FML Blog

In the run-up to the Future Media Lab.’s next workshop— which will take place as part of the Digital Innovators’ Summit, 25 March 2014 in Berlin — we sat down with the Audra Martin, Vice President Digital Advertising at the Economist, to discuss how social media impacts advertising strategies, the need to extend the relationship between publisher and reader to online social spaces, and how the continued rise of mobile alters consumers' expectations and behaviours.

Martin will be one of the expert speakers at the workshop, which also includes presentations from Marcel Boulogne (European Commission), Joelle Frijters (Improve Digital), Bernard Cools (Space) and Daniel Knapp (IHS Technology).

FML: Future Media Lab.
AM: Audra Martin

FML: How do you see the innovations in social media impacting media advertising?


AM: Digital advertising in general is getting more and more sophisticated. The use of data makes targeting more precise and programmatic trading is making buying more efficient. Some of the other things that make advertising more effective are content and environment and social media plays well for both. While content in a publisher's context (with a community of other readers) is still very valuable, some experiences are naturally suited to personal social network, such as second-screen experience. Additionally, less and less of social media in a set place, and the personalisation they offer extends beyond Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google. You can see this with Google's single ID linking across e-mail, G+, YouTube, and maps, as well as Facebook's launch of the Open Graph api and their introduction of Facebook Paper. As data from social media powers more off-site utilities, advertisers can reach their audience more effectively in more places.

Where social media has been less innovative has been in ad formats, but that is changing very rapidly.

FML: How has The Economist adapted to these changes?


AM: We've worked very hard to extend the relationship we have with readers into the social spaces--it is an important part of our audience engagement strategy--and have been very fortunate to have a very strong following across all of the major platforms. Part of the success has been down to our social media team working closely with the social channels to understand how things are changing and ensuring we're making the most of those platforms to engage readers with content. We've experimented with posting techniques and tools and very closely monitor audience reaction so we know what works well with readers and what does not. As part of that work, our team evaluates new opportunities, such as unpublished posts, and thinks about how best to use them. Additionally, when we do promote content marketing programmes we're running for clients, we pay close attention to performance and use the data to keep relevancy high and frequency smart.

FML: What are the main technology disruptions/innovations affecting the digital environment?
AM: The big ones are the applications of data (for personalisation, effectiveness, and efficiency) and the continued rise of mobile. People's expectations around personalisation are increasing, I think, due to how much time people are spending in their socially curated spaces. People are also becoming much more aware now, not just passively being observed, but actively managing their online presence and recording their own data for their own use, such as health tracking.

Mobile has been part of that and has also influenced the way people consume content, learn, play, socialise, and relax. While mobile was an afterthought for many just a few years ago, I would venture very little is done now without thinking about mobile first.

FML: What is the role of European politics when it comes to these technology disruptions?
AM: While people are becoming more comfortable in many places with the use and application of data and the primacy of mobile for communication, I think there is still an expectation that government and commercial interests are still held in check by bodies that represent the public's interest. European politics provide a useful dialogue and will continue to be crucial to ensuring the public is represented.
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