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Hamish McPharlin
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Advertisers 'lag' behind publishers in creating responsive design experiences, says CNN International Digital VP Peter Bale

Advertisers are not developing responsive design-based experiences fast enough to keep pace with publishers' need to meet demand for mobile media consumption, according to CNN International Digital vice president and general manager Peter Bale.

Speaking at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Bale said there is a “lag” when it comes to developing responsive design-based ad experiences, which is a challenge for publishers.

“The ad industry has not fully come down the pipe yet in terms of responsively designed ads that will particularly work to the same level of monetisation on any device – there is a lag there," he said.

"We have to move ahead of that and that’s very difficult.”

CNN International, whose first responsively designed site outside of the US was for its Arabic service - is seeing mobile traffic soar, with nearly half of its entire content consumption made via mobile devices for the Arabic site.

Yet he said that the rise in responsive design could put pressure on publishers’ native apps to ensure they provide an “incredibly rich” and “more powerful” experience, becoming a strong addition to the responsive site. “We are looking to cross that bridge,” he added.

Although other publishers, such as the Financial Times, are beginning to see more revenue come from subscriptions than advertising, Bale said advertising remains CNN International’s primary business model.

“There is still a tremendous amount to be done in advertising or advertising-like products. We have a substantial ‘specials’ business which is sponsored editorial content – which I’m proud of as it keeps the line very effectively between church and state – but offers very engaging, powerful experiences that happen to be sponsored and which are made possible by that.”

The broadcaster is also exploring native advertising opportunities, although Bale remains wary regarding the evolution of this format.

“I have nervousness about native advertising and the extent of the voice it gives to the advertisers over content flow, but I think we can look at it intelligently,” he added.

Bale also stressed the point that publishers should not stand still but focus on areas like using meta data to help better understand their audience behaviours and unlock multiplatform opportunities.

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