Thoughts from the Digital Content Summit - London, 11 February 2014

This week a few members of the Coull Team attended the Digital Content Summit at the British Museum in London. I gave a talk on the value of content-level data in online video advertising and we listened to a range of interesting talks from various members of the digital content industry.

The focus of the event was to provide a forum for discussing the challenges facing publishers and brands in an age where mobile has become the primary way of accessing content and audiences have become increasingly fragmented.

What became immediately apparent was a widespread acceptance and acknowledgment of the feeling that the line separating publishers and brands has become increasingly blurred. Brands have become publishers, utilising content marketing to engage audiences and foster valuable, long-term relationships. Publishers have had to start thinking like brands, identifying and cementing their point of differentiation in an age where there’s never been more competition for share of voice.

For Reuters, one of the event sponsors, that point of differentiation was all about impartiality and trust. While recognising the value of crowdsourced, second-by-second news cycles enabled by platforms like twitter, Jessica April, Reuter’s Director of Global Business Development, made a strong case for trusted organizations as a vital counterbalance to reactive and often unverified social media sources.

For Will Hayward of BuzzFeed the point of differentiation that marks out BuzzFeed from its peers is a rejection of the cynicism that plagues some traditional media outlets. Hayward also highlighted the necessity of publishers moving away from a focus on being ‘destination sites’ and embracing the ‘social web’ as the place where users now consume and curate content, as BuzzFeed certainly has.

Our talk focused on the importance of content-level data in informing both editorial decision-making and video monetization. We made the case that if publishers and advertisers truly want to realize the value of video, as they must, it’s only a deep understanding of video content that will raise the value of video inventory by enabling contextual advertising. That value can only be seen at scale by embracing programmatic buying and selling of inventory, and with the audience showing strong optimism about programmatic’s growth in overall share of video ad trading, that certainly seems to be the case.

A panel discussion on levels of engagement across multi-screening posed some interesting questions for brands trying to maintain relationships with consumers in a fragmented world.  Another panel, focusing on monetization methods for digital publishers, featured Sue MacMillan of Mumsnet highlighting how publishers can leverage their brand value and community engagement to drive revenue. Perhaps no surprise, but reinforcement of the idea that in the digital environment, identity is everything.  

All in all an interesting day, with a good mixture of actionable takeaways for attendees and important questions to consider when mapping out strategies for the future.


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