The Newsroom allows publishers to create private, invitation-only, content exchanges, with other like-minded publishers that they trust, while keeping control of exchange rates for audiences they refer and accept, according to the company.
The company reports it made “a conscious decision” to create a single platform to oversee all assets, from the homepage headline, native placements and content recommendations to the display and video ad inventory.
“We believe in an unified RTB auctioning for all touchpoints, whether the bidding parties are journalists, advertisers or external trusted publishers,” Karen Bart, senior vice president, said in a press statement.
The built-in DSP features connectivity to exchanges such as Rubicon Project, Pubmatic, Google or Yahoo. The platform also enables media sales teams to set up self-service or private-marketplace environments for display or native units, and extend reach into RTB-enabled impressions.
The platform has been in private beta with a select number of publishers in Singapore, the US and South Africa and is today becoming available in all markets, with local representation in New York, Singapore, Bucharest, Madrid and Johannesburg.
In response to queries by Campaign Asia-Pacific, CEO Mihai Fanache said the company is in contact with most medium and large Singaporean publishers, though he did not mention which publishers were part of the beta phase.
When asked about current brands or publishers on board, he said the team is “currently introducing our offering with all major stakeholders in the market.”
“Our value propositions make a lot more sense under a ‘network effect’, so getting as many relevant parties on board is key,” he said. Publishers the company currently works with include Forbes, Glamour and Fox.
Fanache declined to disclose revenue numbers but said the company is profitable and planning all future investments “with that in mind as a top priority.”
A different angle to programmatic
Fanache said DSPs have “really negated the value of the content and the good standing with consumers [publishers] have established”. Publishers who opened up some of their previously unsold inventory to “performance advertising” came under pressure to open up all of their inventory and ended up with "a fraction of the advertiser spend that they would have otherwise gotten,” he said.
The approach with the new platform, said Fanache, is allowing publishers to create a private marketplace and value their content amongst their peers.
According to Fanache, this concept takes away the arbitrage-effect of forcing high-value publishers to accept articles that they may not otherwise want, while also providing strong value to consumers.
“With The Newsroom, what we do differently is allow publishers to create a private marketplace and value their content amongst their peers,” he said. “The ability then to monetise that gained traffic and value that becomes an ability to determine for a publisher the ad tech that they adopt.”
Asked what the pitch to brands and agencies is, Fanache said it allows publishers to better service brands and agencies with an in-house programmatic platform.
Such platforms have traditionally been designed "for the 'traders' out there, and never purposely laid out for the publisher", he added. “So our platform is to be introduced to brands and agencies by the publishers.”
That said, the company is looking to strengthen relationships with buyers and publishers via its Newsroom Brand Studio initiative, a content-creation arm that's helping all sides with “high-quality brand storytelling”. For now, it focuses on two areas, food and beauty.
Something for content creators
The new platform marks a new offering from the company which was founded in 2012 and in 2014 launched its automated display advertising platform, Private Marketplace, which enabled publishers to build a private or public storefront atop their existing ad platform.
“The Newsroom goes beyond ad-tech (display/video ads) and into content optimization, recommendations and native advertising,” said Fanache. “That's a massive upgrade and engineering effort to keep all assets under the same roof.”
The company has a 360-journey website to further showcase its offering.
The added features around content are touted to enable publishers and journalists to “push their best work to The Newsroom, and into a company-wide supply of recommendations and editorial placements.”
“Stories will automatically find their best inventory, sections and audiences and will only deliver for as long as they are relevant,” the company said.
Fanache said observations revealed a high level of frustration from journalists who have been unable to "surface their best stories."
“As content keeps piling up, think Facebook or the site's homepage, there's actually a very limited amount of bandwidth and leeway for such reports to go big,” he said. “Hence the new junk-food content economy, where they eventually chose quantity over quality in the fight for readers attention.”
In this context, the platform is intended to allow journalists to place their bets on specific stories they want to promote, be it internally or externally, and schedule those just like a regular ad-campaign (e.g., I want 5,000 readers over 24 hours).
Fanache described the offering as “similar to Outbrain, Taboola and similar companies but with a much higher level of control and granularity”, adding that readers can be segmented based on those that have previously engaged with specific stories, prioritizing further related content for those users.
“That's really the core of our programmatic / data-driven journalism approach,” he said.
Fanache is bullish on the platform’s appeal to the Asia-Pacific region, describing it as a “unique region with fantastic opportunities as well as challenges”, just given the diversity of markets.
“Despite the diversity, APAC is home to very strong small set of publishers in each marketplace, and whilst there is a certain level of fragmentation occurring, we believe that The Newsroom will find and create value for all of them,” he added. “Our plans very much are to enter the more tech savvy marketplaces first and establish a strong presence there whilst building out alongside the more developing marketplaces in the region."