The publishing industry has undergone a tremendous period of disruption over the past few years. However, with that disruption comes opportunities to understand audiences through first-party data. In this ‘Passionate About Publishing’ series, we highlight the people driving forward the revolutionary and ever-changing field of advertising, sharing perspectives from around the globe.
Tell us about yourself and your current role.
I’m the COO of Publisher Collective. Publisher Collective is a publishing/advertising network that helps gaming and entertainment publishers to monetize their websites and grow their traffic. My role as a COO is to oversee the partnership development with publishers who join our network from operations and account management to product development for advertising and monetization.
What has been the biggest game-changer for publishers in the last decade?
To me, the biggest game changer has been the multiple tactics companies use to get human attention – because getting human attention equals monetization. We’ve seen that publishers, game producers, or app developers use various strategies to get the attention of users all the time.
I think it will be finding the good balance between users wanting more protection and the digital industry wanting to increase its revenue. Consumers use plenty of devices, not just websites or apps for their shopping experience, and at the same time they want their data to be private or, very often, they don’t want to be disturbed by ads. At the same time, the digital ecosystem tries to generate more revenue from these same consumers.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge or game-changer in the next decade?
Essentially, users have the ultimate power to decide whether they want to continue to visit this website or use this app or not. So the biggest challenge for publishers is to find that balance between monetizing the user experience and providing some value to the users so that they make it worthwhile for the users to stay.
What are your thoughts about cookieless advertising?
For a company such as Publisher Collective, that focuses on gaming and entertainment, it can be really challenging because we fully rely on cookies to give us more information about our users. Other publishers, like news publishers, could have a different view because they can set up contextual offerings thanks to the various sections on their websites.
But overall, I think it is a very positive change because it encourages publishers to “look outside the box” and say: “how do I do more to measure and understand the environment that I provide to advertisers, and how is my brand valuable?” It also encourages the marketers to reach out to the publishers more because the intermediary that is the cookie will not be there anymore. So it really encourages conversation from both sides.
What do you think is the most exciting technology in digital advertising right now?
Being able to set up customer relationship management (CRM) is pretty exciting for any company that has a strong backend system and, potentially, it can have a big effect on the industry as a whole. From my point of view, whoever holds the data can try to sway the business to their advantage.
For publishers like Publisher Collective, it can be really exciting, because we don’t have a lot of logged in or user data, so we have to try and find ways to create a strong value exchange to obtain this data. We want to encourage people to come to see our content and engage with us regularly, ideally making them want to share their information with us.
Can you share a couple of insights gained from this transformational time in adtech, and with them in mind, what do you think are going to be some key trends in the next year?
What I see a lot, especially in gaming, is the fact that the younger generation is using tools differently compared to Baby Boomers or even Gen Z. Gamers are engaging in websites, downloading mods, which allow you to play in the game in a better way, or various kinds of applications or tools online to improve your game play or engage with various gamers in the gaming world. We also have so many users who just spend time in games and never engage on social media, nor CTV, and do not watch anything. All they do is spend 4, 5, 6 or even 7 hours playing every single day. And I am not talking about the metaverse that is still way ahead and very uncertain.
So I think one of the key trends in the next year or couple of years is how advertising works or how we access users when they are not in a traditional platform like a website or an app.
The challenge for us is how we make sure that we can reach those users in a non-conventional environment. Because if advertising wants to survive, it has to be in the place where people spend time rather than in the place where you have the most infrastructure in place.
What made you start working with Quantcast, and what Quantcast solutions have been most beneficial to you?
We have a very clear vertical about gaming and entertainment and we wanted to go beyond, so we decided to use Quantcast’s publisher tools. The most beneficial aspect for us is to be able to understand our audience using the Quantcast technology, especially metrics like demographics, interests, and how it compares in each market. It’s really good because, normally, we can’t get this kind of information from any other contextual tool or browser. Quantcast definitely gives us a very different dimension that can influence our future strategy.
Indeed, if we discover that our audience may be interested in areas that we never really thought about, we can expand on using those insights and develop our offering.
And the fact that Quantcast has authority in the industry makes it convincing because people can trust that data. So it works two ways: it influences publishing but also advertising and monetization as well.
The Quantcast Query (a rapid-fire Q&A)
Who is your role model–in the industry or otherwise?
It’s Carla Harris, a black woman who has been working in the finance industry for 30 years and is now at Morgan Stanley. And the reason why she’s amazing is because she really encourages people from various backgrounds to take a more active role and some leadership. So it’s about empowering women and people from various backgrounds.
What is the best and worst piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?
The best piece of advice is not about making the right choice; it’s about making a choice and doing your best to execute on it and get the best outcome possible. The worst piece of advice was “smile more.”
Finish the sentence: To me, publishing is…
…everywhere and it has lots of influence on our lives. It ranges from changing your diet to changing the economy and politics. And also: publishing is everyone because everyone has a tool and platform to publish content now. So publishing continues to evolve everywhere, anytime; it is done by anyone and is about everything!
If you missed the first interview in this new series, check out our interview with Danny Zarek (EMEA), Revenue and Product Manager at The Times of Israel. You can also read our measurement series for publishers: How Publishers Can Leverage First-Party Data to Drive Advertiser Relationships and Understanding Your Online Audience in New and Powerful Ways.