Above image, clockwise from top left: WAN-IFRA’s Valérie Arnould, Singapore Media Exchange General Manager Michael Chng and Danny Spears, Chief Operating Officer, The Ozone Project discussed the benefits of publisher advertising alliances during WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Asia conference.

By Xie Yihui

Hailing from the United Kingdom and Singapore respectively, Danny Spears spoke for The Ozone Project (Ozone), a publisher-built digital advertising platform that serves ads to 44 million readers of the UK’s major publications, and Michael Chng spoke for the Singapore Media Exchange (SMX), an advertising exchange jointly established by two local media giants in Singapore, Mediacorp and Singapore Press Holdings.

Spears said Ozone’s mission is “to help premium publishers extract as much value from the market as possible.” 

He said the alliance differentiates from the big tech platforms by providing premium content in quality environments, with qualified users, and real consumer attention to build a brand’s message in the UK, then that’s where Ozone can value-add.

Similarly, Chng said SMX focused on driving the uptake of private market deals so the revenue can be maximised for their publishers.

‘A sales extension of the publisher’

Specifically, SMX focuses on the non-guaranteed opportunities whereas the publishers focus on the guaranteed ones, each with its own Key Performance Indicators and objectives.

“By looking at the lower funnel type of activation where conversion metrics become important, SMX can create value by unifying audiences across platforms,” Chng said. 

“We see ourselves as a sales extension of the publisher,” he said, adding that SMX is transparent about sharing data and market opportunities with the publishers. 

The value-add that alliances can bring is a bonus.

“I am not sure that in isolation, the alliance is a silver bullet,” Spears said, “it is dependent on the publisher having its own strategy, and controlling the distribution of their assets.”  

Spears said one challenge that publishers face now is that advertisers can simply turn to hundreds of ad tech vendors who crawl the publishers’ pages and make their targeting available cheaply, without speaking to the publishers. 

To combat this, Ozone has invested in proprietary ID capability – the Ozone ID.

“This is a way for us to help publishers make more aggressive by addressable from a programmatic perspective, and increases their addressable rates by about 30 percent across the board,” Spears said.

“Whilst the world is continuing to be architected around IDs, and then we’re evolving at targeting to insulate that from exposure to third party,” he added.

Engaging with marketers

Given the much smaller size of Singapore market, Chng said SMX does not have the resources to invest in its own technology.

Instead, it works with tech vendors who come up with their own ID frameworks. 

Other than that, SMX also play an educational role by constantly engaging with marketers on behalf of the brands and publishers. 

“If the marketers are still using the old way of measuring performance in terms of scale, and with the deprecation of third-parties [cookies] they are going to see the scale drop,” he said. Thus, it is to the benefit of every stakeholder when marketers are made aware of the shift in perspectives, with a “trusted general” such as Ozone and SMX.

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