Future of Media: Altimeter Group Pilot Event

Advertising: is it dying? In an ecosystem where rolling your own media has never been easier or cheaper, why would advertisers buy media from publishers to spread their messages? What’s the new model: advertorial; advertent (as one attendee dubbed it); content marketing? And hey, aren’t ads content, too?

Last night a group of advertisers and marketers from all sides of the equation (tech, buy-side, media and agency) got together at the Hangar to discuss these and other very topical issues around the future of media and advertising. As is traditional, we kicked off with a Wiki Wall to rev our brains. Questions included: “In what year will advertising die?” “What works better online, ads or content?” and “When do you build content versus buy media.”

There were passionate opinions, dissent, and even +1s.

Fueled with wine and lots of food, conversation began in earnest (ably facilitated by my colleague Jeremiah Owyang – also the event photographer). Some of the major points we touched on encompassed the following.

Advertising isn’t dying but…there are more options. Roll-your-own-media is a viable option, and one paying off handsomely for all types of advertisers and marketing, from the biggest CPG brands to B2B and even mom ‘n’ pop operations. Yet striking a balance between paid and non-paid (more about that below) media is complicated. It means new skill sets, budgets and resource allocations.

Media is changing, often painfully A point that really resonated with the group was the statement that the New York Times has more Twitter followers than it does print subscribers. Ouch. When should publishers throw up a paywall, follow a freemium model, or throw open the gates? It hasn’t been easy to monetize Google traffic. To make things more complex, publishers (not to mention media companies like Spotify) are playing in a Facebook world. That means lots of eyeballs, but scant tolerance for buy me/click here now-type messages. Some publishers, particularly in the magazine world, are establishing in-house agencies to provide advertorial for advertisers. But when advertisers begin content marketing initiative, publishers suddenly find themselves in a situation where clients are also competitors. Talk about disruption!

Content assumes multiple guises, resulting in a high level of complexity Where does content come from? Seemingly everywhere. It can be earned, owned, user-generated, aggregated or curated – or a combination of all of the above. Determining what to use, which goes where, how to integrate content with other marketing initiatives, governance, measurement and quality benchmarks is no mean feat. It requires new attitudes, resources and skill sets. Adding element such as targeting to the conversation, and addition channels such as mobile, only underscore how much there is to grasp…and balance.

The conversation was animated and lively – with a fantastic level of participation from the group. But it was the tip of the iceberg. Happily, it lay some solid foundations for my first Altimeter research report on how content marketing will impact the advertising and media ecosystem.

Missed the discussion? No you didn’t. We recorded the evening’s proceedings – watch the conversation here.

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