatic Marketplaces

Panelists at MediaPost’s Publishing Insider Summit today tackled a huge issue for publishers: How to build a successful business against the “duopoly” that is Google and Facebook gobbling up publishers’ advertising dollars.

Steve Smith, editorial director of events at MediaPost  asked the panelists, which included Bill Condon, senior director of ad integration and partnerships at ESPN; Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next; Dan Lagani, president and CRO of Diply; and Samantha Skey, president and CRO of SheKnows, where they saw publishing revenue growing and going.

“The money is not making its way to the content creators,” Kint said.

Not only are publishers “fighting for dollars against the normal competitive set,” but they are also fighting “the 800-pound gorillas that are Google and Facebook,” Condon said.

However, Lagani argued that Facebook and Google aren’t “inherently bad for our business.”

Content creators need to build their businesses “around the fact your consumer is engaging and discovering content — at the very least, lifestyle content — through social platforms and not through search," Lagani said. He added publishers their businesses to resonates on mobile and be video-driven.

“If you just think about living inside of these platforms, the revenue and profit always accrues to whoever controls the distribution," Kint said. If publishers rely too heavily on Google or Facebook, at any point an algorithm can change and hurt their business.

A big concern: The panelists stressed the advantages of private programmatic marketplaces, or PMPs, which let marketers make automated buys but target specific publications. PMPs mean marketers know exactly where their ads are running.

Kint said there is “nothing more important to publishers” than “accelerating” the move toward PMPs. “If you are being bought and sold in an open exchange and you don’t actually know where the ads are running, there are always going to be cheaper places for those ads to target those cookies or that user," he said.

Skey said PMPs is "over half our business now."

Smith added: “Ultimately media buyers on the other end — if it's fully transparent and they know where stuff is going and can compare the performance on your site to someone else's — their numbers should be telling them that superior context is superior ad impact.”

All of the panelists agreed that context is invaluable to media companies.

Kint said “automation is absolutely the future… but with that automation, we are depending more and more on just this movement of audience and cookies and targeting. But we are losing context. We are losing the context of the brand and losing sight of what we are actually doing business with.”

“When you’re on FB you don’t really care about the brand when you’re scanning your newsfeed -- that’s a problem," he added.

The “sweet spot,” according to Kint, is “moving back to where we marry scale and automation and context.”

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