Whether the topic was social networking, user-generated videos, blogging or podcasting, publishers among the record-breaking 10,276 marketers attending November’s ad:tech conference heard renewed respect for content from the panelists reporting on the latest developments in online marketing. Pam Horan, President of the Online Pubishers Association, kicked off her panel on “Publishing in the Digital Age” with a chart showing that consumers now spend almost half their time online with content, up 35% from four years ago (see graph). Horan credited much of the increase to the surge in popularity of social networking, which OPA includes in its content category. Of course, users prefer their content free—and that isn’t always a bad thing for publishers. Vivian Schiller, SVP and GM of NYTimes.com, reported that search referrals increased 133% after the Times abandoned TimesSelect, its paid subscription model in September. When Times management found that most of its monthly 13 million visitors were coming from search engines—and not getting access to what they sought—they calculated that advertising could deliver more than the $10 million they’ve been getting annually from their 227,000 paying subscribers. What users want was the theme for almost every panel. “Marketing strategy is no longer about getting people to come to your site. It’s about configuring your content so that people can get it wherever they want,” was how Nada Stirratt, EVP, Digital Advertising at MTV Networks Digital, described the new paradigm. MTV now makes it easy for people to embed its content on Facebook pages, for instance. . . .
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