Home  › Marketing › Strategies

Content Is Not King

  |  May 16, 2011   |  Comments   |  

With the rise of the trading desk, online display companies view the audience as king. Here's why.

I am not looking to be provocative but I am sick to death of "Content is King" accepted as fact. I beg to differ; I believe that the Audience is King. So much so, that people will bring their content to your audience for a share of the money your audience is worth.

When we buy ads on a particular type of content, we do so to find an audience we have decided (through research or less scientific means) we wish to target. Content is a means to an end, helping us find audiences to market to.

Although social media has certainly made this relationship between content and audience clearer, on the Internet this has long been the case. We have had webmail and other "applications" on the web virtually forever. They are not content, but they have audiences and people have paid to advertise on them since the beginning of web marketing.

You have Facebook (and MySpace before it) that are just applications. People, the audience, are the content. The content quality argument, suitability of environment, and many other factors we think of when we select destinations for our advertising are out the window. If we can harness the audience, the site's content becomes as irrelevant as content is on Facebook or webmail.

You can buy content. If you have the audience, you can get the content you need on a revenue share basis. There are content exchanges like Mochila that help content find audiences. Marketers now look to social media for distribution of their advertising content. Content may not attract an audience but the value of an audience transcends the content.

People will bring their content to the party. Blog sites, YouTube, Flickr, even Facebook and Twitter are places people bring their content. People who resonate with this content via social or interest groups gain exposure to the content and the content builds within itself an inherent suitability of propose. Even if the production quality is very low or the topic is questionable, it is right for the consuming audience.

Display advertising is in a state of monumental change. As we see the rise of the trading desk, the DSP (demand-side platform), and the DMP (data management platform). The relationship between audience and content is up for serious review. If we can buy the audience we want to on a real-time bidding basis then content takes a back seat.

I am not talking about what blind ad networks were doing for years. I am not talking about contextual targeting and behavioural derivatives thereof. The day is coming very soon (even in Asia) when we can buy our own customer databases or other third-party databases for display ads and not just email. We can find our targets via the uber-reach of the DMPs and hit them with an emotive video ad while we ruthlessly control the frequency.

The future of content is just a question... brand-safe? Or not brand-safe? Every other factor could become irrelevant for a lot of marketers. Like the content-neutral environments of webmail and social networks, we may just see a de-emphasis of the importance of a page's contents.

The short-term future (at least) belongs to the audience. Most online display companies are betting heavily on that fact. Publishers are already feeling the effects in some markets and the storm clouds are gathering. Bring on the rain!

Subscribe to ClickZ Asia to receive your weekly dose of the region's latest trends, tips, and insights straight to your inbox.


Matt Harty

Originally from Australia, Matt has lived in Asia for over 20 years. He started in the Internet in 1997 as the co-founder and employee No. 1 for SpaceAsia Media, the first Pan-Asian ad network founded in Asia. SpaceAsia sold in 2000 to Engage Inc. (CMGi) with Matt staying on after the sale. In 2003, he founded Activ8 Worldwide as a JV with Outblaze Ltd, which handled global media sales for Mail.com, Sanrio Digital (Hello Kitty), the Opera browser, plus a number of other leading brands. After the sale of Activ8's primary assets, Matt took a board director's seat on the Malaysia listed Oriented Media Group Berhad. In 2009, he took a position at News Corporation's FOX Networks as VP, Asia Pacific and Middle East. He is now general manager at Accuen, part of Annalect, Omnicom Media Group's business unit to lead the trading desk in Asia. Connect with Matt on Google+.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!



Featured White Papers

US Consumer Device Preference Report

US Consumer Device Preference Report
Traditionally desktops have shown to convert better than mobile devices however, 2015 might be a tipping point for mobile conversions! Download this report to find why mobile users are more important then ever.

E-Commerce Customer Lifecycle

E-Commerce Customer Lifecycle
Have you ever wondered what factors influence online spending or why shoppers abandon their cart? This data-rich infogram offers actionable insight into creating a more seamless online shopping experience across the multiple devices consumers are using.




  • SEO Specialist
    SEO Specialist (Marcel Digital) - ChicagoSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist   Marcel Digital is an award winning digital marketing...
  • SEO / SEM Manager
    SEO / SEM Manager (CustomInk) - FairfaxAre you a friendly, motivated, and inquisitive individual? Are you a positive, out-going leader? Are you...
  • SEO Analyst
    SEO Analyst (XO Group) - New YorkSEO Analyst @ XO Group About this Job, You and Our Team: The XO Group SEO Team is looking for you, a passionate...