Gravity alliance, Skyline coalition, News Media Alliance: the force awakens?

Media Consulting 20 July 2017

Media publishers are joining forces against the Google-Facebook empire on the advertising market.

These groups share one goal: develop more attractive offers for advertisers, and regain control of certain operations on the digital media buying chain. They ultimately hope to win back some advertising budgets, 70% of which are currently captured by the two American giants. The new partnerships also want to provide an alternative to advertisers.

It’s an age-old strategy: strength (and survival!) in numbers. But these alliances are choosing models that are each quite different: how so, and why?

In France, the Gravity alliance project is more ambitious in the medium-term, focusing on cross-referencing data

This alliance includes two dozen members (including media outlets, telecom company SFR, and even the FNAC-Darty group). Each member improves its own user knowledge thanks to the wealth, diversity, and size of the group. Be aware, though, that data is not shared nor exchanged – each player remains master and sole activator of its own data on its own inventory through its own DMP. However, each player can qualify and segment data in greater detail thanks to information gathered from others, cross-checked via a “Gravity cross-DMP” (acting as a search index).
For members of the alliance, the interest of this kind of project is to be able to give advertisers more precise and comprehensive targeting possibilities that are currently impossible given insufficient volume or too-specific audiences.

It will also be the chance to decrease reliance on third-party players in the media buying chain, by making this new offer available only through their own “Gravity DSP”.
At the same time, this will provide a new source of revenue (members pay each other within the group, depending on their contribution to the qualification of other members’ data). It’s a kind of give and take relationship, which is also appearing among advertisers through second-party data deals, opting to create partnerships with trustworthy players instead of calling on third-party data which is sometimes of questionable quality.

With Skyline, French media giants Le Figaro and Le Monde decide to keep to themselves

In developing a common marketplace, they are counting on their current clout: covering 80% of French Internet users, the brands are capitalising on their super-premium environment and will give easy and standardised access to their inventories, as well as uniform costs and ad placements. There are no big promises regarding data for the time being, as the platform is more oriented towards branding strategies, ensuring advertisers that their ads are displayed in a qualitative environment and reaching the desired audiences. By taking back their inventories, they have freed themselves from middlemen such as Teads, advideum, or Madvertise, whose contracts will not be renewed. They will thus automatically recover between 10 and 30% of their inventory’s value, which will increase both their independence and their advertising revenue. Unsold ad placements will be redistributed to other market places or in header bidding.

The latest example of the anti-Google/Facebook rebellion: News Media Alliance in the US

This American coalition includes 2,000 outlets – including heavy hitters such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. This group is not about data or technology sharing, unlike the two aforementioned French projects, and is instead a political action committee. It is demanding a change in the anti-trust law that currently prevents media outlets from joining forces on the market. The group’s goal is to have more weight when it comes time to negotiate rates with Google and Facebook, so that members can make a greater margin on advertising investments made in their own outlets, ultimately ensuring a high level of quality for their content and helping the world of journalism itself to flourish.

For advertisers, the value propositions are very appealing: a simplified media-buying supply chain, greater independence from adtech giants, refined targeting and brand safety, and guaranteed content quality.
Beta versions of Skyline and Gravity will launch by the end of the year. It remains to be seen if such unions (which prove that a real split already exists within the world of French media) will have the means, technology, and governance to go up against the growing empire of web giants. To be continued…

Translated from the original French by Niamh Cloughley.

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