Publishers are Choosing Between Acquisition Sprees or Co-operatives to Counter Google and Facebook

KyaraHeadquartered in Amsterdam, Improve Digital is a supply-side platform (SSP)  that focuses solely on helping independent media-owners monetise their inventory. The company’s 360 Polaris platform is used by 250 European media owners, including publisher co-operatives. Here Kyra Steegs, Improve Digital’s ‎Senior Director of Video, discusses how publishers are responding to the threat posed by the tech giants and what she expects to see happen in 2017.

Over the last couple of years we have seen a number of new cooperatives spring up in some of the smaller European markets. Could you provide some background information on the one you’re working with in Switzerland and on how it is faring?

One of our clients in Switzerland is Admeira, a joint venture of Swisscom, Ringier and SRG. Admeira is the largest publishing sales house of Switzerland with a multi-media portfolio of almost 80 strong media brands. They are using our technology for monetising their mobile and desktop inventory as well as their growing video inventory. Together they bundle their inventory, create new formats and channels and provide a great counterweight to the overly powerful Facebook and Google.

We’ve seen a lot of the large publishing groups in the DACH market go on acquisitive shopping sprees over the last couple of years. What is fuelling this trend?

Actually, they have the same motivation as the Swiss publishers: to build a counterweight against Google and Facebook. You have two options – cooperatives or acquisitions. With this consolidation of the market publishers gain bigger volumes, higher quality of data, broader reach and therefore a stronger negotiation power. Advertisers benefit from more precise targeting and a broader audience.

What do you expect to see happen in the European digital advertising market in 2017?

For video, specifically we’ve seen the user generated content surge the past year. We expect this to increase even more next year. It provides publishers with huge opportunity, even if they don’t own any video content themselves. The landscape of video advertising is changing quickly. Video buyers will start regarding Facebook as a video destination, rather than simply as a social network. Facebook Live and in-feed video are catalysts of that growth. Now on-demand services account for 20 percent of all views in consumer’s homes (research by Ericsson). We’ve seen that broadcasters need to rethink their business models to compete with these services. This shift is acknowledged by the way in which the broadcast industry is moving into hybrid or AVOD business models.

Regarding the digital industry, transparency in the value chain will be crucial, as the call for increased transparency by content providers is getting louder. And regarding header bidding – a major trend in 2016: it does not offer the same opportunity in video as it did in display, and therefore the focus of video will shift the header bidding discussion to a discussion about holistic systems, combining lowest latencies and fastest response times, with the most efficient and effective workflow.

Could you provide a brief overview of Improve Digital’s video offering?

We offer a myriad of video products that give content providers full flexibility in what video solution they need to optimally monetise their inventory. We strive to provide solutions that can do two things in the same environment: both serve up any ad impression format and any type of campaign. We’ve recently launched our newest platform 360 Polaris, an all-in-one advertising solution able to weigh pricing agreements, what the market will pay and what type of format is in highest demand for any given ad spot at any given moment, and return the highest price. This is called holistic optimisation and not all platforms can do this. What’s more, if inventory is split among multiple platforms, the opportunity to exploit the best market conditions is ruled out from the start. So, in terms of tech, video content providers should be looking for a solution that’s not just full-stack, but one that’s holistic as well.

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