This week’s IAB digital advertising report provided further evidence that publishers relying on digital display advertising technology are making a comeback after years of struggling to get traction against Google and search.

AdRoll Australian and ANZ managing director and former Allure Media owner Ben Sharp spoke to Which-50 about the challenges of monitising content, maintaining digital media profit margins, and the key paradigm shifts impacting media owners and their advertisers, as the tech-media convergence comes full circle.

“Content is most definitely King”, said Sharp, who as a former digital media owner himself understands native advertising and integrated content, which is relevant to the site and context, is imperative to treating the audience with respect — which in turn provides a firm foundation to build a profitable business model in the digital media age.

“Integrations that just make sense add value to all parties involved, and when supported by retargeting, customers are reminded of the engaging and relevant content, which can support them on their online conversion journey,” he said.

According to Sharp a great example of this is Microsoft’s Surface integrated content series on Conversant Media’s lifestyle site, Lost at E Minor — ¬where renowned artists created Microsoft branded and fully supported content with on-site infrastructure.

Ben Sharp
Ben Sharp

The technology-media divide has clearly dissipated with huge changes in the digital media landscape — a direct result of technological developments such as the rise of mobile, programmatic advertising, and the ability to harness big data — which seem so normal today but groundbreaking at the timeSharp started Allure Media back in 2007.

“Gizmodo implemented one of the first front-page skins takeovers, which took days of development work back then, now this can be done in seconds using an ad-server,” he said.

Sharp also said technology developments now give publishers greater control of their inventory and a better ability to monetise that inventory through the rise of programmatic advertising.

“Allure Media used a couple of networks for remnant inventory — it was either sell at a premium or offload at $1 CPM to a performance network,” he said.
“Publishers can now use a multitude of supply platforms to manage their inventory — both display, mobile and video, and use these to manage and maintain yield. And they no longer need to fear programmatic advertising as a ‘race to the bottom’, but as a strategic opportunity to manage and forecast their businesses more effectively.”

As online publishing fragmentation increases rather than consolidates, bucking the trend of other media assets, Sharp said technologies such as DoubleClick’s small business version for Publishers has democratised market entry into the digital media game.
Technology has given these newer niche, publishing businesses “the ability to play with the big guys, and make their remnant inventory available for purchase — while maintaining control and managing the yield of those ads.”

Sharp also cites mobile’s exponential growth, as another notable paradigm shift in the digital media landscape.

“In 2007 there was no chance of building a mobile optimised site and it wasn’t necessary – the iPhone hadn’t launched,” he said.

“The iPhone revolutionised the way we consume media and content launching the smartphone era.

“The ability to match the same user across different devices via cross-device targeting is a more recent development and very exciting for brands that want to recognise and engage with users at different times, on different devices.”

Finally, the rise of big data and the ability to blend it with programmatic ad technology, strategy and partners, Sharp said, has made digital marketing strategies much more effective and gives advertisers the ability to serve their customers the right message, at the right time, irrespective of the device.

“Data no longer only provides insights but allows brands to take immediate action with how ads are served, seen and customised,” he said.

“Marketers are sitting on a treasure trove of the richest insights available — their own data.

“This first party data comes from customers visiting a brand’s website and showing intent — or not — with every move they make.

“Harnessing that data and understanding what customers — or those consumers that need just a little push in the right direction — want from a brand is imperative, and a great retargeting strategy can be one of the most important tools in a marketer’s arsenal.”

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