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"Publishers need to understand why networks have risen so quickly"

On Tuesday 23 February, AdMonsters President Matt O’Neill is chairing AOP’s next seminar: the New Rules of Revenues: Online Advertising 2010. Ahead of the event, we asked Matt about the state of the online advertising marketplace.

Find out more, or book your place online.
matt oneill

What do you see as the biggest shifts in the way the display advertising market is evolving?

There are definitely huge shifts going on right now and just in the last 12 -18 months, we've seen the beginning of a major change in the way media will be traded online.

It's tough to pull out the biggest shifts but I think it's safe to say it hasn't been around new ad formats or flashy rich media campaigns.

The big shifts in the media market have been and will continue to be around the way it is managed and traded.

For instance, the emergence and rapid adoption of ad exchanges is something that could be a significant game changer. RightMedia, AdECN, and DoubleClick AdExchange have and will continue to have a major impact on online ad trading.

A second, and related area that I think is one of the key areas to watch is the ad network optimisation space. Companies like AdMeld, Improve Digital and The Rubicon Project grew rapidly in the last 18 months due to the increasing complexity of managing multiple advertising networks on the publisher side.

Similar solutions - demand side platforms - are now cropping up on the buy side and putting this type of power directly into the hands of the agencies. This will have big ramifications in the way online ad inventory is bought and sold.

Beyond these areas, I think as mobile devices which, let's face it, still represent basically an experimental amount of marketing budget, will continue to evolve and become more interesting to marketers, especially with the proximity data they will be able to transmit.

But that's way out there still. Online video will continue to grow and be an important tool, and ad units will grow and by necessity have to be more interruptive. The OPA and IAB are looking into which formats will become the new standard.

But, I'd say hands down, networks, ad exchanges, and network optimizers both on the buy and the sell side are going to be the biggest areas to watch.

What has been the main impact on publishers in terms of challenges and opportunities and how do you think these challenges can best be overcome?

The days of an online media company being made or broken by a stellar premium sales team are behind us, I think.

The best sales teams of the future will have to have a deep understanding of the platform and technologies in the marketplace and will need to offer creative solutions to be competitive in premium sales.

With the emergence of network optimisers and real time bidding and the resulting increase in the complexity of the online advertising space, the role of technology and advertising operations becomes increasingly important.

Those publishers who invest heavily in developing the best possible operations teams will come out the winners. And this doesn't just mean traffickers and ad managers. This means really looking at ad operations as a critical business unit and empowering them with the role of business operations.

Publishers with strong business leaders running an operations team tasked with inventory, systems, yield maximisation, client services, and campaign trafficking and management will find it much easier to execute in the brave new world of online marketing.

Publishers will also have to work closely with overall ecosystem including agencies and the technology system providers. They'll want to inform decisions and direction, not just react to changes in the market.

How do you anticipate that the marketplace will continue to evolve in the decade ahead?

I would have a tough time looking out much past 18 months, much less a decade. I expect that the old adage will hold true: the only constant will be change.

No-one five years ago would have predicted Twitter, YouTube, the massive rise of Facebook, and other new types of online interaction. To even think about 10 years ahead in our industry is pretty much impossible. It's like trying to imagine a new color.

All that said, I do think we'll see a trend of moving away from online advertising being just about the browser. Online marketing will become increasingly disconnected from any one web interface or device. It will seep into and transplant traditional TV advertising, outdoor advertising, and others. You'll receive ads you don't know are ads (think iPhone/Pad apps), advertising will become not just about context and behaviour but about location and activity.

Anyhow, these are things that plenty of other people know far more about and it's not particularly useful for the issues people are facing today.

What do you think the impact on publishers will be?

Adapt and innovate or struggle and die. Honestly.

How do you think publishers can position themselves to take full advantage of the market changes both current and future?

I think publishers need to understand why networks have risen so quickly and why the game is shifting to the hands of buyers and out of the hands of sellers. It will take collaboration and interaction with all the concerned parties: their customers, advertisers and agencies, technology companies, the government, trade bodies, etc.

It will require smart, technical people at publishers to lead the way. A lot of their success will lie in determining ways to monetise the massive amount of data they can collect from their customers and technology platforms without breaching the public's trust.

It will involve figuring out how to provide information in real time regardless of medium (browser, mobile, television, etc.) and being able to serve as the moderator between the advertiser and the customer.

It's going to be exciting. But it's not going to be easy.

Find out more about the event and speakers, or book your place online.

Improve Digital

This event is supported by
Improve Digital


'Money money money' image by Whatknot

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