By Jessica Davies, News Editor

April 2, 2015 | 4 min read

First-party data ambitions are at the heart of Pangaea – an alliance between premium publishers to scale their programmatic trading – not a desire to compete with Facebook and Google on ad revenue, according to the the Guardian’s global revenue director Tim Gentry.

Speaking to The Drum at the Digital Trading Awards judging last week, Gentry said the alliance between the Guardian, the Financial Times, CNN International, the Economist and Reuters signals a critical point in the scaling of premium programmatic environments in which advertisers can feel assured of brand safety.

“We have come together to leverage the amazing scale and data and quality of environments," he said. "The World Federation of Advertisers last year reported that 80 per cent advertisers were concerned where their ads were appearing and what Pangaea can offer with the brands that are members and founders is incredible trust.”

Following the Pangaea announcement, reports began circulating that the move had been triggered by a need for premium publishers to pool inventory and data in order to provide the scale necessary to render programmatic trading a success and compete with the likes of Facebook and Google for ad revenue, particularly in the US.

Gentry played down the notion that the alliance was driven by a desire to combat this, and added that it was not a central part of the planning process. “Competing with Facebook and Google was not part of the key strategy of Pangaea; it is much more about operating in a space in which currently no one else operates, which is the quality and the efficacy and trust of publisher brands that represent Pangaea, and being able to deliver it at significant scale globally.

"It has been important for us to do that as an alliance as that has helped us unlock the power of our first party data which gives us a view of the user which is really quite unparalleled,” he added.

However, given the current dominance the likes of Google and Facebook have in media plans, premium publishers are not getting the share of the media plan which they deserve, according to Rubicon general manager, international, Jay Stevens.

Speaking to The Drum, Stevens said the top five sites – Google, Facebook, AOL, MSN, and Yahoo – between them dominate the bulk of media plans, leaving a far smaller percentage to the likes of premium publishers.

"Everyone else is clawing away for just a share of the pie," Stevens said. "A big reason for that is because brands can more easily reach the audiences they want, and Google and Facebook can overlay a tremendous amount of data. And Yahoo and AOL also have great data plays in how they execute, so that means it is more and more challenging to take the share of the media plan that is really deserved by a lot of these great titles. That’s the case in the US and it's even more concentrated elsewhere in the world including the UK.

"Pangaea is really a collaboration of data assets on top of the automation platform – which is Rubicon – together with the very broad global reach of 110 million unique users – these three things allow them [the publishers] to compete on a much more level playing field and take more share of the plan back," he said.

Pangaea has already begun trading, and had an “amazing first few days of response”, with campaigns running from a cross-section of sectors including airlines, distribution, technology, luxury, according to Gentry.

To hear the full interview watch the above video.

Rubicon powers five other programmatic cooperatives including a Danish, Czech, and Greek united exchanges and is on the cusp of announcing another in the coming months.

The Drum is running Media Slap, a conference on 23 April which looks at sustainable publishing models in the digital age. For more information visit the Media Slap website.

The Pangaea Alliance Financial Times The Guardian

More from The Pangaea Alliance

View all