Will UK Newspapers Unite Ad Sales?

And if they do, what are the implications for programmatic?

By Joel Franklin

This summer,  six major newspaper groups–News Uk, Trinity Mirror, Guardian News & media, DMG Media, Telegraph Media Group, Northern & Shell–are discussing the possibility of a industry-wide collaboration. What kind of collaboration? A joint sales venture, namely the joining up of advertising sales operation across all of the newspaper’s assets in print, digital and mobile, combined with the centralisation of all their data sources, hoping to counter the decline in print ad revenue across the whole market.

This recent initiative of a joint ad sales offering from some of the UK’s major newspaper groups isn’t exactly a wholly new strategy, with trade bodies like the Pangea Alliance and the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) having already driven industry-wide collaborations between major publishers.

With that said, these six groups are each highly influential in their own right, and to have all six join forces creates a wealth of possibilities for advertisers. As it stands, each of these individual publishers sits on rich data pointing to audience behaviour and demographic. The foreseeable pooling of resources would further enrich this data set, offering media buyers greater access to impressions, therefore granting advertisers the chance to target new audiences at a much greater scale than before.

Worth noting that at a publisher strategy level, there are some questions that need be addressed head on. Does this joint venture mean that 100% of each publisher’s inventory is to be pooled together? This seems improbable. Instead, each group is likely to submit a percentage of their inventory, which then presents a challenge for each of the major papers. How do you value your inventory versus that of a competitor’s? In addition, this collaboration could see media owners facing a loss of control with how they manage their ad offering with buyers.

What’s then needed is for both media owners and buyers to maintain a dynamic and trusted partnership with one another in order to strategise as part of an alliance or as a single entity.

For what it’s worth, it’s fantastic to see such major influencers coming together to address their specific challenges in an ever-evolving industry. We’ve seen this on a wider digital media landscape with industry players shifting towards programmatic direct to create a win-win-win situation: publishers maximise ad yield, buyers gain access to high-quality publishers in a more transparent format whilst advertisers are able to generate improved ROI.

There’s still a long way to go, but it’s positive to see any industry-led initiatives put into action with the mind-set of benefitting all those involved; the triple-win becomes ever more possible.