Guardian, News UK and Telegraph create shared ad network The Ozone Project

The Ozone Project execs Hamish Nicklin, Dora Michail and Dominic Carter

Three of the UK's biggest media titles have pooled their resources to create a digital ad network that they think will avoid the pitfalls of current offerings while better funding their journalism.

News UK, The Guardian News and Media and The Telegraph have developed the The Ozone Project, a platform they say will offer brands and advertisers large scale buys across brand safe areas. They are also promising "fraud-free" environments to appeal to marketers keen to ensure their advertising reaches human eyes.

The Ozone Project, currently in Alpha, will serve up access to a joint audience of around 39.4 million unique users when it launches in autumn. This collaboration, which bears some resemblance to the Oath media network across multiple owned titles, will look to draw spend from the coffers of the digital ad duopoly of Facebook and Google on the promise of brand safety, a premium environment, and transparency around the buys.

By offering up all titles on a platter, the three companies will hope to incentivise buyers to join in, maybe directing spend away from other networks.

To do so, it says it will leverage first party CRM data with publisher audiences to segment audiences into purchasable groups. A single specialised Ozone Project sales team will handle buys as a managed service or through premium programmatic channels.

Dominic Carter, group chief commercial officer of News UK, said: “This project has been driven by a shared ethos to create a channel for advertisers to gain direct access to publishers’ audiences at scale via a transparent and effective platform.”

Dora Michail, managing director of digital at The Telegraph, added: “Funding quality journalism is essential for the good of the media industry and society as a whole. The Ozone Project puts in place an infrastructure that creates a better marketplace for advertisers, consumers and publishers alike.”

Hamish Nicklin, chief revenue officer of The Guardian News and Media, concluded: “We are working together to build a better digital ecosystem for advertisers, readers and publishers. The Ozone Project is a response to the challenges we all face and aims to facilitate the highest standard of digital advertising and ensure quality journalism and content continues to be funded.”

Pitching in on the news, Dino Myers-Lamptey, UK managing director at MullenLowe Mediahub, said: "The Ozone Project is a much needed and welcomed piece of news from the people who write it. With GDPR and the enticing forces of Facebook and Google, publishers are being challenged like never before. Their competitive nature that has made them so influential in driving views and opinions, while great for editorial, has been a problem for advertising. What advertising needs is quality environments that separate clickbait from real passion-based engagement and, importantly, scale.

“Clubbing together to bring meaningful, global scale audiences that are loyal and pay attention is a smart and very necessary move. This news is good for the industry, and good for those that have broken their own rules to shake hands and be a part of that club.”

Celine Saturnino, chief commercial officer at independent media agency Total Media, added: "It’s great to see the major publishers coming together in a market so dominated by the duopoly, however in a market that’s crying out for differentiation, this has to be more than a centralised buying platform to deliver real benefit to advertisers. Key questions the Ozone Project needs to be able to answer is what benefit the platform can bring beyond what can be achieved through existing DSP platforms which already deliver centralisation. Additionally we see the opportunity with publisher brands to be multimedia and a single digital platform seems to miss the bigger opportunity, although this is clearly a more complex challenge.”

It comes a day after News UK announced that it can target readers based on their emotions and opinions.

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