Internet Week Winds Down With the Future of Media Panel Media mavens discuss an uncertain future

Friday's panel on the Future of Media was pretty much a microcosm for the entirety of Internet Week, as media professionals gathered to dissect the changing media landscape and the uncertainty of the future for the industry. A diverse panel, including Adweek's own executive editor, James Cooper, packed an impracticably small television studio at NYU (though it was well equipped with a spillover room) to give their take on the state of an industry in transition.

Facebook Musings

On Facebook's official IPO day, the panel couldn't avoid questions about the social network, and the panelists seemed to be in agreement that the site has only continued to grow in importance as a traffic referrer for publishers. Jonah Peretti of BuzzFeed noted, "Facebook is our biggest traffic referrer by far," surpassing Google last year. Jessica Coen of Jezebel added that Facebook was also far and away the largest source of traffic for the Gawker property.

Death of the Banner Ad?

Another buzzworthy topic this Internet Week was the future, or possible lack thereof, for the banner ad. “As soon as a better mousetrap comes along, banners will go away,” Cooper told the audience. Some, like Peretti, are banking on the success of the social Web and brands emulating publishers to connect on a more emotional level with consumers. Coen cited the recent move of an editorial staffer to the Gawker sales team, and even admitted that she didn't notice the banner ads on her site anymore.

On Newspapers and Print

When asked about Warren Buffet's recent purchase of 63 newspapers this week, Reuters' social media editor, Anthony De Rosa, and newly elected Yahoo board member Michael Wolf seemed bullish on smaller, local papers, noting that there will continue to be a market for people to want to read the local news and see their kids in the paper. Speaking more broadly, Coen spoke to the tactile nature of the print medium and believes that there is still relevance there.

"There is something about holding a glossy magazine or a paper that can't be replicated," she said, adding that when a president is elected, people won't want to save a printed out Web page. It is worth noting, however, that Coen later said she would bet her entire income on the success of tablets in the coming future.

As to the future of the paper of record, Peretti speculated that in five years things would be pretty much the same for The New York Times. "In five years The New York Times won't be a great business, but they will do some very quality work, which is pretty similar to how it is now," he said.

May 18, 2012, 5:47 PM EDT

Silicon Alley's Night Out Time Inc. throws party for city's top startups

Wednesday night, for the second year in a row, Time Inc. threw a party to fete its list of 10 NYC Startups To Watch. Several of the company's leaders sat down with Adweek to discuss how being based in Silicon Alley colors their businesses.

Nikhil Sethi, CEO and cofounder of social ad firm Adaptly
“Being in the ad space, we realized that there’s only one city in the country that we can operate from. Literally 99 percent of our customers are within a block radius of our offices...In the Bay Area you walk into a coffee shop, and everyone talks about technology, but it’s always about consumer apps. You go to a bar in New York, and everyone talks about media and advertising, just like randomly in a bar.”

Vipin Goyal, CEO and cofounder of NYC-centric activity discovery platform SideTour
“Our business is New York City. We’re a business all about the people and experiences in the city...Look at the stuff on SideTour. You can learn the art of graffiti with an aerosol artist in Queens who’s been curating [famed street art locale] 5Pointz for years. You can have dinner with an investment banker-turned-monk in an East Village monastery.”

Carter Cleveland, founder and CEO of art discovery platform
“New York is the center of the art world, but it’s also just a great place to start up....A lot of the best schools are on the East Coast and near New York City—my alma mater Princeton is very nearby—so there are plenty of really talented engineers, art historians, you name it, coming out of these schools. But until recently for startups the only option was going out West, but increasingly that’s no longer the case because New York City has so much more to offer than the Valley does in terms of diversity of culture and industries.”

Robby Stein, CEO and cofounder of location-discovery platform Stamped
“Stamped really can only exist in New York. The reason why is what we’re about is recommending and putting your stamp of approval on those things you like the best: restaurants, books, movies and music. As part of that, a really important point for us is building a community around that, and what that means is being able to bring a lot of voices onto the service. A lot of times those are brands or other authorities in the area. We work closely with, for instance, New York magazine, Rolling Stone, Mario Batali, Michael Kors, all very New York personalities that can cultivate their recommended restaurants, books, movies and music.”

Scott Ballantyne, CMO of social shopping company Fab
“The whole idea is basically reinvented social shopping. It’s like walking down SoHo on Greene Street with your friends on Sunday, and you discover something in the shop window. We replicated that in an online experience...The heart and soul of the founders are here in New York, and obviously New York is a big deal for the design environment...New York was just a natural place for us to start, but we’ve got 250 people around the world and 170 of those are in New York.”

May 17, 2012, 5:39 PM EDT

MLB Advanced Media Planning Major Game Initiative This Summer CEO Bowman explains why platforms matter during IAB sitdown

MLB Advanced Media is a quietly powerful force in digital media. Like, really powerful. With some projecting revenue of $500 million in 2012 and clients like NCAA March Madness and even Glen Beck's online venture GBTV, Advanced Media's technology is the gold standard for live Internet broadcasting. President and CEO of MLB Advanced, Bob Bowman discussed the company's strategy for the future and offered his own wisdom about the shifting digital industry today at IAB's Innovation Days event.

Create Great Content and Get it On Every Available Platform

"As important as the ads are, they will never be as important as the content," Bowman told the audience. Bowman mentioned that there are 108 devices and operating system permutations on Apple's platform alone, and another 2,100 for Android. That's means a lot of customization for publishers. But Bowman believes media companies need to innovate at a breakneck pace or risk total irrelevance. "If you are a brand you want to be in front of people you have to go from Web to wireless, to social and then to the newest frontier: gaming," he said.

MLB Advanced Media Announces A 'Huge Gaming Business This Summer'

Almost on cue, Bowman told the crowd that MLB Advanced Media is delving into the gaming world to get their technology in front of a younger, more engaged demographic. Bowman announced only that the foray into gaming would be "huge" but said nothing more of it. Details should be emerging sooner than later, though.

We Don't Know How To Measure This Stuff

Bowman called attention to the difficulty of uniformly measuring audiences online. "The way we measure engagement and audience over all of these screens, some of which are on at the same time, is a real mess," Bowman noted.

Cordcutting And The Future

"The new generation will not cut the cord, they will never even plug it in," Bowman teased near the end of the talk. Yet, he doesn't see a future as a barren place for cable companies as there is great overlap between internet providers and cable companies. He noted that the transition though away from cable will have to take time and have the right processes in place. "Going straight from cable to an a la carte system would be problematic," he said.


In a follow-up conversation via phone, Bowman spoke to Adweek to further address the issue of the future and cable's role. He told Adweek "We believe that cable is a valuable partner, especially for baseball and we and many other ventures and have interests in becoming partners in large supply," he said. With respect to cable's role, Bowman continued to explain that he sees any a la carte system of programming as a difficult sell, especially right now. "consumers like the current bundles," Bowman said. "There is no evidence right now that consumers want an all a la carte system."

May 17, 2012, 5:31 PM EDT

Flipboard's Quittner Talks About Role, Explains Ad Platform 'We don't call ourselves an aggregator—it's a dirty word.'

If you have an iPad or tablet device, chances are you've seen the Web through the glossy world of Flipboard. If you've ever taken the "social magazine" for a spin, you might know that while the user experience is silky smooth, the company has had to address concerns about the service's threat to traditional journalism and even cases in some cases, legality. At the IAB Innovation Days conference this morning, Flipboard editorial director Josh Quittner shed some light on Flipboard's role in the journalistic realm and how it plans to serve ads to their users.

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May 16, 2012, 7:59 PM EDT

Oh, the Humanity! When Brands Become Publishers Social publishers urge brands to be 'more human'

The banner ad appears to be on life support. Or at least that is what social publishers are trying to convince audiences and advertisers at every available opportunity. Nick Denton made news on the topic last week, and the discussion of brands' evolving role as publishers has saturated a good deal of the social conversation throughout the first two days of Internet Week.

According to the social publishing experts on a panel, moderated by Digitas' Jordan Bitterman, the shift to brands as publishers is, above all else, a step toward re-humanizing advertising and developing emotional connections with content. BuzzFeed president Jon Steinberg said that social publishing forces brands to use a "lighter touch" and "love the user," claiming that he's see loads of statistics to support that claim.

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May 15, 2012, 9:05 PM EDT

Facebook Moving Toward an Ad Network? Sure Seems Like It Company's recent policy changes stir speculation

Last Friday Facebook announced it was making changes to its data use policy. The company has posted a document online that lays out the full gamut of additions and deletions it will be making, but one change making headlines is that Facebook will be able to show ads on other sites with or without social context, such as whether a user’s friends have liked a brand or the ad.

Currently the company's policy states that Facebook would only serve ads on external sites with social context, so removing that context as a requirement would theoretically allow Facebook to target ads anywhere on the Web using its users' Facebook profile data, such as likes or other interests to target ads.

But David Rollo, chief strategy officer at social ad firm Blinq Media, seemed to believe that Facebook must have plans to expand its ad purview at a OMMA Social panel on Tuesday. “Now Facebook’s privacy policy says that they can take all of the information off your social graph and leverage that with targeting off Facebook,” he said.

The logical evolution of this change—and one that reporters have already jumped on—is that it paves the way for Facebook’s version of the Google Display Network. But Facebook will face privacy challenges in launching that network, and for the very reason that Rollo eyes the policy change as a win for ad targeting.

“When you combine that with third party [data], now you’re starting to get that composite that isn’t going to serve you a Dora the Explorer ad when you’re registering for your marathon,” Rollo said.

The flip side is that folks, especially the Federal Trade Commission, might not be so psyched about Facebook data being tied, directly or indirectly, with third-party data for ad targeting. John Montgomery, COO of GroupM Interaction North America, said during the panel that a “huge amount of communication and education needs to be done” explaining to users why their data is being collected and how it’s being used.

The privacy changes have yet to be implemented, so it remains to be seen how that data could be connected or whether Facebook would establish some mechanism or set of rules that would govern how or if third parties could collect the Facebook data, or what cookies could be used on sites that target ads using the Facebook data.

Assuming Facebook’s learned its lesson from the Beacon debacle over linking user data with advertising, then advertisers should be enthused, said Chris Emme, audience data platform RadiumOne’s East Coast sales director. “If I like Pepsi [on Facebook], it makes sense that I’m served with Pepsi Summer Concert Series ads [outside of Facebook] when I’m consuming entertainment content,” he said.

UPDATE: On Tuesday, a few hours after his panel appearance, such speculation could all be for naught. Later in the day, Blinq's Rollo reached out to Adweek to retract some of his statements, saying he does not actually believe that Facebook plans to combine first- and third-party data. Rollo also said he regreted the Dora The Explorer targeting analogy.


May 15, 2012, 4:59 PM EDT

'NYT' Duo of Carr and Stelter Discuss Media Landscape Crowd told to 'always be iterating'

David Carr and Brian Stelter know how to put on a good show. Going for a little more than an hour, the Riggs and Murtaugh buddy duo from the Gray Lady entertained audiences at Internet Week with an oft-insightful conversation about all things media. Here are some highlights from the keynote.

Print Still Moves the Needle

Sure, we can wax poetic about the Web and the wonders of social publishing, but few of us straddle the worlds of powerful print circulation and Web content like journalists at The New York Times. According to both Carr and Stelter, nothing still drives name recognition and news cycles like a piece in the print edition of the paper—and brands and companies seem to agree. "Companies still try to make an event around news," Stelter told the crowd. "They desperately want stories in print to keep momentum of an event moving."

Speed Freaks

Stelter, one of the fastest metabolizers and producers of content around, told the audience that it is hard not to get caught up in the world of microscoops and quick news breaks. "I keep telling myself not to care about the microscoops," he noted with a hint of exasperation. Carr, the veteran, seemed less concerned. "Consumers don't even know where the news came from," he argued. "Scoops are fleeting points of pride for the reporters only. The race to be first, especially in commodity news, is not nutritiously advantageous to readers."

'Twitter Is a Chatroom for Reporters'

Stelter and Carr both cautioned that the Twitter echo chamber exists, much of the time, in an alternate reality. "Don't mistake Twitter heat for real heat," Carr said. "There is a coastal bias. Twitter cares about Twitter." Stelter, who essentially lives on the social network, characterized it as "a chatroom for reporters." 

Credibility Matters

Writing with Web metrics in mind is a part of the job description for any working journalist today. That said, Carr notes that writing for Twitter shares or SEO purposes is a dangerous game and a process he called "a little bit corrosive and damaging." The discussion led to the issue of credibility and the importance of providing a quality service with respect to a particular beat. Both reporters noted that while sites like Gawker can provide a good, entertaining service and oftentimes beat the original source in pageviews, nothing can replicate the opted-in body of paying subscribers. If we're seeing one theme here in the media presentations at Internet Week it is this: Cherish all readers, take them any way you can get them, but there is nothing more critical and sacred than the paid subscriber.

An Eye to the Future

"The lesson of the Web is to iterate, iterate, iterate," Carr told the crowd. He urged journalists to "give it a whirl" and adapt to the tools of the Web. Of the future, Carr speculated that navigation is the primary concern for those who develop and shape technology. "The problems with navigation in the current Web and TV models is all that is keeping the old system in place," he said. 

May 15, 2012, 11:56 AM EDT

Facebook IPO Colors Internet Week Diller down, ecosystem up on the stock

For the most part, conference sessions can be canned affairs. But, for the most part, that’s not the case when Barry Diller’s onstage. It may be that the IAC chairman and senior executive is at such a point in his career where he doesn’t need to heed talking points and can instead speak honestly. Regardless the reason, he does.

On the stage during Federated Media’s Conversational Marketing Summit on Monday afternoon, Federated’s founder and executive chairman John Battelle asked Diller for his thoughts on the Facebook IPO. “I wouldn’t pay attention to [the stock] for several years,” said Diller.

Of course not everyone plans to take Diller’s wait-and-wait-and-see approach, particularly those at companies in the Facebook ecosystem. The Facebook Era author Clara Shih runs one such company as founder and CEO of social marketing firm Hearsay Social and said that she expects the IPO to benefit the ecosystem of companies that have built up around Facebook. After Facebook initially filed to go public in February, Shih said calls started flooding into Hearsay Social.

With Facebook going public on Friday, companies in the ecosystem have used the lead-up weeks to announce new products, platform updates, etc., and Internet Week will only see an acceleration of that. Today Buddy Media, one of the ecosystem’s most high-profile companies, joins that fray, and two of its announcements seek to answer a couple of criticisms Facebook has been hearing from Madison Avenue regarding measurement and mobile.

Buddy Media announced the ability to track conversions so that advertisers can see which of several posts linking to a Buddy Media social application led to which video views or contest entries. And while Facebook has admitted to struggles with monetizing mobile, Buddy Media has readied a mobile social app platform that will let brands run polls, product or photo galleries and video for users on mobile devices.

But perhaps the most interesting of Buddy Media’s announcement slate doesn’t have to do with Facebook. The company will be adding Pinterest capabilities that will let brands take content posted to Pinterest and run it on other properties such as their Facebook page or website. Arts and crafts retailer Michaels Stores has been testing the feature.

May 15, 2012, 7:39 AM EDT

Yahoo Banks on Its Data With Genome Audience Platform First-party data trumps third party, says panel

Headlining Scott Thompson's legacy at Yahoo will probably be the swirl of events that led to his departure after only four months as CEO (though his resume may say otherwise). But, based on his two quarterly earnings calls with investors, Thompson aimed to stake his legacy on leveraging Yahoo's data. And it appears as though the company plans to carry out those plans.

On Monday the company announced its Genome audience buying platform. Speaking at a company event that kicked off Internet Week in New York, Yahoo's evp of Americas Rich Riley said the platform stems from the display advertising partnership Yahoo entered with AOL and Microsoft last year, as well as the company's acquisition of data-crunching ad tech firm Interclick, which closed in December.

Genome won't go live until July, but it seems to function like most platforms that dig through data to sift out audience profiles. Except Genome has access to Yahoo's first-party data, such as account registrations, search queries and interests inferred through behavioral tracking.

The platform also factors in an advertiser's own data and third-party data from 25 outside sources, but Yahoo's positioning its own data as a primary selling point (that data was something Thompson frequently emphasized during his short CEO tour). And based on the Internet Week panel following Yahoo's announcement, that's the angle Yahoo should be taking. For the panel lingering on the topic of data quality, the consensus seemed to be that a lot of the data cycling through the LUMAscape chart is weak.

Not all of it, of course, but enough for Tim Suther, chief marketing and strategy officer at marketing services provider Acxiom, to say that "data quality often gets short shrift." Sean Muzzy from Neo@Ogilvy said third-party data "might be good [for] framing audience profiles" but that it "might be the least important variable" when it comes to actually buying media.

Michele Morelli, an svp of at Citibank, added that the company doesn't buy third-party data because the benefits don't outweigh the costs. "It's more expensive to buy third-party data and do an overlay," she said, than to buy media through a demand-side platform or ad network, which can factor in third-party data that Citibank already has access to.

May 14, 2012, 3:32 PM EDT

Is Online Publishing a Failure From Consumer's Perspective? Old and new publishers compare notes and discuss the future

Substance drives engagement. The banner ad is dead. Those have been hot topics of late in the digital media world and continued to be at Internet Week's Digiday Conference on Monday. In front of a near capacity crowd, Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff and Hearst editorial director of the men's enthusiast group James Meigs compared notes on the changing publishing industry, and what, if anything the old and new guard can learn from each other. Here a few highlights from the talk:

'Not Your Readers'

Meigs drew an important distinction between a print publication's subscribers and Web audience. By and large, Meigs asserted, "the Web audience is broad. They are not your readers; they came to the site for a specific reason." Meigs told the crowd that publications should "cherish" this demographic, but warns that they rarely behave like subscribed readers.

Consumers Don't Love Your Web Experience

Sure, the Internet is the most vital and important force in the current media landscape, but Meigs argued that when it comes to Web experience, there is great room for improvement. "The Web can be seen as a failure from the consumer's perspective," Meigs told the crowd. "People are spending a lot of energy trying to get away from our websites." He's right. Sites like Flipboard exist to unclutter the Web experience. "Just because people fly everywhere doesn't mean we love airlines," Meigs argued.

A New Way for Marketers

Bankoff remarked on an important shift in online publishing—the increasingly popular "second way," where marketers and publishers pair up to create aligned content to enhance a publishing experience. "There is another market which is smaller but richer which seeks to provide premium value to markers by providing excellent content to connect audiences to the advertising message. Publishers are working with those marketers to understand what they want and learn to craft creatives to get their message out in a way that is consistent with the product experience we're creating."

May 14, 2012, 1:54 PM EDT