Publishing trade body Digital Content Next launches online ad marketplace heralding greater transparency

TrustX

Digital media trade body Digital Content Next (DCN) is launching an automated online ad marketplace, TrustX, with the aim of bringing greater transparency to the world of automated online advertising.

The ad marketplace will allow marketers to buy ad space across 25 premium media houses, with a host of publishers including ABC; Condé Nast; Hearst; NBCUniversal; Washington Post; Meredith; ESPN' Vox Media and News Corp.

The launch means media buyers can purchase content across the different titles from a single point, but is not yet know how much ad space publishers will make available through the TrustX marketplace.

The marketplace, which is expected to be operational by early 2017, will function as a non-profit subsidiary of DCN with hopes to restore some transparency in the online advertising supply chain, according to DCN chief executive Jason Kint.

Kint told The Drum marketers who choose to participate with TrustX will have access to 100 per cent of the addressable US internet audience, given the number and reach of publishers involved in the scheme. He added, that the scheme was aimed at helping “to rebuild trust is the priority over simply scale”.

To do this, TrustX will guarantee that ads are only put in front of real consumers, rather than served to non-human or “bot” traffic, a growing concern among marketers.

It also promises to provide marketers and publishers with complete transparency about the cost of campaign delivery, in a move to help reduce the fees that are sometimes charged by multiple parties in the complex adtech ecosystem.

TrustX participants have put forward undisclosed sums of money for the marketplace’s initial launch costs, and will eventually be compensated in the form of service credits after TrustX becomes cash flow positive, said Kint. Adtech outfit IPONWEB will build the underlying technology underpinning the marketplace.

The creation of the ad marketplace comes at a time when transparency in advertising is at the forefront of many marketers’ minds following last week’s admission from Facebook that it had over-inflated its video views, meaning many advertisers have been misled over engagement time.

It is not the first time rival publishers have pooled their resources in an attempt to maximize the yield from online ad sales. France’s La Place Media was arguably one of the first significant publisher collectives to kick off this trend, which launched as early as 2012 to market the digital audience of its four founding members.

In early 2015, the Guardian, CNN International, the Financial Times, Reuters and the Economist said they were banding together to form a similar programmatic sales alliance called Pangaea.

In April this year Gannett, Tribune Publishing, McClatchy and the Hearst newspaper group joined forces to create Nucleus Marketing Solutions, connecting advertisers to the publishers' audiences in what it claims is a safe, easy to access and scalable distribution alternative.

Commenting on similar ventures in France and the UK, which have experienced challenges of publishers pooling inventory with their historic rivals, Kint said “it’s natural to compare” but asserted that “TrustX is distinct in design and the timing in which it is being launched.”

“The marketplace comes at a particularly important time when DCN membership recognizes a larger purpose to build a sustainable future for trusted advertising,” he added.

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