SAY Media’s Troy Young Takes a Holistic Approach to Digital Media

Troy Young is the President of SAY Media and has significant experience working on  the buy side at agencies like Organic, as well as the publisher side. We recently spoke with Troy about his current role and where SAY Media is headed.

The Makegood: As the President of SAY Media, you oversee many areas of the company. Can you describe your key areas of focus this year?

Right now I spend a lot of time building our content business. Over the past year and a half we’ve built and purchased a handful of media properties and we’re really focused on getting our content and community model right. Another key area of focus is user interface and making the digital media experience better for consumers. You will see a lot of innovation from us around how content is presented across platforms and how we connect editors and audiences to social systems. Much of this innovation will manifest itself in our re-launch of ReadWriteWeb.com in a couple of months.

The Makegood: SAY Media’s roots were in creative technology, having originally started out as VideoEgg. How has that shaped the evolution of SAY Media?

Well to start, we care deeply about user experience and the tools that enable it. A big part of what we accomplished at VideoEgg was in creating a great advertising experience that respected and engaged the consumer. What’s unique about SAY is that we are now in the content business and able to look at the content / advertising experience holistically. Having a one sided view of this equation frustrated us before. Now we’re in a position to get the entire digital media experience right for consumers. And we can build connections between content and advertising platforms, which very few people are doing right, in my opinion. It’s a big challenge and there’s a lot of room for innovation.

The Makegood: SAY media takes a comprehensive approach to digital media and insources every part of the value chain: content production, ad serving, and creative. What advantages does this provide to marketers, over a competitor that only provides one part?

Marketers benefit in three ways: 1) Cleaner, more engaging environments for advertising; 2) Authentic content programs that connect brands with incredibly passionate audiences at scale; 3) A media platform and people with real expertise to help brands master digital. Sounds a little jargonny, I realize, but that’s how I would sum it up.

We know most online ads struggle to get the consumer’s attention. Pages are cluttered and publishers fill space with low-yielding banners.  This does not have to be the case. We’re trying to get the balance right between editorial and advertising. We put far fewer ads on the page to focus consumer attention. And we put a lot of emphasis on editorial design to give brands a better canvas. Our approach is called Clean. Brands need attention, not clicks. By controlling the environment, we can give marketers way more value.

We work with a lot of amazing content creators. And more than anything, marketers need authentic content to engage consumers. SAY partners with brands to create content programs that go far beyond sponsored posts to include custom video series, social outreach, etc.

And we’ve spent 5 plus years perfecting the ad experience piece. Not just the tech side, but how to get the creative experience right, how to measure it and how to make it easy for our clients.

The Makegood: SAY Media’s Orion was developed with the purpose of becoming the content engine for some of SAY Media’s owned-and-affiliated properties while creating a premium experience both with editorial and advertising. How does this create value for marketers?

Orion is an entirely new media platform. It’s like ProTools for publishers, designed to make it much easier for editorial and production teams to create beautiful content across any device. The promise of a balanced editorial / advertising experience, totally native to a device (web, tablet, phone) is a dream for most publishers and advertisers. Orion and our advertising technology will make this possible.

There’s a lot we’re doing beyond basic publishing – from giving editors better workflow tools, data to make decisions and introducing new ideas around sharing and commenting – to combing product catalog features with content management. We are also developing features that will support advertisers content marketing objectives.

The Makegood: In December of 2011, SAY Media acquired ReadWriteWeb to add to the Technology channel. What was it about ReadWriteWeb that stood out from other tech focused sites? Are there any other acquisitions in the pipeline?

The brand has huge potential.  Read + write is the underpinning of all technology. It also speaks to collaboration and community. So it is a wonderful concept upon which to build a really important technology community.

ReadWrite is a pioneer in the tech blogging space. We love the depth of the content and the team’s commitment to make complex technology issues understandable. Plus the publication is really respected in the enterprise space. The editor, Richard McManus has done an amazing job building credibility with technology decision makers.

Right now we’re spending a lot of time on the next iteration of the property. I would love to share it with you and your readers in a couple of months.

The Makegood: Thanks, Troy.