03/08/2012 05:49 pm ET Updated May 08, 2012

Digital Publishers Grabbing New Ad Share by Knowing Their Own Audience

Knowledge Is Power in Gleaning First Party Data

In 12-step recovery programs, the first step is to "admit we are powerless" over our digital publishing foibles. It seems publishers have "reached a bottom" and are now fully in recovery. Or in rehab at least as the digital showcase called AlwaysOn proved in New York last week.

Bloggers like me, with journalism degrees and affinity for social media and reporters, love talking about the future of digital and online journals. Another analogy is "physician heal thyself!"

Media patron Tony Perkins, editor of OnMedia, hosted a great investor and publisher event to look at new revenue streams and business models in digital that will make sense.

His advice for media publishers:

1. People want more personalization
2. Digital publishers must have an ability to stay connected and bring like-minded peers together
3. Personalization requires more information about your audience
4. Social analytics is finally here. Media networks will have to know more about readers to share and sell to relevant products

My favorite speakers are always the curmudgeons and gadflies at any event. In this case, it is Adkeeper. At the digital media conference, Scott Kurnit stole the show. "Are we so pitiful as an industry we cannot do anything right?" asked Kurnit. "We are still using our old IAB studies. Then we cry ourselves to sleep about it." (Not having proper audience insights.)

Kurnit from Adkeeper is a freakin' spot on guy. He exclaims, "targeting isn't social." Kurnit coins phrase "sharing advertising" and proclaims we are not doing social advertising today at all. "Social advertising is coming when I as consumer tell you that I agree" with what you are offering me." This reminds me of Seth Godin's mantra in Permission Marketing.

Kurnit says that search still works because "I agree you can market to me and it invites me" to search for more information. "We now target the wrong advertising at the wrong time -- just like the old days of network TV."

"Algorithms are NOT creative; they are math equations. Creatives take something further... "

Online Media Committing Suicide?

Scott Kurnit is clearly all about trying new technology. He was spot-on about "invitational vs. interruptive" ads for publications like Huff Post. Another hot soundbite is: "it is suicide not to invite people to" see your ad offers.

What RadiumOne said at the AlwaysOn conference also resonated with the crowd." Facebook is a walled-in garden," says Gurbaksh Chahal the CEO of RadiumOne. He also called for a more Dynamic Audience Platform. "A large degree of ad networks (like Google, Bing) are doing an OK job but Facebook brought in a new era of (personal) distribution. There are so many "me too's" out there -- only some will distinguish themselves" and survive.

Chahal also believes Real Time Advertising will become 100 percent of the market approach in coming years:"mobile is going to be an outlier," says RadiumOne and you can create new models, to lead, win.

"The Ad Network Is Dead?"

"Content has to be wedded to e-commerce," says Alan Patricof, the chief exec of Greycroft Partners investments. He is bullish on mobile media content." iPad is now selling more advertising than the I-phone. So content people are becoming more focused on E-commerce than ever," says Patricof of Greycroft Partners.

Corey Leibow, CEO of Crowd Science, and one of the company "ones to watch" award recipients from OnMedia, with a potential to reach $200 million in revenue during the next few years, also said the focus must be permission-based on totally first party views with an understanding of the audience.

"I am going to bet on the campaigns that are doing better than others and gain an increase in revenue via endemic and new audience. Publications can monetize based on that knowledge of the audience." he said.

Leibow also talks about brand consideration by doing a deep dive into the exact high value and targeted audience segments. "CPM can skyrocket" if we pay attention to our own publisher first party data, he suggests. That's music to the ears of the digital publishing industry.

And just what the doctor ordered.