Brands and publishers on collaboration’s biggest roadblocks

Collaboration is the new competition, at least if you listen to any number of speakers on the marketing industry conference circuit. But it’s easier said than done.

Brands struggle to arrive at a vision they and their publisher, agency and start-up partners can agree on. Publishers, meanwhile, have trouble finding the right fit in terms of brand partners. Tech startups wish that their publisher and brand partners were more flexible. And agencies try to play the perfect matchmaker in making sure the rest of these collaborations happen smoothly.

Executives from the brand, agency, publishing and start-up world came together to discuss partnerships and collaborations over a breakfast event Wednesday. Digiday caught up with one representative from each side — brand, publisher and agency — to talk about what their biggest challenges were when it came to collaboration.


Tina Wung, Digital Innovation Brand Manager, Anheuser-Busch InBev
“The biggest challenge for collaboration is that we need to make sure that all the stakeholders have the same objectives and the same vision. Digital innovation is such a new space that everyone wants to mine and succeed in, but everyone from the agencies and startups you collaborate with have their own goals in mind. So the most important thing is to make sure that everyone is aligned to the same vision and is trying to solve the same problem.”

Mike Rothman, founder of parenting website
“The key is general alignment of vision and finding the right fit. It’s like dating before marriage. A lot of brands, say a hair loss brand for example, might want to reach men over the age of 30, but might not be the right fit for us when we’re trying to be an aspirational brand. Also campaigns today are a lot less transactional, now the content is evolving and campaigns last for a longer time.”

Vishal Sapra, vp of global brand development, MRY
“The biggest challenge in collaborating across brands, publishers and start-ups is that everyone is thinking about the solution they bring to the table instead of starting with the business challenge that needs to be addressed. Agencies, publishers and platforms are all coming up with creative ideas and agencies need to stop being precious about the creative and remember good ideas can come from anywhere. Every brand wants to talk about innovation but not every brand is committed to it — from a financial or resource perspective. Brands need someone to be accountable for innovation.”

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