Marfeelcon Panel Discussion: Publishers & the Changing Mobile Landscape

At its headquarters in Barcelona, Marfeel recently hosted a high-powered panel discussion on how the ever-changing landscape of the mobile web will affect the publishing industry. Included in the discussion were Marfeel co-founders, CEO Xavi Beumala and COO Juan Margenat. Joining them were Markus Bucheli, CEO and Co-founder of LikeMag Media House, Melissa Yonemura, Digital Media Manager for Crain Communication’s Autoweek magazine, and Marco Zulj, Channel Partner manager for Google EMEA. The panel was moderated by Forbes and CMO Network contributor Steve Olenski.

Among the first topics the panel kicked around was the role of demographics in determining how a publisher goes about providing a good reader experience. The panel discussed how to capitalize and monetize upon the propensity for older audiences to prefer longer, more detailed content (for reading purposes mostly), and the millennial preference for shorter content, with, of course, video and graphics. Melissa Yonemura noted that her site has seen a shift towards youth in the age of its online audience, but underscored the importance of keeping both audiences in mind. Steve Olenski pointed out a new trend where some of the major social sites and applications are now providing fast-forwarding functionality (think Instagram Stories).Video content and how it affects the notion of “user control” is an important consideration.

The discussion moved into a deep dive regarding Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and how it plays into a concept brought up by Google’s Marco Zulj as “e-patience;” the tendency of millennials to not spend much time on content, especially if it loads slowly, and what that means for monetization. Xavi Beumala described his love-hate relationship with AMP because providing speed for web publishers on behalf of the user experience is what his company is known for. However, Beumala pointed out that if Google had not introduced AMP when it did, it would have been the beginning of the end for the web. He said AMP has led to a faster ad tech infrastructure and better engineering because Google is the only company in the ecosystem who could say “You are fast, you are welcome. You are slow, you are out.” By protecting its business in this way, Beumala feels Google has transformed the web.

The conversation then turned towards the confusing subject of GDPR—the General Data Protection Regulation—and how publishers may or may not react to the new laws to protect privacy for those sites that capture data. There was general consensus that many publishers are not prepared and, to make matters more complicated, not many understand if GDPR will have an impact or not. Marcus Bucheli of LikeMag feels GDPR will lead, once again, to walled gardens and that this will hurt smaller publishers while helping companies like Google and Facebook. e also feels it is a huge risk to the European economy. Xavi Beumala also raised the question of some publishers looking at GDPR simply as a tax—paying the fine while keep doing what they do with cookies. And some on the panel were more concerned with what will come next in the form e-privacy, which Beumala felt could damage a lot more businesses.

The final discussion point had to do with public’s general distaste of mobile ads and the effects of ad blocking on the industry. Bucheli said ad blocking could be mitigated with paywalls but a publisher would have to have the proper content quality. But in mobile, where the majority of traffic is, it was mentioned that implementation of ad blocking is not especially high. And Juan Margenat said with the introduction of the new Chrome browser and the Coalition of Better Ads basically dictating that no more than 30 percent of your real estate can be advertising, the publishing industry perhaps will be driven into producing “better,” less aggressive ads so the incentive to download ad blockers on mobile will be alleviated.

Marfeelcon is a quarterly event hosted in Barcelona by Marfeel and brings together leaders from the ad tech industry and mobile publishers.

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