Publisher Forum: Highlights from Austin

PubForum XXXIV: Highlights From Austin

Greetings from the Lone Star State! AdMonsters’ 34th Publisher Forum is officially under way in the Texas capital. If you couldn’t make it down this time, don’t fret. You can stay tuned right here for updates and content from the week. As for missing out on the barbecue, we’ll try to save you a doggy bag. 

MONDAY MORNING KEYNOTE: Tapping Into the Passion of the Internet, Nicholas White, CEO, The Daily Dot

9:24 a.m.: The digital media business is not dominated by media companies, mentions the Daily Dot’s CEO Nicholas White as he kicks off our Monday morning keynote at Publisher Forum. White started the Daily Dot in 2011 as a the ‘paper of record for Internet culture’. The company now has over 50 employees in both Austin and New York, with 12-17 mm page views per month. 

9:29: In the late 19th century, in the early days of the news business as we know it today, there was a huge amount of innovation – and, just like today, it wasn’t easy to get those technologies off the ground, says White. For instance, the advent of the Associated Press and wired news was ‘extremely disruptive’. 

9:31: The news companies were one of the first to put content on the Web – copying all the paper’s content and shovling it on a static site, that is. “A build it and they will come attitude,” says White. And, one decade later comes the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed. “What’s extraordinary about both of them [Huffington Post and BuzzFeed], they were built from the ground up to pair distribution with content,” White notes.

There is nothing that is owned when there’s distribution. “At the end of the day, the more we focus on distribution, the more we’re playing Google’s game,” White says. “It’s Google’s Internet, we just live on it.” There’s no way to beat Google or Facebook at Internet distrubiton, White argues. “So, we have to do something they cannot,” White says.

9:38: Microsoft makes fun of Internet Explorer’s reputation with a satirical video, airs it on The Onion. A perfect example of effective native advertising: using the audience and voice of a publication to great effect.   

9:40: People love advertising. People talk about ads and share their favorites. People buy Vogue just as much for the advertisements as they do the content. The million dollar question: how do we create the ads that go viral? 

Relevance isn’t easy, relevance takes time. And, that’s good, because relevance is the advantage factor, White says. “The ability to package is very much at the heart of what our competitive advantage – and our ability to drive revenue – comes from,” White adds. 

9:44What makes a successful premium publisher? Influential, multiplatform brand, in-house creative, desireable audiences (at scale!), viewable and customziable ad formats, video and web. There’s no reason for the Web to not outperform television, White says. 

9:47: What differentiates the successful new Web publishers versus the others? They figured out how to take all of these disparate elements and put them all together to truly drive revenue. 

MONDAY AFTERNOON PANEL: Winners’ Circle: DMLA Honorees Panel, Dennis Colon, Condé Nast and Erin Pettigrew, Gawker

4:05 p.m.: In our organization in the early days, there were a lot of people who didnt have experience in what we were doing. So, what they could bring was excitement and enthusiasm for the new things we were building, says Gawker’s VP, Business Development, Erin Pettigrew.

4:08: “I would do my own private pitch and go with it,” says Dennis Colon, Executive Director of Revenue and Ad Ops at Conde Nast. “And, that’s how we created our projects.” It’s about listening to your team and figuring out who wants to do it. They do the research and come to you with new ideas. 

Trafficking is a hard job and it takes a lot of time, so it’s about understanding and realizing what your team wants and needs, Colon adds.

4:11: Pettigrew: Nick Denton had a very clear idea of what he thought news was going to look like in the digital space – a ‘say-what-you-want’ environment. We created this ‘build-versus-buy’ ethos very early on in the process of Gawker, Pettigrew notes. We became very confident in our own ability to solve problems. It’s a very independent company – and we’re still looking for independent solutions for challenges.

4:14: The goal is strategy and to impact strategy, so I want to be a close as possible to those influencing strategy, says Colon on reporting to Conde Nast’s CMO.

4:16: Learning to talk in dollars was a very important lesson; you have to take yourself out of your own operational challenges and understand the dollar value of operations, says Pettigrew.

4:19: It’s a great way to get your feet wait [in a managerial role], because it’s very quantifiable and easy to figure out whether or not you’re meeting goals and doing a great job, said Pettigrew. 

“It was the first job that was not very well defined: there were no roles, it was chaos,” Colon says. [But], “I got to define what the role meant to the company,” adds Colon.

4:22: “In the early days, you were a campaign manager, and after a couple years you became a ‘super trafficker’,” mentions Colon. Then, later on, most of my time was spent on strategic meetings, which eventually led to building teams. Today, Condé has 29 people on their Ad Ops/Rev Ops team. 

4:28: It’s about weighing content and advertising equally so they have an even playing field in the reader stream, says Pettigrew. 

TUESDAY MORNING KEYNOTE: Exercising Innovation in Integrated Advertising, Doug Ziewacz, Under Armour (MapMyFitness)

9:13 a.m.: MapMyFitness always maintained an open platform policy; agnostic to platforms, integrating with multiple platforms. “We saw it as a strategy that we’d be at the center of all these platforms,” says Under Armour’s Doug Ziewacz. 

9:15: MapMyFitness Growth Stats: 30 million users currently, 25 new users every minute. Goal is to reach 100 million. 

9:16: Under Armour Connected Fitness: “Our vision is to be the largest connected fitness platform in the world,” says Ziewacz. “The only way to do this is to stay open.”

9:20: 70 percent of users access fitness and health apps daily, notes Ziewacz. MapMyFitness is the largest connected fitness platform for brands and marketers, with a 30 to 40 pecent active audience in the US. 

9:22: Outstanding growth: 340% growth in fitness wearables year over year. “I believe data collection will be not only ubiquitous, but it will be disposable,” says Ziewacz. And, with that comes a lot of data: data on over 160 million collected workouts projected for the end of this year. 

9:26: With all the data, MapMyFitness gets requests from municipalities asking about where people are running, where to place parks, etc. Brand partners get access to all fitness data, social data, etc.

9:28: The content is our users’ workouts. “With 100 percent certainty, we know this is a very involved and attentive audience,” Ziewacz says.

9:30: Added Values for Advertisers: People are at a positive, receptive mind when they’re working out; more open to brand messages. This is a very influential audience with a lot of insight for innovation of both technologies and products via Under Armour. 

9:34: “FITN”OFILE: Real-data categories of app users by fitness activities, fitness motivations, workout frequencies and more. 

9:37: The activity feed allows people to motivate friends, post comments, continue to be active even when not physically active. Find out about new workouts and new routes; feel senses of pride through social reinforcement via app.