Another UK-Based Publisher Coalition Emerges

AOP Publisher AllianceSoon, UK buyers will have two premium publisher coalitions to choose from.

On the heels of the announcement of Pangaea, the UK trade association AOP (Association of Online Publishers) revealed on Tuesday its plans to create a consortium set to make its debut in six to eight weeks, after the publishers involved implement AppNexus technology and pool their inventory into a private exchange.

The publishers in the AOP premium publisher alliance include Telegraph Media Group, ESI Media, Time Inc., Haymarket Media Group, Dennis Publishing Ltd., Auto Trader, Future Plc, Sift Media and Bauer Consumer Media Ltd.

AOP hopes to create more value and transparency with programmatic by taking charge itself, while protecting its direct sales efforts.

“The market is ready for simplification, for publishers to start to collaborate where they can, without sharing sensitive information,” said AOP Chairman Tim Faircliff. “It’s led by the changes in technology. Five years ago, it would have been sharing spreadsheets together, which is rubbish.”

The idea for a private marketplace composed of premium publishers bubbled up from within the AOP in September. The AOP, as a neutral party, seemed the best place to house such an alliance. “The association is there to protect and champion the interest of premium publishers,” Faircliff said.

Publishers collaborating to create the alliance saw the need to create scale in premium publisher markets. “When competing with the long tail of non-premium inventory out in the market, it can be tough to ensure that the value and quality of our audience is recognized,” said Haymarket sales director Julia Dear. “This is only exacerbated because of poor attribution modeling and measurement metrics across the industry.”

Publishers don’t have to be AOP members to contribute to the private exchange. Participants will pay a subscription fee and share in the revenue they create. Future members will have to meet certain criteria, including being original content creators.

“We’re not going after the long tail, ad network-style,” Faircliff said.

Faircliff doesn’t intend the exchange to compete with Pangaea, but to offer more options for consolidated buying in premium environments.

Pangaea, whose member publishers include the Guardian, CNN International, Reuters and the Financial Times, focuses on business news and will have a global scope.

In contrast, the AOP-led alliance will focus on UK inventory from a more diverse set of UK publishers.

The organization is still working on setting up floor prices, a block list and inventory contribution requirements. It’s likely many publishers will aim on contributing 10% of their inventory to the alliance.

“At launch, we are simply committing to a percentage of inventory to test the concept,” Dear said. “It will be quality inventory, but primarily sold to tier-two clients.”

The consortium participants also want to avoid conflict with direct sales efforts. “We will continue to sell the majority of our inventory [directly],” Dear said. Haymarket does some business with ad networks and programmatic, but “we are also very reluctant to open up our inventory to the agency trading desks in any meaningful way due to the lack of control it gives us over our business and the low pricing currently available in the market.”

The AOP alliance will only work if the group grows revenues more effectively than Haymarket would solo, delivering on the idea of “offering premium, brand-safe inventory to our clients at scale and in working with agencies around improved measurement and attribution models,” Dear said.

Publisher data will eventually be available for buyers, including the ability to buy contextually – like against automotive content.

The alliance doesn’t expect difficulties sourcing demand for the marketplace. “This has significant support from the buy side,” Faircliff said, citing public support from Havas, Xaxis and Adallect. “This is not just a publisher-led initiative, but an industry-led initiative.”

“Agencies have for some time wanted access to our premium, quality inventory to help mitigate and reassure clients around these very real and very valid concerns [about fraud and bot traffic],” Dear added.

Enjoying this content?

Sign up to be an AdExchanger Member today and get unlimited access to articles like this, plus proprietary data and research, conference discounts, on-demand access to event content, and more!

Join Today!

1 Comment

  1. Augustine Fou

    I think this is the way to go and is the wave of the future. Publishers have been victimized by strong-arm tactics of media agencies who have been asked by their clients (the advertisers) to get better — e.g. 100% viewability. Publishers need to collaborate like this and also bring in new measures of quality — such as “humanness” to differentiate from mid- and long-tail sites.