Break the Tech-Ad World Divide

Digital Players Need to Tell Their Stories

By Published on .

Ask the chief executive of any new digital service or online media product that comes along to describe their business plan, and it almost always boils down to two words: ad support. Yet most of these companies are run by engineers and are steeped in tech culture. They know little about the marketing and advertising business, and few do a good job of telling their stories to advertisers. They want the ad dollars but act as if they're in a different business than everyone else in marketing and media.

Now before I go further, it's probably best to reveal (though it may be plainly evident) that I have some skin in this game. Ad Age and Creativity, two media products which I run, are among those chasing the marketing dollars of these digital players. Not just to fatten our bottom line, though, but because it makes sense.

It's this simple: Any player in the digital space that counts on ad dollars for their survival won't get them unless they can differentiate their product or service in the eyes of marketers and clearly articulate the need for, and relevance of, their offering. Think of the advertisers as investors in the business. You need to win them over to why your product will succeed in a sea of media and why it's worthy of their dollars.

Still, I find too often that when I ask a tech-based new-media company what they're doing to tell their story to advertisers, the answer is little or nothing. Not to oversimplify, but at times it seems they believe the ad dollars will just materialize, that because they believe so passionately in their products everyone else will.

I'm not saying marketing is the only path to those dollars, but raising awareness and establishing a position is a start. Yes, I clearly believe Ad Age and Creativity would benefit from that by helping those companies reach our audiences in innovative ways, so there's my motive. But it also just comes down to good business sense. If you don't raise your hand, you don't get called on.

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