Audience developers face multichannel, social responsibility challenges

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Glenn Hansen, president-CEO of BPA Worldwide since 1999, logs a lot of frequent-flier miles to meet his clients. At the end of the first two months of 2012, he had already been in the air for 27,000 miles. Media Business: What new things are affecting audience development? Glenn Hansen: Tablets. Advertisers continue their demand for knowing the quality of the user from both the level of buying influence and level of engagement with the editorial and advertising content. Perhaps the device manufacturer will exchange value of subscription revenue with the content provider allowing greater access to data, enabling a premium advertising price for proven-quality audience. Or intermediaries will develop a technology solution without harming the subscription relationship. I believe a symbiotic relationship will evolve. Brand. There has been a shift from the magazine being the be-all and end-all to the brand with multichannel offerings to connect people with the producers of goods and services for which they have a need. Each channel has its own metrics challenges to be proven effective and worthy of marketing spending. Content was king; now the quality database is king. Media owners recognize they are not the only originators of content. To have the edge, not only must one have compelling content but the highest quality audience. Databases are now getting due attention. Next generation will be integration of these databases to maximize monetization. Social consciousness will affect the events and media industries this year like never before. Both sectors are now under the magnifying glass to present socially responsible conduct. Are they meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs? 2012 is the year the Global Reporting Initiative will issue indicators for the events and media industries (indicators for the events business were issued last month) to consider when reporting on social responsibility and sustainability. We will see a market for providing assurance of the corporate social responsibility reporting of event and media owners—the existing members of BPA—and have already started moving in that direction to offer that service. Government interference in matters of privacy (mostly related to online data collection) will be an issue for 2012 as other governments follow Europe's lead in establishing “cookie” laws and regulations on behavioral tracking. MB: How do you think audience developers should be using social media? Hansen: For starters, I think we need to stop thinking of it as “social” media and start thinking of it as another channel within the media mix. Platforms like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter are serving savvy audience developers in a couple of ways. One, they are helping to attract potential subscribers who may not have been inclined to seek out the media brand through more traditional channels. And two, they are acting to push potential subscribers to other channels of the brand. Ultimately, audience developers will be faced with creating a truly integrated database of users to determine exactly who is interacting with their brand and how.
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