Publishers Create Ad Solutions; Still Don't Talk Tech

The second session of AudienceScience Summit this afternoon is a panel moderated by Quentin George, Chief Digital Officer of Mediabrands.  Panelists include Dave Dickman, SVP of Digital Media Sales from Warner Bros. Television and Barbara Healy, VP of Online and Mobile Fulfillment at Tribune.

 The theme of the panel was intended to address how these publishers manage their audience assets.  But really the primary message I took away was that publishers are focusing on solution sells -- finding ways to sell more high margin offerings -- whatever these happen to be.  I was expecting to hear more specifics about how they are working with publisher optimization solutions, or data management offerings.  But it sounded instead that it was any and all efforts to create unique ad solutions, rather than just impressions.

Two points heard, one good, one bad:

1) Warner Bros talked about an alternative way to think about creative, empowering creatives to build original programming that airs on the Web and allows users to provide input into the plot and production that the program takes.  This approach garnered premium sponsorship (from J&J) and helped creative resources feel a part of (and not irrelevant to) emerging media.

2) That was the good point.  The disappointing point is that technology was not mentioned as a priority by the panel.  I have this theory that as media buying becomes more and more automated and dependent on data, the future of publishers is as technology companies (for example, the largest media company in the world: Google is a technology company at heart).  We've seen internet companies banking on this notion -- that publishers will need more and more technology to be able to serve the evolving interactive marketer: Yahoo!'s APT platform and its newspaper consortium are directed at publishers who can't support internal technology needs. 

But this panel talked about technology as just another part of its operations, and I thought it would be the A-number one priority discussed.  Whether build, buy, or outsource, I expected it to be more amplified in the discussion.