Publishers Talk Mobile at Mashable Panel

Time Inc., Condé Nast execs stress data use, ad exchanges

"Mobile" was the key word at Advertising Week’s Mashable Innovators seminar today, where Mashable chief strategy officer Adam Ostrow moderated a panel that included Time Inc. group president and chief revenue officer Paul Caine and Condé Nast digital evp Drew Schutte.

While the panelists conceded that it can be difficult to create a great mobile campaign—Brent Vartan, chief strategy officer at Deutsch NY, questioned whether the medium was even ready for the ideas that agencies are trying to implement—they agreed that investment in mobile is clearly paying off. And it’s not just adding to advertising’s bottom line: According to Caine, consumers who read Time Inc. titles on mobile devices are increasingly subscribing to those magazines, generating additional revenue from the consumer side.

Publishers also stressed the importance of leveraging data to increase engagement, whether it’s by partnering with outside data companies or gathering their own. (Schutte said that advertisers are constantly looking to use Condé Nast’s data.) “The magic happens when we use data about consumers to find out who would want specific content,” said Caine. Even banner ads—not the most exciting medium—can become an effective tool when combined with consumer data, said ACXIOM CRO Nada Stirratt. “It will be interesting when we can use data to create 1,000 versions of one banner ad” all targeted at different consumers, she said.

Programmatic buying was another hot subject. Schutte said that Condé Nast has already created its own private ad exchange, limited to the company’s advertisers, and while the technology “isn’t 100 percent ready for prime time, we believe it’s a big part of our future.” Caine said Time Inc. has also launched a similar private exchange, which he said has grown rather than cannibalizing its existing advertising.

Clearly, the publisher’s role has expanded exponentially over the past several years, leading Ostrow to ask the panel how they see the role of the ad agency. “Agencies are more important than ever,” Schutte assured the audience. “You still need agencies to define the core theme and message.”