Media Publishing Adtech

Time for a MediaSlap? Andy Oakes on making sense of the challenges and opportunities facing publishers

By Andy Oakes | MD and Founder

March 17, 2015 | 5 min read

It was one of those moments that has sounded better in my head than out loud. I gazed up at the 350 adtech vendors at the IAB Real Time Advertising event at the British Museum and realised I had offended nearly everybody in the room with my remark.

The Drum's Andy Oakes

All I had said was that if I was told by another adtech vendor that "their offering was unique then I would poke them in the eye with a big stick". And thus it came to pass I was dropped off 350 Christmas card lists almost instantaneously.

Publishers have never been the fastest movers and we are full of anxiety. From the late nineties to the early noughties we worried about the impact of this digital thing. We were pretty sure it wasn’t going to do our print business much good. Then, after we had fully embraced the web along came mobile. So now we had to worry about apps. But then we didn’t as we then worried about responsive designs. And then we worried about iPhones. And then Andoid phones, and then god help us tablets. And we worried about everything as decided if we should stick up a paywall, take registrations, offer metered access or any one of a plethora of options.

What we didn’t realise was that we lived in a golden era. One issue at a time was easy to deal with, we took our time, made our (occasionally ponderous) move and got on with it. Happy days.

If only it could be so simple again. A quick glance down the inbox reveals emails from SSPs, native platforms, native ad networks, video platforms, mobile ad platforms, DMPS and a host of others. Each of them claiming to be unique.

I’ve just returned from a trip to New York where we have recently opened an office. I spent a lot of time talking to the adtech community out there, all of whom spend a lot of time talking to publishers. It seems that our friends over the Atlantic look at things in a different way. They know that their product is pretty much the same as many other providers and that doesn’t bother them. The way they like to differentiate is quality of product, quality of service and explaining clearly and confidently what they offer and this is pretty refreshing.

What the industry needs is a few more real experts. People to guide us publishers through the vast amounts of options open to us and the steps we need to take before we embark on a journey to data delights, an adtech paradise where companies tell you what they can do for you without resorting to three letter acronyms.

Which is pretty much why I thought we should set up MediaSlap, The Drum's first event for the media business. I wanted an event I’d actually go to, that’s was useful to me and my colleagues. I wanted to know what my pals in the US were up to so we invited some of the most innovative publishers from there, USA Today and Vox, to come and speak. I wanted to hear from the best of the new breed of publishers so we asked Dazed, Buzzfeed and TCO to speak.

But I also know that the big guys still know a thing or two so I was really pleased when the FT, the Guardian and News UK came onboard. And as I’m always hearing about brands becoming publishers we had to get Asos in. Throw in some of the sharpest minds from media agencies and I think that even somebody as perpetually worried and anxious as me will learn something.

Find out more about Media Slap and book your place here.

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