medialink-newfronts

The 2016 Digital Content NewFronts kicked off this morning at a breakfast hosted by business development firm MediaLink, where top executives discussed a dearth in “premium” advertising in today’s digital media landscape.

“We recognized several years ago that the advertising experience did not match up with the content experience,” said Jim Bankoff, chairman and CEO of Vox Media — owner of The Verge, Re/code, Eater, Racked, and more. “Advertising is content, and advertising is user experience.”

But what exactly does premium advertising look like? That is less clear thus far. “I think it’s kind of like the Supreme Court’s definition of pornography,” joked MediaLink founder and CEO Michael Kassan: “‘I don’t know it, but I know it when I see it.’” However, the ultimate aim is to get ads on creative par with content. “What nirvana sounds like is the moment when the consumer is not distinguishing between the content and the advertising,” Kassan says.

To offer so-called premium quality advertising at scale, Bankoff announced that Vox was building upon its Concert advertising tool, which — following a recent partnership with NBCUniversal — enables marketers to buy ads across the two companies’ combined television and digital properties. Now, Bankoff announced, Vox will partner with Google to make Concert ads available through the search giant’s programmatic infrastructure.

Harry Kargman, founder and CEO of mobile advertising firm Kargo, agrees that today’s ad business has lost the creative flair of yesteryear. “When you look at programmatic today, we’ve been really good at the signals part, we’ve been really good at the data part — we’ve lost the art part,” he says.

“It’s great to have the right device, right message, right time, right context,” adds Kassan. “But we are in the world of marketing where there’s a bit of serendipity that needs to enter it. Because if not, we’re all just digit heads at that point.”

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