Future's digital director, Richard Foster, put forward the idea of publishers forming an alliance and pooling their audience data, saying he believed "quite a few trading desks" would welcome a more consistent definition of audience.
He suggested that an alliance could help meet the demands of agencies for scale, saying: "One of the challenges we face at Future is that I can put out a segment of 100,000 users who are in the market for iPad at a certain moment and the whole premise of programmed media buying is relevance but also readership at scale, and so we may struggle at that level."
Foster earlier described the value Future can get audience data and the opportunity to exploit it off-site with exchanges as "multiple times" the value it can get from media space.
From the sell side, there was a call from VivaKi's Paul Silver, for "some common langugage" across the industry. Silver, the head of product, AOD UK, at Publicis Groupe's Vivaki Nerve Center, claimed "the third party data space feels a bit like the wild west" with everyone trying to build revenues without thinking about the wider structure.
Silver predicted that 2012 would see a rapid increase in growth at VivaKi, after a period of educating a significant proportion of its 300-400 employees in digital.
Both men were speaking at a panel session on 'Dealing in Data' with Konrad Feldman, ceo and co-founder of Quantcast and Marcus Wilkinson, publishing director of IDG UK.
Wilkinson outlined how IDG, which owns business and consumer technology brands such as CIO and Computerworld, had used its own data to come up with smarter packages for advertisers but had also set up an ad exchange covering its tech sites with a data layer that trading desks can exploit.
It was experimenting on the consumer side with data partners without producing "earth-shattering revenues", Wilkinson said, adding that the possibility of pooling data with other tech publishers was under consideration.