With a wide range of available mediums for sharing content and creating engagement, media owners have to be more innovative than ever.

In a panel discussion at the Digital Media Strategies Conference in London today, media publishers talked about developing new content strategies and promoting their specific brand.

Lara O’Reilly, the chair and global advertising editor of Business Insider, asked the panellists about the challenges of promotion and distribution across social media channels.

Natasha Murray, the managing director of Havas Media, said:

“It’s all about knowing your audience. You have to earn the right to be in the lives of your audience. It’s a hugely organic world. Brands are placing less and less of a role in that ecosystem. People are taking control and becoming the media.”

Audience engagement is becoming more complex, Walter Knapp, the CEO of Sovrn Holdings Inc., argued:

“We have to understand not only our home-based readership but also who is interacting with our content on other platforms.”

The speakers agreed that diversification is the key to success. Emma Geary, the digital account director at Factory Media, said: “It is troubling for a publisher to put all their eggs in one basket.”

She believes that resonance with one’s audience is the most important thing when promoting a brand:

“We’re looking for the way content fits seamlessly into people’s sites. We have to keep the user at the heart, not the product.”

When O’Reilly asked whether there is still room for creativity in data driven brand promotion, Simon Davies, Executive Director EMEA Quartz, answered: “I worry science starts to overwhelm creativity. We make big decisions with our gut, small decisions with our data.”

The discussion moved on to how to deal with ad blocking. Knapp said his company conducted a survey and found that 56 per cent of users disabled their ad blocker when asked to. Geary disagreed with this approach. She said:

“Ad blocking is a protest vote. The user is telling us they decide how to consume content and that we need to come up with something new.”

Davies agreed, arguing:

“It’s all about diversification. Ads can’t be the main source of revenue. We have to treat our audience with respect.”