How sales houses will maintain the local ecosystem

Local economy, Port House – Antwerp

The past years saw the appearance of strategic alliances between local media companies, their sales houses and even advertisers everywhere in Europe, as a raid plan or a defence mechanism (your choice) against the superiority of the so-called platform giants on the digital advertising market. As a sales house, why is it so important to protect the local ecosystem?

A prominent partnership option is the login alliance, namely an alliance where media users are offered the possibility to use a single login to register on several (news)websites. Amongst others, let’s name NetID and Verimi in Germany, Project Nonio in Portugal and PassMedia in France. When it comes to partnerships between sales houses, Ad Alliance (a cross-media alliance between publishers Axel Springer, Funke Mediengruppe, RTL Group and Gruner+Jahr) in Germany and Ozone (The Guardian, The Telegraph, News UK and Reach) in the UK are the most famous. In our country, DaviD – a 100% local platform enabling the buying of programmatic data-driven campaigns based on common inventories from the (currently) three involved sales houses Pebblemedia, IPM and Produpress – was developed in September last year.

The main reasons behind the creation of those alliances seem obvious, in particular, the dominance of the so-called platform giants on the advertising market – globally, Facebook and Google currently account for 50% of the digital advertising market. The objective is to collect more valuable users’ data. “DaviD was launched to make a qualitative and local advertising platform available to advertisers and agencies for them to be able to reach the right audience”, tells Michel Mabille, COO, ProduPress. “It is a matter of offering advertisers a brand-safe context meeting their needs, that is to say, reach, frequency and segmented data profiles. We make no secret that this was put on the market as an alternative to investing in the Googles and Facebooks of this world. We offer higher quality in the field of brand safety and proximity thanks to our offer composed of local websites only”, according to Mabille. This being said, we don’t talk about a transfer of online investments from the Gafas to local initiatives, says the CEO of ProduPress. “The digital investments continue to rise and DaviD aims at claiming a bigger market share.” Sylvie Irzi, CEO, IPG Mediabrands, qualifies the dominance of Gafas in our country. “IPG Mediabrands manages a global advertising budget of 225 million euro, however, the majority of this investment is not spent on Google and Facebook. In our country, Facebook and Google rule concerning users, reach and services to consumers, but not in regard to advertising investments”, according to Irzi. Kristof Ampe, current General Manager Middle-East and Africa at Royal Swinkels Family Brewers, and Advertiser Personality of the Year 2018, does not either see DaviD as an offensive on the dominant positions of other foreign media, but more “as an initiative creating value for users, publishers and advertisers”.

Protecting the local economy

One of DaviD’s important added value is the fact that the inventory comprises 100% local websites. How important is this local anchor for an advertiser and what are the reasons to maintain the local ecosystem? “A local ecosystem is highly important for many reasons”, explains Sylvie Irzi. “News are the base of our democracy and economy and the investments in our local news publishers are indisputable to be protected. Furthermore, we have the responsibility to offer consumers local content and entertainment because that’s what many are looking for. In addition, advertising investments in the local ecosystem are necessary to sustain product development. If we want to change the model, we need to be able to suggest alternatives to advertisers who would like to use Google Search, Facebook or influencer marketing.” In other words, protecting the local economy. This proves vital for Michel Mabille and Kristof Ampe as well. “Today, if an advertiser invests 1 million euro in Facebook, that money will be sent abroad, through fiscal loop-hole or not. On the other hand, the same investment done through DaviD or another local initiative will feed and boost Belgian consumption and economy, not only money-wise but also regarding tools and human resources within publishers and sales houses. Investing in Facebook and Google will mainly let foreign people and machines work”, according to Mabille. Kristof Ampe’s opinion is the following: “The more one invests in Facebook and Google, the higher the chance is that this money will not be dedicated to the development of local content. The odds grow significantly that this capital will not feed the local economy. A lot of local content is financed by advertisers through advertising revenues. Therefore, it is crucial that this happens in an as qualitative as possible environment and with the satisfactory return so that publishers are in a position to develop qualitative content. Letting a sales house contribute with its local knowledge, user insights and scale capabilities makes it only stronger for everyone”, according to Ampe.

Brand safety

What about brand safety? Does a 100% local inventory also stand for a safer environment for the advertiser? For Michel Mabille, this is a no-brainer. “There is a series of quality requirements for websites included in DaviD, such as viewability, context, brand safety and privacy.” “Eyeballs are important, but qualitative eyeballs prevail”, adds Kristof Ampe. “I work on the assumption that working with local media and a local sales house eases the brand safety process and can also lead to a higher trust level from advertisers and users. A few months ago, in collaboration with We Media, the UBA launched the Digital Ad Trust label that guarantees advertisers a qualitative and positive environment for their campaigns. Digital media willing to use this label have to meet the following quality requirements: guarantee a safe communication environment, fight against fraud, optimise ad visibility, improve user’s experience (limit the number of ads on a page) and properly inform the user with regard to the protection of their personal data.”

Proximity

Proximity stores

Knowledge is the last reason why investing in a local ecosystem is useful to advertisers. Local teams know the Belgian market, privacy issues look clearer and the accessibility level is higher. “This proximity applies when it comes to websites but also sales teams”, says Mabille. “Advertisers and agencies can call upon a Belgian team offering enough flexibility to optimise the campaigns.” Sylvie Irzi concludes: “An initiative such as DaviD drives the market in the right direction. Optimising channel led campaigns (campaign optimisation regardless of the channel) is currently easier with the Gafas. Within DaviD, I buy media data while sometimes I’m only interested in the data and not in the media linked to it. Therefore, the offer needs to be fine-tuned with things fully comparable to what we can buy elsewhere..” So, time to think bigger…

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