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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

On Lions and Lambs

April 1, 2015 | By Jason Kint, CEO – DCN @jason_kint

Jason Kint Headshot with TwitterWe’ll use this space going forward to bring you a quick recap of the month: ICYMI. So let’s take a look back at March, which proved to be a month that delivered few answers. The most popular question by far was how to deal with Facebook: Are they a lion or a lamb? Should you hold back your crown jewels as Nick Denton argued last month at Code/Media or is it inevitable that you must go where your audience is going. Some even argue that Facebook has already won. The debate on this one is far from over.

The hotly anticipated Net Neutrality Order was released on March 12th and it matched up quite nicely with DCN’s filed comments to the FCC. In fact, we were cited four times in the final Order, all in areas vital to content creators such as free speech and innovation. And in just a matter of days, the first lawsuits challenging Net Neutrality were filed.

Sadly, if unsurprisingly, there was very little activity as a result of the White House release of its Privacy Consumer Bill of Rights. This is unfortunate as it was intended to be a conversation starter. Consumers will be the ultimate losers if these important issues fall by the wayside as they’re left without any legitimate options to protect their privacy as they browse across the web. This will continue to drive down their trust in digital media including the publishers (and marketers who fund it). We’ve started to more closely track the rise in adoption rates of ad blocking software and urged companies to “connect the dots” between the nefarious web and a new generation of users who are blocking out all ads.

In related news, Nielsen purchased one of the largest data brokers on the planet. And Oracle purchased BlueKai last year. Which DMP is next? This is a question that should be on your mind.

DCN spent time at a number of industry events in March. The ARF (Advertising Research Foundation) had their annual Re:Think conference March 16-18th in NYC where researchers from all over media came together to debate the future of their craft. The 4As held their annual Transformation conference while the ANA held its Media Conference. Both conferences set record attendance. “Trust” seemed to be a common theme as the buy side deals with the black box of programmatic ushering in arbitrage, rebates, and junk ads and at its worst non-human traffic. Automation isn’t going away; it is part of our future. Nevertheless knowing who you’re doing business with and how they do business will become key themes to good automation practices.

As part of our effort to expand our footprint and influence in DC, DCN sponsored the Center Democracy and Technology’s annual “Tech Prom,” which is attended by thousands of tech policy people from companies and consumer advocacy groups as well as all the major policymakers from the FTC, FCC and Capitol Hill.  Chris Pedigo, DCN’s SVP for Government Affairs was recognized on the Host Committee.

DCN launched a couple events of its own in March starting off the month with its first “Digital DC” event graciously hosted by member company, National Geographic. March closed with DCN traveling to Vail, CO where I had the opportunity to host the Publisher Town Hall at Digiday’s Publishing Summit. Digiday EIC Brian Morrissey and I also moderated the first “DCN: The Next Conversation” over a private dinner with a number of senior execs at DCN member companies. We had some great discussion about creating energy across diverse workforces, specializing in skills and adapting to the accelerating change all around us.

Also in March we launched the first of several Board committees to leverage the expertise and input of our members to drive action on key issues that impact the business of digital content companies. The first two committees focus on Fraud and Viewability and are charged with identifying initiatives that DCN can develop to move the needle by influencing the industry debate and providing resources to the membership on these topics.

And finally I want to say R.I.P to GigaOM. Gone before its time, it reminded us how fleeting success can be in digital media. DCN exists to pave the way for the trusted content of the future. This means building and evolving sustainable brands which can stand the test of time. Om Malik’s creation produced thought-provoking work created by some of the most provocative and hard-working reporters in the business. But the forces at work in digital media are powerful ones and GigaOM vanished as quickly as it appeared.

These March lions show no sign of going out like lambs any time soon.

Jason Kint Signoff

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