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June Is your team ready for the technology of the future 02

Is your team ready for the technology of the future?

Published: 17 Jun 2024

Technology is evolving rapidly, and it likely isn’t an overstatement to suggest that the workplace in ten years’ time will look radically different. At last month’s AOP CRUNCH: AI-volution and the opportunities for digital publishers, it was clear that regardless as to whether you thought AI was a saviour or a destroyer, now is the time to lean in. Experimenting now is the key to remaining ahead of the curve and also to playing a foundational role in shaping how these technologies develop.

However, with the adoption of new technology comes the need for new skills – both to help your team get the most out of the tool you’ve invested in, and to ensure they’re ready for what comes next. We reached out to our Associates to get their thoughts on what publishers should be prioritising to ensure their team have the skills they need to succeed in the years’ ahead.

Foster a culture of continual learning and development.

It's important for publishers to embrace AI and new technologies while fostering a culture of continuous learning internally, equipping teams with the latest skills and best practises to drive results. Publishers should prioritise mapping user journeys to predict consumer interests, and partner with the right platforms for attention measurement solutions to show the value of their audiences and placements to brands. In taking this approach, publishers can deliver more personalised content for their readers and more compelling offering for advertisers.

There’s likely to be resistance to change, but satisfying readers and brands to maintain relevancy and audiences should be the top priority and driving force behind all decisions at this time.

Stephanie Himoff, Executive Vice-President, Global Publishers, Outbrain

Everyone in your team should be an expert in audience data.

In these ever-evolving times, a key factor for success is ensuring that data expertise extends beyond just the data teams. Our walled garden “friends” are making huge leaps in rolling out new functionalities in AI and further rigging the game in their favour. These technological evolutions make it more important than ever to use data to breed loyalty from consumers, readers, brands, agencies, tech partners, and anyone else that helps to drive growth for a publisher. To achieve this, everyone in the business needs to become an expert in audience data.

Understanding who your audience is and what they are like as well-rounded humans, both within and beyond your own environment, can drive business-wide, data-led strategies. Whether it's diversifying the content being created to build stickiness with readers, or demonstrating to non-endemic advertisers why your audience are who their brands need to be in front of, data should be at the heart of all decisions. This approach helps publishers to stay ahead of and help defend against the latest technological threats in the market.

Dave Posnett, Head of Partnerships, Captify

Train your commercial team in storytelling to help advertisers understand new opportunities.

As technology solutions become more sophisticated and complex, it becomes increasingly difficult for publisher commercial teams to understand all the developments, let alone be able to communicate them to their advertisers. But in a time of increased complexity, one of the most valued qualities is that of simplicity. Advertisers don’t want to know how much you know; they just want to know what it means for their brands. What are the benefits? What is working well? What should they do next? Simple, practical solutions are an antidote to complexity.

There’s a big opportunity for publishers to train their commercial teams in storytelling. We work closely with these teams, helping them to understand their brand lift data and turn it into proactive and actionable recommendations. They can then distil their data and use it to advise their advertisers on what has worked and what they should do for their next campaign. Publisher teams who can address the challenge of turning masses of data into a compelling story have a great opportunity to differentiate themselves and become highly valued advisers to their advertisers in future.

Sean Adams, Chief Marketing Officer, Brand Metrics

Provide data literacy training to help your teams articulate the value you offer.

From our conversations with publishers, a priority for them is equipping their sales teams with the skills to effectively leverage audience data and "speak data" as technology continues to open up new opportunities for their advertiser clients. This includes data literacy training to interpret metrics and analytical techniques, data visualisation and storytelling abilities to present complex data compellingly, and audience segmentation expertise, enabling targeted advertising solutions aligned with specific segments.

By mastering data analysis, audience segmentation, and data-driven communication, salespeople can extract meaningful insights, craft compelling narratives about their audiences, and offer highly personalised advertising solutions. This upskilling will empower them to communicate the value of their audiences effectively, driving revenue growth, and positioning themselves as trusted partners in the digital landscape.

George Paton-Williams, Senior Marketing Manager, mediarithmics

Address concerns regarding AI head-on through education.

Publishers should equip teams with the skills they need to analyse and interpret data effectively. Understanding audience behaviour, engagement metrics, and revenue are all crucial for making informed decisions. Diversifying revenue streams is the next step but can’t be done without having a solid understanding of the data first.

On the editorial side, reducing fear and more education about generative AI will become increasingly important. AI can streamline a journalist’s workflow by handling administrative tasks, cutting down research time, and acting as an intelligent assistant. This improved efficiency allows for smarter investigative work, enhanced creativity, and stronger overall output.

Stefan Small, Head of Business Development – UK, EX.CO

Deliver proactively and effectively on media quality expectations.

New tech might be inevitable, but optimising for buyer KPIs is a constant north star. Advertisers and brands value the confidence that high viewability, low fraudulent traffic and brand suitable inventory provides. That value has nowhere to go but up as online audiences become increasingly invested in who earns a brand’s trust and spend.

Empowering your team to deliver on media quality expectations keeps them working proactively on ways to grow your advertising business in the long run. But it’s not enough for publishers to simply say they’re meeting media quality KPIs. They need to be able to show it. That starts with a thorough and teamwide education of the tools that advertisers use — including how their metrics work and the most effective ways to align with them. This will keep you well-positioned to anticipate buyer needs and deliver on them effectively no matter how new solutions might develop down the line.

Anya Libova, Publisher Sales Director – DoubleVerify

Have the confidence to call out technology that over-promises and underdelivers.

As device, publishing and advertising technology continues to evolve at a rate near the speed of light, publishers must remind their teams to be careful that they are not blinded by the application of that technology for its own sake. The shiny new thing is often a mirage. The publishers that plan to thrive in the future must instill in their teams tried and trusted disciplines including the confidence to apply consistently robust, transparent and industry standard data. They must, at the same time and where appropriate, call out as simply ‘noise’ the non-transparent and self-interested data sets of some platforms and other operators in the media space.

Ian Dowds, CEO, UKOM

Partner with experts to plug gaps in your internal skillsets.

Publishers don't need to be experts in every area, and given the constantly changing landscape, it would be virtually impossible. Scaling up large teams, or upskilling existing ones, to manage every scenario related to evolving technology (and its associated legislation) is both impractical and costly for most publishers. Instead, partnering with agnostic ad tech companies which offer a comprehensive platform or solution, and expertise on all critical aspects, can significantly impact publisher success in 2024 and beyond. Internal teams can then decide whether to upskill on the areas that are bringing the most value and bring them in-house, or continue working with the third party as an extension of their team.

James Hanslip, CEO, Content Ignite

Develop, manage, and activate dynamic creative.

From a digital advertising perspective and specifically display formats, there's a big opportunity for publishers to get closer to clients and make ads more relevant and engaging by getting teams to better understand dynamic creative and what DCO really offers. With cookies going away, connecting first party data and contextual signals with dynamic creative to deliver personalised ads is a great way to demonstrate the increasing value of quality inventory and the need to deliver better ads.

Dynamic creative tech doesn’t have to be scary or complicated (though it can easily get that way). Three core skills everyone would benefit from are: (1) Learning how to write down a dynamic strategy - what messaging is going to be seen by who and why. (2) Learning how to manage and activate a dynamic campaign - how are the data signals connected to the ads, what are the creative and reporting considerations. And (3) Learning how to communicate the benefits of blending good quality inventory with the exciting opportunities dynamic creative presents. Gaining knowledge in this area and running dynamic campaigns helps keep the innovation spirit of online ads alive and more often than not makes clients happy too.

Martin Pavey, CEO, IVO

Upskill direct sales teams on buyer first party activation.

Most premium publishers have a first-party data offering in place that allows sales teams to package up valuable audience segments. However, it has been challenging to tap into budgets from brands that are looking to leverage their own first-party data for targeting due to the dominance of the walled gardens and their addressable reach. Publishers with the right technology in place can now compete for these ad budgets by connecting brand data to their own authenticated audiences in a privacy-centric way. Publishers need to ensure sales teams are educated and fully prepped to spearhead conversations with brands looking to leverage their own data for targeting and measurement.

Reza Garroussi, Head of Connectivity & Ecosystem UK, LiveRamp

Master adaptive content strategies.

The social media and SEO landscapes are constantly evolving, and publishers need to adjust strategies accordingly, including mastering SEO practices and tailoring content for diverse social networks. Teams should produce versatile content across formats like video, podcasts, and interactive articles, fostering cross-functional collaboration for enhanced creativity and quality.

All efforts should be driven by data, so publishers should equip their teams with the ability to analyse and interpret data effectively. Prioritising AI and automation is crucial for future media strategies, requiring teams to be well-versed in these technologies to streamline workflows, enhance personalization, and boost content production and distribution efficiency. By focusing on these areas, news publishers can ensure their teams remain agile, innovative, and capable of navigating the complexities of the modern media landscape.

Jason Iliou, Director, Publisher Partnerships, UK & Ireland, Taboola