Industry Leaders Reflect on 2017

December 7, 2017

Executives from News Media Alliance, Connectiv, Mobile Marketing Association and more share insights on what they learned and accomplished in 2017.

Kammi Altig, Communications Manager

With only a few weeks left in 2017, we invited leaders from around the media industry to share their thoughts on the year, including accomplishments, lessons learned and most influential people. Some of our interviewees included:

Common themes of the interviews included a revived interest in quality journalism, growing concerns over ad fraud and the value of transparency, and building honest relationships with business partners. Here’s what they had to say in their own words:


AAM: What was the most important lesson learned by the media industry in 2017?

Michael Marchesano with Connectiv/AM&P: The media industry has realized that the biggest threat is no longer the publisher they’ve been battling for ad dollars year after year. The real threats are larger and more existential. It’s ad dollars disappearing into the duopoly. It’s advertisers taking their dollars and content marketing executions in house. It’s ad fraud (most publishers believe ad fraud hasn’t touched them, when it probably has). It’s the way content is valued (or devalued) online. It’s having a culture that can’t respond quick enough or is too afraid to fail. Most importantly for b2b, it’s new ways that buyers and sellers are connecting.

Ultimately, b2b is about connecting buyers and sellers. That still holds true, but who the buyers and sellers are, and how they are being connected, is changing dramatically. The companies that will succeed are the ones that can facilitate those new connections in new ways.

Derek LackeyDerek Lackey with Newport Thomson and Direct Marketing Association of Canada: Transparency is critical. Agencies broke the cardinal rule of transparency regarding their fees and revenue sources. Somehow, today’s agency thought they could keep up to half of the digital media dollar invested and ignore that web publishers were serving up fake clicks via bots. This breaches the trust between client and agency and may well be criminal (as in fraud). If the industry does not police this, the governments around the world are happy to step in with new regulations—just look around at email marketing and data practices. This is our mess, let’s clean it up quickly. 

Pedro Silva with IFABC: Cheap digital advertising may be worse than just losing the money spent. It may also jeopardize other investments that depend on effective advertising. 

Leo ScullinLeo Scullin with Mobile Marketing Association: Ad fraud is real and needs more attention.

John Murray with News Media Alliance: There is a demand for quality journalism and credibility. It is more a reminder of the industry’s unique ability than a lesson learned. This demand provides a unique positioning platform among competitors and justifies the investment by the advertising community. It is the same logic that print salespeople relied on decades ago and this year, with the surge of consumers willing to pay for quality news sources, it is a fundamental message that can be delivered again.


AAM: What did the media industry accomplish in 2017?

John MurrayJohn Murray: The news media industry made considerable progress on many fronts, such as diversifying the revenue base, improving operating efficiencies and enhancing digital offerings to their communities. The bar has been raised among individual news media companies in marketing digital-exclusive subscriptions and expanding the growth of mobile usage beyond the millennial market.

Leo Scullin: The media industry proved that journalism is alive and well and that the free press is essential to democracy.

Michael MarchesanoMichael Marchesano: In b2b media, companies are taking steps to control their own fate again. They are taking control of their audience data. In many ways, b2b media companies are better suited to take advantage of their audience data than consumer media.

They’re going on offense. For several years, b2b publishers have been the victim of other sources capturing their audience data or even monetizing ads on the publisher’s site. Now publishers are learning that their reach goes beyond their own sites. They’re mining social media to build out their audiences and they’re getting over their knee-jerk reaction to programmatic as a race to the bottom and leveraging programmatic to monetize ads not just on their own sites but on other sites as well. 

They’re bringing in talent to help chart a new path. Companies have been talking about the value of data scientists in recent years and in 2017 there were several b2b companies who brought in data scientists that found the value was even broader than they anticipated. They’re helping not just in terms of analytics or identifying market data that can be monetized but they’re reshaping the way that both advertising and content products are sold. 


AAM: Name one of the most influential people in media. Why is this person influential?

Derek Lackey: Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at P&G took a clear stand on the digital fraud issues. He showed guts and persistence. He did the right thing rather than just going with the flow.

Leo Scullin: Mike Allen, co-founder of Axios. Axios is the sharpest and most trustworthy new source for news.

Pedro SilvaPedro Silva: Marc Pritchard, ANA chairman and CMO at P&G. He took the leadership of saying what many had avoided in the past and, more importantly, he acted. Money talks, but one has to make money walk the talk, putting two sayings together.

Michael Marchesano: Rajeev Kapur, CEO of 1105 Media. Rajeev previously served as an executive with Dell and as head of digital startups such as SmartHome. He is a great example of someone from outside the industry who has brought a new way of thinking to media, as well as a new emphasis on innovation. As Rajeev says, companies get in trouble not for doing the wrong thing but for doing the right thing for too long. He tasked his team to create a new lead gen model that delivers not just names but intent and predictive-based leads with high probability of purchase without need for telemarketing and databases. In 2017, 1105 Media won a Connectiv Innovation Award for the launch of Prophyts, a predictive account based marketing company that enables companies to reach potential buyers early in their journey.  


Next month, we’ll revisit our interviewees and hear their predictions for 2018.

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