Concert Scales Up By Adding PopSugar, Rolling Stone And New York Media

Concert, the ad marketplace run by Vox Media and NBCUniversal, added three more large publishers to its network Thursday, increasing Concert’s reach from 80% to 90% of all internet users.

PopSugar, Rolling Stone and New York Media were selected to create a strong offering around entertainment and female-focused content, according to Ryan Pauley, head of Concert and VP of revenue operations at Vox Media.

Concert – which pairs scale with unique video, native and in-feed ad units – is winning marketer budgets originally dedicated to open programmatic and digital video, Pauley said. Marketers are switching over due to brand safety concerns and fraud and performance issues in open-market environments.

“We have won a couple of deals where clients are moving budgets from YouTube into Concert,” Pauley said. “We expect that to continue because of the performance, the contextual alignment and the safety component.”

Earlier this month, two-year-old Concert added Quartz to offer advertisers a scaled business influencers demographic. Concert previously added Funny Or Die, The Ringer, Brit + Co, Flipboard, Entrepreneur and Penske Media, which runs SheKnows, WWD, Variety, Indiewire and other publications.

Concert originally coalesced around its success selling a contextual sports vertical comprised of SB Nation, The Ringer and NBC Sports, and it’s been adding contextual groups from there.

“That gave us the initial signal that context was something marketers were craving,” Pauley said. “In digital, marketers can get scale, data and standard ad units, but they can’t get scale plus safe engagement in a high-value context.”

For now, a minority of advertisers buys programmatically within Concert. Most rely on the Vox Media team to run the campaign and optimize the creative. The publisher’s ad tech system can create three versions of the headline, thumbnail and call to action and optimize those 27 versions to find the best performance.

But Pauley expects more advertisers will want to execute deals programmatically in the second half of the year through 2019. Programmatic offers a different set of optimization advantages for advertisers, including frequency capping control.

Also in the second half of this year, Concert may look to create products for advertisers that rely on pooling publisher partners’ data – which publishers are more willing to do now to compete with the duopoly.

“Individually, no one can compete with Facebook,” Pauley said. “But collectively, publishers are interested in partnering together because collectively we can get to the mindset an audience is in a given moment, and it’s a lot easier to deliver an ad when you know what mindset they are in.”

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