Op/Ed 2016: Going to the Big Easy to Discuss Hard Topics

Blog   |   Lorne Brown   |   February 8, 2016

Later this week I’ll be traveling to New Orleans for the third year of our publisher summit, Op/Ed. If you know me, then you know it’s no accident that we picked a party town for our big event. This year is going to be bigger than ever, with over 100 publishers and media companies represented. One thing about Op/Ed is that it’s always more than a good excuse to go somewhere warm in the winter. The Op/Ed summit provides a true sell-side-focused environment, where publishers can talk straight about the issues facing our industry.  This time, we’re focusing the event on giving media companies back control of their business in the age of consumer and inventory fragmentation and the subsequent market convergence that follows; topics that are on everyone’s mind as we set our strategies for 2016.

Convergence is real and it’s here. As people start to consume content in new ways, from mobile video-on demand to Facebook Instant Articles, advertisers want to buy media differently. The rigid channel structure that drove both agency buying and publisher sales organizations is starting to break down, and media companies must rebuild their operations and infrastructure to profit in this new environment—from bringing traditional and digital sales together to leveraging new capabilities to sell audiences and content. The fragmentation of audiences that is driving a need to converge business channels is a big factor of change for many publishers. Our research earlier this year shows that TV, digital and print publishers are all starting to resemble one another as they start to create more similar content (particularly video content) that appeals to consumers wherever they are. This increases competition and makes it that much more important for publishers to focus on the bottom line as they make the bold changes necessary to thrive.

With Verizon buying AOL last year – after a number of high-profile acquisitions and investments by Comcast and NBCU – we’ve seen the MSOs make serious moves into digital, and many media companies are readying themselves for a new market where the familiar giants like Google and Facebook are joined by the likes of Verizon, Comcast and AT&T.  That’s why I’m so excited to have Mike Welch, Head of Strategy, Product and Business Development at AT&T AdWorks as our keynote speaker for the event.

As the event progresses, we’ll talk seriously about the changes publishers will need to make to tackle both convergence and fragmentation of their inventory across channels and formats. Changes like prioritizing ad tech, defining strategic areas, streamlining systems and training and empowering sales teams. For some publishers, it might be more lucrative to shift more heavily toward programmatic, while others might cede control of their inventory to a bigger direct sales organization. We’ll look at the pros and cons of all of these scenarios.

One theme that will run through the event is how publishers are managing their “yield curve,” or the revenue they earn from each segment of their overall advertising business.  While some publishers are thriving, every company is grappling with escalating costs, technical complexity and a lot of uncertainty about the future.  We’ll talk about how the yield curve will change as channels merge.  During our expert panels we’ll look at strategic and tactical ways publishers can become more profitable in the face of convergence, and where Operative can help, from investing in technology that improves operations to optimizing programmatic RTB, to even coordinating media buys with one another in a premium marketplace.

I hope to see you there!