The advantages Google and Facebook have over traditional publishers when it comes to attracting ad dollars are twofold: scale and a single buying point. These two factors mean that they take an eye-wateringly high share of global ad spend.
But publishers are fighting back by doing something very out of character – working together. By collaborating on data and aggregating audiences, data alliances, such as the Ozone Project and Pangaea Alliance in the UK and Alliance Gravity in France, are creating single buying points for their combined audiences, which are starting to approach meaningful scale.
At yesterday’s AOP Digital Publishing Summit, there was a panel session featuring representatives from the above alliances. They were very upbeat.
Publisher alliances are no quick fix solution and are extremely hard to get off the ground as there are substantial trust issues to overcome as well as the technical challenges of merging different data sets. The Ozone Project, which brings together the Telegraph, News UK, the Guardian and Reach, has taken eighteen months to get off the ground, but News UK’s Ben Walmsley was optimistic about the outlook.
The UK alliances are still taking shape and there seemed to be some hesitancy over the amount of data publishers were willing or able to share. Fabien Magalon from France’s Alliance Gravity seemed more bullish. He wants every piece of data, including CRM, search, transactional, from every publisher. If you apply sufficient brain power, a common taxonomy can be applied and data wrinkles ironed out.
A recurring theme at the AOP Summit was the importance of context and a return to marketing basics when it comes to ad serving: right place, right time, right person. Publishers are, and probably always will be, the best story tellers, so publishing initiatives that can combine scale, context and brilliant content are an exciting development.