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Guardian-led programmatic alliance will give publishers scale to compete with Google & Facebook - reaction from Carat, Havas and MediaCom


By Jessica Davies, News Editor

March 19, 2015 | 5 min read

Major publishers the Guardian, Financial Times, CNN International, The Economist and Reuters revealed yesterday their joint venture to pool inventory and create a premium programmatic marketplace.

The move will mean advertisers can buy programmatic campaigns across their combined 110m-strong global audience via a single system.

The alliance - called Pangaea - will launch in beta in April. Yesterday, president of global clients for VivaKi Marco Bertozzi welcomed the move, adding that it would help allay fears of brand safety in the programmatic environment.

The Drum spoke to media agencies to gauge reaction on what the initiative will mean for them.

Anthony Rhind, global chief digital officer, Carat

Each of the partners already earn a position on many media plans, but each will also often miss consideration because their individual scale compares poorly with alternative inventory providers that bring volume audience in a single buy. By amalgamating their respective audience scale they force consideration on a numbers basis, which then allows the quality of content and environment to standout.

I also like the combination of environments that cross the political spectrum - this highlights an intelligent context rather than a left/right paradigm. Again enabling each to be considered relevant for a broader set of campaigns and advertisers.

I think it is also very well timed. The industry is now hyper sensitive to ¹safe¹ environments, uncluttered environments and securing high visibility levels.

Pangaea is going to be defined as premium on each of those parameters. It is another bellwether leading the market repositioning of programmatic as more than low value inventory. That it can be sold on basis of managed-service/IO (insertion order) or programmatic simply broadens the addressable market while our industry continues to straddle established and replacement trading models.

David Goodall, managing partner International, Havas

In principle this is a great initiative, but it seems a few years too late - this could have been a ground-breaking industry defining moment had it happened sooner.

At Havas we’ve been doing this for a long time - building quality inventory, with rich consumer understanding at the heart of our targeting strategy. Quality inventory is very important, but so is price.

I suspect this is publishers trying to protect their data whilst retaining a premiumisation of their media inventory, as they should, and for some advertisers, this will be a great opportunity, but not really at scale yet - this is weak in APAC and arguably USA too - so in essence it's a good idea, a little too late. It could be promising if they sign up new partners and get some key case studies under their belt. It also begs the question: are we just going back to a network model?

Steve Carbone, managing director/head of digital & analytics at MediaCom North America

First and foremost, I think it was a great addition for those publications. The problem for smaller or more niche publications is they struggle to compete with the large audiences you find in behemoths like Facebook and Google.

This gives them the opportunity to collectively do that, and I feel this was a more strategic need for them, than it was looking to fill an open void in the market. This will allow them to charge a premium rate they couldn't have individually charged before.

That all being said, yes, this will be good for the market as well. In a world where data has become the new oil, the more first-party data you can collectively share among publications in order to drive better audience segments and targeting through multiple attributes and identifiers across a certain category, the better it is for the advertisers.

This creates a simple, programmatic way for an agency to effectively and efficiently reach these audiences at scale.

The benefit for us is simple; we get a one-stop shop across all of these sites that can be bought through automation. In addition it represents a premium audience across premium inventory, globally, including access to native. It's a win win.

I think the perception of it providing cleaner real human eyeballs... non fraud or bot traffic will be there. As we all know, the actual work to deliver this will be an ongoing commitment on their part to keep that traffic clean and secure. But in general, our expectation around brand safety when buying this new partnership would be that it would meet or exceed our brand safety standards.

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