In this Digital Dialogue, our team sat down with Nicole Jones – Senior Vice President, media practice within Millward Brown Digital – to get her perspective on some of the challenges and opportunities facing today’s publishers.

You personally started measuring advertising in 2001 – since then, what’s one thing that’s remained constant, and one thing that has drastically changed (that you didn’t expect)?

The part of my job I enjoy most is that the digital space is always evolving. At the early onset of digital advertising, most ads were like the lights on the Vegas strip, simply trying to grab attention. Since then, I’m happy to see the industry progress beyond that, toning down ads and adding substance to them. And despite digital’s push of constant change and speed to market, there are still guiding principles that remain. The main purpose of digital advertising is to engage consumers – catch their attention – and this aspect has remained constant. What’s changed, however, is how we engage with consumers. The aspect that has drastically evolved is the onset of “one to one” marketing and the adoption of social media. The advent of social media is far beyond anything I would have thought of when I first started in this industry. Blogs were very big at the time (“one to many”) but to see the sharing/content curation that happens on a daily basis is amazing!

With so many emerging platforms and shifts in consumer behaviors, what would you say is the biggest challenge publishers face?

One of the most enlightening facts I have seen is that humans have a shorter attention span than goldfish and it is blamed on smartphones. In today’s daily life we expect everything now, not in 5 minutes – that’s an eternity. I think because of that, capturing consumers’ attention and retaining it is one of the biggest challenges. The media landscape continues to evolve and become even more fragmented. We saw in our report, The New Mobile Mantra, that consumers have as many as 40+ apps on their phones and only use around 4-6 a day. This is just one example of how consumers are so very fickle today. Making sure that publishers not only gain consumers attention but delight them is a hard task to overcome.

How can traditional media evolve and stay relevant with target audiences, in light of cross-device/platform trends?

Traditional is an interesting term – I’m not really certain there truly is any “traditional” media left. Media has evolved in order to make sure that it is relevant with the target audience; no media works in isolation anymore. Even campaigns that start the flight with one channel generally lead to another channel. This has been driven by the way that media is consumed; more simultaneous and cross-platform usage. In the television space alone, there is Over-The-Top, connected TV, and streaming; all while linear TV continues to play a large role. The best way for media to evolve is to ensure it is leveraging all of the tools that are available, to reach consumers no matter where they may be or what they may be doing. This is where targeting and content created for each specific platform is important.

How can emerging platforms reach the types of audiences that advertisers will want to engage (and then allocate advertising spend) and maintain that for an extended period?

As targeting and programmatic become more mainstream it is important to leverage them to reach appropriate audiences, as they allow marketers to deliver the right message to the right person. Emerging platforms can be so high-touch with consumers that it is even more important to leverage this data and help advertisers really understand who is interacting with their brands. Big data has become an overused term; I like to think of it as segmentation on steroids. Emerging platforms are now in a place where they know select information on a brand that may not have been known in the past. On the flip side though, it is important not to overdo and create extremely niche audiences as this may lead to a fragmentation of the overall campaign message.

What do you think is the biggest opportunity for publishers to break through the noise in the space and find success?

The biggest opportunity for publishers to break through the noise and find success is to tailor their advertising. For years, we’ve pushed the message that marketers can’t just take a TV ad and put it online; they need to create specific advertising based on the platform and the audience’s mindset while utilizing that platform. Some of our clients are trying to hone in on this and create guidelines based on desktop and mobile, which allows brands to create the best content for individual platforms. Once brands have the best creative for the best platform, it’s a matter of ensuring the message reaches the right audience – that’s where targeting comes in.

A little something fun – our President, Stephen DiMarco, is a huge fan of music – what’s your favorite song/album and why?

Asking me to pick a favorite song/album is akin to my children asking me to pick a favorite among them. It’s a tough call! However, if I had to pick one of my favorite songs it would be Blister in the Sun by the Violent Femmes. It’s one of those songs that make you start tapping your feet and you can actually remember the words. Plus, what other song builds from an almost-whisper back to full exuberance?

Nicole Jones is Senior Vice President, media practice for Millward Brown Digital, leading all relationships with social platforms for the digital insights leader, as well as managing the client services team for the growing media practice. As Millward Brown’s former Global Head of Digital and Media for one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, Jones helps today’s leading media platforms elevate their consumer and advertiser experiences. With an unparalleled understanding of what advertisers need from their partners and over 15 years’ experience in research and measurement, Jones drives next level innovation and growth for Millward Brown’s media partners.