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Publishing in an automated world

03 Nov 2015  |  Bill Swanson 
Publishing in an automated world

PubMatic's Bill Swanson explores the growing challenges for publishers in a programmatic world.

There is no arguing we are living in a digital age and for most publishers, the last decade has been one of unprecedented change and upheaval. The rapid proliferation of advertising formats, channels and the evolution to a real-time advertising sales market has changed publishing in ways that even the industry's smartest minds could never have predicted.

While the core fundamental components of the publishing world of consumer, content and connections have remained intact, the means and skills required to manage this have changed completely. The revenue opportunity of delivering real-time ads is clear; however, it can only truly be realised with automation which means publishers must adapt their ways of working.

Talent to look for in the new digital landscape

Digital has unmistakably transformed the world of publishing and the way in which publishers need to produce and deliver content. Not only in terms of speed; moving from a day-to-day to an hour-to-hour basis, but also how they produce and place content across platforms, understanding how to use different channels to tailor content strategies and the quality of the content itself.

In order to deliver the right advertising content the way in which audiences have come to expect and, as a consequence, to maximise the digital revenue, the publishing industry must re-think what it looks for in the 'ideal employee'.

The world of content marketing and how publishers are driving traffic to and from a site uses different skill sets, as each individual channel requires tailored content. Publishers must understand that they need a range of different professionals who are able to write the editorial content, but also those who are able to understand what content should be produced for which platform and how it is reaching the desired audiences.

For example, a consumer will expect different content when they are on mobile versus when they are on desktop. In addition, content appropriate for LinkedIn might not be appropriate for Twitter and Facebook and vice versa. Each channel and device sees success with varying types of content and demographics and publishers need to understand these trends and tendencies inside and out.

The salesman in a programmatic future

The desired professionals with the skill set that publishers require have only been in the programmatic space for six to seven years. Talent is limited and in high demand. To combat this, publishers need to look across sectors for the talent that has transferable skills enabling them to digest and analyse the data that provides the lucrative insight for publishers.

Such skills can be found from talent in sectors such as financial services, who, according to Forrester's real-time analytics report, have been using real-time analytics data since 2008 to make informed decisions in the stock market.

It is by hiring professionals with these transferable skills that will enable them to transform the data into useful information that they can use to improve audience targeting and user-experience.

Moreover, publishers need to focus their efforts on upskilling their current talent as we see the shift move towards a more technological publishing landscape in order to nurture current employees, developing them into the sought after talent that publishers require to remain competitive.

Knowing who to hire is not the only challenge when it comes to finding people with the right skills."

No longer are publishers herding the sales teams and ramping the troops who are going to market. The necessity of programmatic has created a new species, a new era of specialists able to utilise technology and digest the quantitative data analysis and translate it to support the entire publisher team through this digital transition.

From a sales perspective, personal relationships are still key. Trust, rapport, flexibility and communication will always be the fundamentals of a service industry, but now so is the ability to use data sets to identify opportunities through analytics.

A core skill is the ability to demystify technical terminology when speaking to people from a non-tech background. The 'new breed' of employee needs to make programmatic easy to understand in order to communicate the benefits of using it and clearly showing the impact has.

The view from both sides of the fence

Knowing who to hire is not the only challenge when it comes to finding people with the right skills. Due to the sheer pace of change in the industry, the people interviewing them may not have the necessary long-term knowledge to know what 'good' looks like.

We have seen commercial and editorial move away from glossy magazines with subscription statistics as the dominant metric, towards a more technical platform of data and analytics. There is an increasing requirement for CTOs and commercial directors to be increasingly data-savvy and have a holistic view from both sides.

In doing so, it will allow them to become more efficient with having increased visibility of data. Moreover, commercial directors will be able to look at the data as well as the movement of money and interpret both for strategic planning for future campaign objectives.

Additionally, the vast amount of data and analytics we now have access to, provides publishers a whole new understanding of their target consumer and general audience. Publishers need to look for talent that fully grasps the data analysis and will be able to move content in the direction that enables greater and more meaningful connections with consumers.

The answer to this considerable challenge lies in upskilling and cross-skilling across industry in order for publishers to gain the technical aspects now required for their jobs, alongside the traditional editorial and sales skills.

As an industry, publishing needs to ensure that certain people within organisations understand what is needed from modern digital advertising experts. Publishers need to look for professionals who are able to digest and translate the data into the actionable insight that publishers need in order to remain competitive.

Bill Swanson is vice president EMEA at PubMatic.

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