IAB Annual Leadership Meeting and PaidContent 2011: The Future of People, Publishing and Data

It was a big week for the publisher ecosystem. Both the IAB Leadership Summit and PaidContent.org took on the big questions facing the publishing and advertising ecosystem. It was great to see so many great folks from both publishers and technology providers, @IAB put on the best event to date, Randall, Lisa, Phil et al put together an agenda which kept people engaged until the close yet encouraged networking – a delicate balance. A big thanks as well to Jeff Britt and the team at PaidContent. The IAB Leadership Summit, in the midst of Do Not Track  intiatives, took on the question of data vs. people, which was reframed by Babycenter’s Tina Sharkey as data “and” people but as Bowen Dwelle of Admonsters says should have been “Data is Awesome” given the mood at the event. The Doc Searls data camp focuses on putting control of data completely in the hands of the end user.  While we believe transparency is critically important, we’ve seen that it’s unlikely that most individuals will make the effort to purchase and actively maintain third party data management services. Dwelle reinforced this sentiment, saying “I agree w/ moving from “privacy fears” to “data as an asset” – but how to get consumers to care about data?”  If this is indeed the case, it puts more responsibility on identity providers, publishers and advertisers alike to treat end users as people.  As Rik van der Kooi, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s Advertiser & Publisher Solutions (APS) group said, “Don’t ask don’t tell for data is not an acceptable way of doing business.” On the other hand we do agree with Doc that people absolutely want a certain amount of control over how they apply their online identities. Doc said “We want not just control of our data, we want independence. Who you are to Google is different than who you are to Facebook.” We’ve seen this desire in action, with people using Facebook or Twitter identities in many cases when they are looking for personal social context, then apply a LinkedIn identity in a business context. What’s really exciting is that the industry is embracing the idea of a new generation of permission marketing, where permissions granted are to valuable personal and social data.  This is one key way the industry is addressing legislative initiatives like “Do Not Track.” Some key event quotes and tweets included:

  • Personal data is the new oil of the Internet and the new currency of the digital world
  • In 2011 all ads will be data informed including social data and social advertising, and brand advertising will be 50% of data budgets
  • Omar Tawakol of BlueKai: We are coming into a world where data is king (no longer context)
  • Omar Tawakol: Every CMO will be investing in a data management platform – they are “leaking gold”

Interestingly, Microsft’s Van der Kooi asked “The key is do you believe users are willing to share data with parties they trust in exchange for value?” This type of exchange is not a question, it is a proven reality. Every day millions of people with accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and other identity and social providers share their profile and friend data with trusted sites like CBS.com, HBR.org, IAB.net, Answers.com and many more in exchange for a more personalized and social site experience. In addition to the gold of social data, Coke’s Wendy Clark spoke extensively about the value of sharing and self-expression:

  • We as marketers and brands have to contemplate the sheer power of the connected consumer
  • Q: what’s better, a ‘share’ or a ‘like’? A: hands down, a ‘SHARE’ is far more powerful. (for more on like vs. share you can download the free whitepaper)
  • Impressions are a passive metric. Expression is the new metric of engagement with consumers. (p.s. check out our new Reactions plugin, we couldn’t agree more)

Coke is a long-time customer, using Gigya’s technology to drive sharing for everything from new product launches to sponsorship of the Olympic games.  Coke consumers are passionate about the brand, and so enabling them to share a wide range of creative and often emotional forms of self-expression is now a fundamental marketing strategy. Huffington Post has been the poster child for the permission-based model for the publishing industry, even more so since their recent acquisition, and Arianna Huffington was one of the featured speakers at Paidcontent 2011 (#PC2011).  Gigya CEO David A. Yovanno presented several pieces of research, including how brands and publishers have made social login a major priority, enabling this permission-based approach. In fact, the members of the “Mass Content” panel at PC2011 were all trying to see a future in social, with none seemingly obsessed with Google. On a separate note, a session from Demand Media raised the question of “what is journalism?”  Richard Rosenblatt’s take? “We’re not trying to be journalists. Only journalists tell us we are trying to be journalists.”  Meanwhile Mahalo’s Jason Rapp challenged the Demand media model, saying, “Are things changing? “The one way to game Google was to create low-quality, 200-word articles. That era is done. That’s what we welcome – we’ve figured out the formula for what is a high-quality and engaging experience.” Understandably, the most innovative monetization models are coming from businesses with no legacy model to defend. But embracing a fast-follower social and data strategy when you have a venerated brand to tend can be the wiser course of action.  It’s exciting to have such incredible reinforcement of the value of making publisher websites social, of applying social data and taking a transparent, permission-based approach to data. The tools we make available to every company bring all the value of the innovator without the deep financial investment, and are quickly becoming a critical driver of competitive advantage for both the publishing and advertising industries.

By Kevin White