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Content is King, But the Smartphone Runs the Kingdom: The View from IAB ALM with Matt Barash

Posted Feb 13, 2015
His Twitter bio simply says “adtech buys my meals and sneakers,” but food and fancy footwear are not the only things that Matt Barash craves.

Our VP of business development is hungry for insights about all things mobile – from consumer relationships with their devices, to the way publishers and advertisers are adapting to that behavior – which is why he was among the hundreds who travelled to Pheonix this week for the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting (IAB ALM). This year, he said the theme of “content and the kingmakers” was a reflection of how audiences are moving from desktops to mobile devices, and the need to rethink the way brand stories are told as a result.

“Traditional publishers now recognize more than ever that the time has come to focus on where their audience is spending the bulk of their time,” he said, referring to smartphones. “Whereas on desktop the conversation is dominated by efforts to increase the yield on display, the most forward-thinking publishers we met were deeply invested in changing the status quo with respect to mobile monetization.”

The Premium Publisher Perspective
But Barash wasn’t the only one walking away from the leadership weekend with that conviction. In a session about the future of audience and devices, New York Times CEO Mark Thompson made one thing very clear:

“Though laptops and tablets will certainly not go away, the war will be won or lost on the smartphone,” he said. 

He also noted that how emerging media companies like Buzzfeed were outperforming the competition through a strong focus on video.

emcpherson_iab_alm_2015Erin McPherson, Chief Content Officer of Maker Studios, lead another session that focused exclusively on video – noting that striking a balance between creating content for “binging” over long periods of time, vs. “snacking” during short breaks was important.  Either way, McPherson contended that all roads lead toward mobile:

“As these smartphones become more sophisticated, I believe we will start to see that audiences will watch content of all lengths on any platform.” 

But Barash was quick to add that none of these changes mean that brands and advertisers can ignore the power of storytelling – in fact, the rise of mobile and video means it becomes an even bigger priority.

“Many publishers in the premium space are focused on creating world-class content,” he said, suggesting that the next step is making sure you think through how you work with technology partners to better tell those stories. Firms like AdColony are there, he said, “to not just power their efforts, but to serve as collaborative partners and in a consultative fashion.

You can catch up on a lot more from the conference by checking the IAB’s ALM recap page or session highlights on its YouTube channel.

Photo credit: IAB

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