Geoff Ramsey on the most impactful media-tech trends today

eMarketer’s chief innovation officer and co-founder, Geoff Ramsey, was at the Digital Innovators Summit (DIS) earlier this year. We took the opportunity to ask him about the most significant trends that are shaking up the media industry in 2017.

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Located in New York, eMarketer, the subscription-based market research company, was acquired by Axel Springer in June 2016 for US$242m and caters to subscribers across 70 countries worldwide. When the Company’s chief innovation officer and co-founder, Geoff Ramsey, was at the Digital Innovators Summit (DIS) in Berlin earlier this year, we couldn’t resist asking him for brief insight into what he sees as some of the most disruptive and impactful media-tech trends in the industry today. 

Watch the video or read the transcription below.

“Number one: digital disruption is wreaking havoc in every industry across every country in the world,” said Ramsey. “If you look at the top 10 companies as measured by market capitalisation, six out of those 10 are digital companies like Google and Facebook. And what’s important about that is that they are benefiting from network effects, so as more and more devices get connected to the internet they have more and more power, not only in the form of dollars, but also in the form of the data that they are collecting.” 

“Marketing is probably one of the first industries to be disrupted and that’s because marketing and media are essentially text, videos, photos and other things that are easily digitised. The physical world is a little bit harder to do, but we’re already seeing that being disrupted as well – think of Uber and Airbnb as examples.”

We asked Ramsey to give us a frank assessment of the advancements that contemporary media companies could make within digital to help them compete against emerging new media plays. Data and content came back as the two of the most important areas of innovation. 

“We’re needing to be much more sophisticated with our marketing in a digital world. To simplify it as much as I can it really comes down to two factors: Firstly, we need to be better at collecting data across all the different devices. Google and Facebook already do this really well, but all of that data is locked up behind their walled gardens. What publishers need to do is work with advertisers and agencies to try to channel and measure more and more data that goes outside of those walled gardens so that they can provide measurable results to their clients. Then they can seamlessly track consumers across their user journeys.”

“The second factor is nothing to do with data or measurement, it has to do with the content itself. Regular ads like you see on television or you hear on radio, or certainly banner ads, aren’t going to cut it anymore. We need advertising that’s really not advertising. It’s actually content that people inherently welcome, that they are excited to see, that they want to share with other people.”

“What that means is publishers need to work with the agencies and the advertisers to create what I call ‘Magnetic Content’. That means it naturally attracts consumers, because the content is either interesting, it’s telling a story, it’s providing some kind of a utility (think of a mobile app that actually helps you get a job done) and ultimately it’s providing some kind of value that is inherent to the consumer. Again, it also has to be something that they would want to share with somebody else.”

When asked about the validity of premium content and legacy publisher environments, versus the size and scale of the user generated platforms of Facebook and Google, Ramsey highlighted the importance of both quality and scale to advertisers.    

“What brands want is both: they want scale, but they also want a trusted environment. Ads or content that appears on premium websites has a 67 per cent brand lift over the same content that appears on non-premium websites. That’s just one example but the point is if you build your audience organically, and you have trusted content, and you have transparency so the advertiser knows exactly where their ads placed and they can feel comfortable, then that advertiser will get the benefit not only from the content itself but essentially the glow that comes, or the halo effect that comes, from being in a trusted editorial environment. 

And finally, we asked the chief innovation officer to give us his insights into where revenue growth would come from for publishers working in the digital sphere. 

“In terms of revenue generation I would focus on a couple of things: Social is not going away so I would place a lot of emphasis on that, building your own social platforms. Video is absolutely eating the world just as mobile did. And mobile video, that’s going to be huge too! So I would put a lot of resources into mobile and video. And of course mobile… video… social… they all kind of go together – so that train has left the tracks, do not miss that train, it’s going fast.” 

“Number two, is that advertising alone will not support all of the content that’s out there. The economics just don’t support it. So I would argue that you need to figure out if you haven’t already done so, a subscription part of your business. Whether that’s an out 

-on-out paywall, or some sort of graduated, over time, later pay type situation where if you’ve seen enough articles or information, then you get billed. The key is to take the friction out of that process so that consumers don’t have to spend time dealing with credit cards. You have to figure out ways to make it a seamless experience, and an enjoyable one, so they’ll come back to you again and again.” 

Geoff will also be at the 41st FIPP World Congress in London, 9-11 October, where he will share how eMarketer was transformed from an agency to data-driven subscriptions-based business. 

Check out to read an in-depth interview with Geoff about “eMarketer – the business” on Tuesday (27 June).

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Want to read more about emerging subscription models right now? We have insights from five industry experts from Centaur, IHS Markit, Financial Times, Campaign, and Time Inc. here.

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