Key Takeaways for Publishers from Ad Week 2012

A key theme discussed throughout Ad Week was that a publisher’s most valuable asset is not their brands, their content, or even their apps – it is their audience. As content providers, both new and old, continue to commoditize content, it will be the publisher that knows its audience’s wants and needs best that wins out. So how do you avoid irrelevance and differentiate in an inundated, rapidly changing publisher ecosystem?

Eliminate internal silos limiting audience experience

Your audience does not think in terms of traditional and digital, nor does it differentiate between desktop and mobile. Many predict that mobile traffic will be the majority of American web traffic by 2014, so it is vital to begin this unification process now. If internal silos are limiting how well you know or treat your audience cross-platform, eliminate them.  Your overall strategy should be designed to work seamlessly regardless of medium or platform.

Publishers should focus on relationships with audiences

An engaged audience is the publisher’s key currency. Firsthand data will enable you to truly understand your audience better than any secondhand or aggregate industry data will. Create data-driven products that in turn allow you to learn as much as possible about your audience so that necessary changes are swift and create a better overall audience experience.

Ads must be contextual to be successful

The use of Native Advertisements (ads that look and feel increasingly editorial or appear as part of the content) will continue to be a way to deliver relevant branded messages that aren’t easily ignored by the audience. Some early examples of this are Facebook’s mobile ads appearing directly in the newsfeed, or the General Mills site Live Better America built on the Huffington Post platform. If an ad delivers relevant and valuable content, users will undoubtedly be more receptive of it and the campaign will see drastically improved results.