“The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.
Today's column is written by Jarrod Dicker, vice president of commercial product and innovation at The Washington Post.
When balancing both proactive and reactive strategies, it’s a continuous battle for publishers to decide when to push and when to pull when it comes to product innovation. With the right investment and understanding of the value it plays for agencies and clients, publishers now have a chance to help drive change in the industry.
Long gone are the days when audience and scale were enough to get ad dollars. And while audience and brand safety are still of massive importance, it’s not enough in the crowded world of media. Speed, for example, was a necessity when the Facebook Instant and Google AMP products were rolled out (reactive). Publishers worked to reduce latency to have an experience on par or better than those on platforms.
Sometimes publishers need to set the trends in order to move advertisers forward. Short-form storytelling and video were trail-blazed by publishers looking to deliver video to users in formats native to device and device behavior (proactive).
The new client and publisher relationship is one of comprehensive utility. In a world where the client must decide what assets to create and where to run them, there needs to be an awareness of how publishers can help partners be everywhere. That means being on more platforms (scale), having less flexibility with creative (investment) and less direct publisher sales (brand affiliation).
The utility role is both strategic and evolving and creates greater opportunity for direct publisher relationships. If publishers are viewed not as just destinations but as technology companies, it opens up a competitive advantage beyond audience growth.
Media Companies Are Also Tech Companies
Clients want to be everywhere but don’t have the means to adapt content for every device, platform and situation. Media companies know how to deliver content across every scenario and have already invested in building many of these things for their newsroom.
Instead of just thinking of those strategies through an editorial lens, publishers should build technologies to isolate those strategies in order to license, sell or consult with advertisers to tell stories in a variety of ways.
Your Platform Is Your Playground
Traditionally, the idea of a publisher’s audience and platform was leveraged to simply sell against. A brand wants to reach a certain audience and that audience lives on their owned-and-operated channels. It was a landscape for delivery.
However, with third-party amplification providers and platforms, that’s no longer enough to win larger campaigns and build lasting relationships. Think of your platform as a breeding ground for innovation. It’s not just a destination but a sandbox for experimentation. There are millions of consumers monthly spending time on your platform. Test new products. Get feedback. Adapt accordingly. Repeat.
This will allow for new product findings and strengthening of all existing products. It will also open up new revenue opportunities and value for your client partnerships.
Adopt A ‘No-Silo’ Mentality
Ideas come from everywhere; establishing a no-silo mentality is critical to innovate and bring additional value to clients.
Integrate teams to develop new perspectives and ideations beyond their current silo. When building a faster advertising experience, bring in an engineer that’s never worked in advertising before. If you’re building products to make video advertising more efficient, ask a producer for perspective on the overall user experience. Often times, new perspective and breaking down barriers is where the best ideas blossom.
The media innovation misconception is that innovating means filling voids and catching up to competitors. But as a business, you’re already doing something right, so allocate a majority of your attention there. These innovations should not have a shelf life. They cannot expire. Each product and technology should be an attempt in a new direction while being agile and able to adjust based on market feedback and perception.
By building this way from the beginning, the products you build will constantly be ahead of the curve. And instead of a constant reactive approach, media companies can set the course for where the advertising industry should go in order to build better customer relationships and experiences.