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Every day consumers gain more and more options for how they can consume content – making the publisher’s goals of attracting high-value audiences, retaining those audiences, and proving value to advertisers continuously more difficult.

In this Digital Dialogue, I interview Mike Perlman – SVP of Millward Brown Digital’s media practice – about some of the challenges facing the industry today.

What would you say is the biggest digital challenge media companies and publishers are facing today?

The biggest challenge for media companies is proving their added value to advertisers in a world where media is increasingly fragmented, and where advertisers are able to buy audiences without thought to which platform they are reaching those audiences.

1. Fragmentation: There are more ways for audiences to consume content than ever before (TV, desktop, radio, mobile, over-the-top services), and more media companies out there to compete with. At the end of the day, media companies need to generate an audience, and it’s just harder to stand out with audiences than it has been in the past.

2. Programmatic: When advertisers are able to programmatically buy audiences, it is much harder for media companies to command premium CPMs. Programmatic allows advertisers to reach their audiences efficiently, but it creates challenges for the publishers to differentiate from competitors.

We all know that consumers are using multiple devices more and more in their daily lives, can you talk a little about how shifting device preferences are impacting media companies and publishers?

Audiences are connecting on mobile at a much greater rate than they have in the past, so the most obvious way that this impacts publishers is that now they have mobile inventory to monetize. CPMs differ from desktop to mobile, and the mobile economics are still being worked out. Facebook has done a lot in terms of building out a network for marketers to reach people on mobile devices, but there is still more to be done.

What do you think is the biggest opportunity for media companies and publishers to get digital right?

Media companies need to understand how consumers engage with each of their platforms (across desktop, mobile, offline, etc.) and what each is used for. Each platform could be used at a specific phase of the research process, or one type of audience may be more likely to use one platform over the other. When media companies understand these differences, they are better able to position their platforms back out to the marketers and command premium CPMs.

Additionally, being able to prove that a media company reaches specific high-value audiences is key. We live in a world of niche audiences, allowing marketers to target beyond traditional demographics. Media companies that can prove that they reach a specific audience better than their competitors are better positioned. For example, a media company could prove that it reaches new mothers and that when those mothers are on its platform they are in a specific type of mindset. These insights prove the value of a publisher to its advertisers.

Finally, what’s an interesting trend in the digital landscape you want to keep an eye on?

I think traditional media plans will continue to change as the digital and TV worlds merge and the lines between digital and TV further blur. The majority of advertising dollars are still on the TV side, but new models for how people consume content are being created every day. In the end, advertising dollars will follow the consumer.

Thanks, Mike!

As lead of the Media Practice, Michael has full P&L responsibility for the business and oversees all functions within the practice including sales, client service, and research. Previously, Michael held positions as an Associate at private equity firm Falcon Investments, as a Group Manager in the corporate strategy department of enterprise software company Siebel Systems, and as a strategy consultant at both ZEFER and MarketBridge. Michael holds an MBA from the Johnson School at Cornell University and a B.A. in Economics from Hamilton College.