The Business Times

Strengthening the media ecosystem requires an open approach

Published Fri, Apr 9, 2021 · 05:50 AM

DIGITAL advertising was originally a great democratising force, granting consumers access to quality, free content - news, videos, music and games - and helping to fund newsrooms. Digital's boom in the 1990s and early 2000s, coinciding with the opening-up of Asian economies, brought Asia-Pacific (Apac) audiences unprecedented choice and access to premium content.

While the barriers to creating and accessing content have decreased, the fight for consumer attention, and therefore ad spend, among traditional newsrooms and new premium content players has grown.

Media Partners Asia estimates the average growth of subscription video on demand (SVOD) penetration in Apac at about 120 per cent over five years. All the while, several factors have come into play contributing to substantial unknowns about the future of identity and monetisation.

Platform offerings such as Google and Facebook have become dominant and while they provide solutions, they come at a cost. In aligning with two companies that control the vast majority of digital advertising spending, publishers and advertisers find themselves at the whims of policies and product decisions which often restrict their independence and innovation.

This has recently come to light, whether it be Google's decision not to support any cross-site identifiers or industry-driven identity solutions through its advertising products, or Facebook and Google's recent battle with the Australian government over appropriate publisher compensation for repurposing news content.

OPEN AND EFFICIENT

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The resulting distrust in these platforms felt around the world has caused many publishers and marketers to actively think about alternative ways to understand their customers, activate their data and monetise their assets.

The opportunity for advertisers to take back control over the experiences they want customers or prospects to engage in is becoming more clear, and open, efficient and transparent advertising technology is needed.

While this notion is not new to advertising, to execute holistically it requires brands and media owners to embrace the complexity of the digital ecosystem and cherish the relationship with the consumer.

We believe that collaboration among participants in an open market will challenge the dominance of the walled gardens, create viable scale and keep publishers in good financial shape by providing the simplicity buyers value.

CAPTURING ATTENTION

Still, a major challenge that must be addressed is fragmentation. Viewer attention is increasingly difficult to capture and hold, as consumers access content on a myriad of devices, often flipping fluidly from one screen to another or multiple screens at the same time - India alone has 57 different over-the-top providers competing for attention.

This behaviour is driving convergence in the way people experience advertising, and so we need to introduce a unified option for those who want to reach audiences at scale across devices, platforms and formats.

As a result, technology that not only improves return for buyers and sellers, but also proactively helps consumers manage the costs of subscriptions to the growing pool of online content will come to the forefront as the solution of choice.

Concurrently, such technology will need to account for the increasingly blurred lines between TV and digital, providing an efficient and transparent foundation for cohesive, converged campaigns on the open Internet.

Adopting these new media models that strengthen our media ecosystem, create open markets and ultimately, free up information for audiences again, will allow the Internet to once again be the great democratising force of our society.

This open market approach, which creates both simplicity and variety for content-hungry audiences, will keep publishers in good shape and give advertisers more transparency over their spend, ultimately benefiting all participants.

  • The writer is senior director of market development, Asia-Pacific, at Xandr.

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