WebSummit report: Digital Advertising Panel

Now this is a great panel: Google, Skimlinks, WPP, Cheezburger and Reuters on Digital Advertising.

All panels start with a certain amount of positioning among the panellists as they explain where they come from. In Google’s case they are obviously here to talk about contextual mobile advertising and WPP have an interest in investing in internet start ups that represent the future of digital marketing.

Skimlinks are a native advertising specialist (that’s advertising that is not intrusive to the user experience) which takes a bit of explaining to those not familiar to the concept. They offer Gawker as an example – a leader in this space, doing a lot of branded content and also affiliate marketing based on content designed specifically for user’s interest. Key is to do it sensitively, putting content in front of users in a way that doesn’t corrupt the editorial process.

Meanwhile, Cheezburger is a lot less subtle. They are responsible for a huge amount of the interent memes out in the wild, and their expertise is in kittens virality. The irony is that ideas that go viral become commodities, as soon as one person has it, everyone has it, so they are also looking at how to monetise the ideas that don’t go viral.

A question to the panel on how the cookie legislation is affecting their business is a bit of a non starter, since the consensus is that without cookies, the internet doesn’t work. Cheezburger has found that removing cookies has put power in the hands of publishers, and Skimlinks are a little worried that the more products they build, even on first party data, the more difficult it will be to unpick any cookie legislation.

Another question: what will be the impact of internet TV?. ‘Don’t tell me TV is dead!’ says WPP. TV is in fact forecast to grow whereas print media is going to be contracting as an advertising medium. Which I think we could all see coming. In terms of people watching, ads are in fact growing, and ads on the internet are more difficult to avoid than those on TV. Coupled with the opportunities that mobile offers to pitch advertisements to people on the road, this means an avalanche of advertising competing for our attention.

It’s complicated. And developing a science for analysing this world is going to take a while. The devices are independent and until they start to merge producing an integrated report on the impact of advertising is going to be a significant problem. Or opportunity, if you are of an entrepreneurial frame of mind, so get coding, people.