Rick Mulia
Nov 14, 2016

The beauty of the publisher co-operative

Are publisher co-operatives the way forward for Asia's fiercely independent publishers fighting for better digital revenues? Rubicon Project’s Rick Mulia thinks so.

Rick Mulia
Rick Mulia

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a global trend of publisher co-operatives emerging in the UK, US, South Africa, Czech Republic and France; and in the last twelve months New Zealand and Japan have both launched on our platform with their own co-ops—KPEX and DELTA respectively. 

Without exception these co-ops are punching above their weight due to the fact that they each have the major premium publishers in their country on board truly providing great benefits for ad buyers. So it surprises me that there aren’t more ad co-ops in Asia Pacific (APAC).

Of course there’s a secret sauce element in any successful co-op. The publishers involved must have exclusive access to the inventory that is to be sold programmatically, to enable them to control rates and avoid cannibalisation. It’s also crucial for each co-operative to remain independent to its stakeholders so that no one stakeholder may yield more power than other members of the co-op.

Some locally may see these elements as too high a barrier to entry but the global success numbers are compelling. The first publisher co-op, La Place Media in France, has now been operational for just over two years and reaches 70 percent of France’s online population. In its second year, La Place Media reported a 70 percent increase in CPMs and achieved revenues of €20 million (US$22.18 million).

Meanwhile, the Czech Publisher Exchange (CPEx) which launched around September 2013 now achieves over 1.7 billion impressions per month – equivalent to 200 impressions per user, each month. Recently, CPEx has seen a 500 percent increase in revenue year-on-year from private marketplaces (PMPs) and a 280 percent increase in revenue from high-impact formats.

The launch in March of the DELTA Publisher Alliance, the 12th co-operative worldwide powered by Rubicon Project, is a huge step for the robust Japanese market and a move that will help fuel the growth of digital ad spend there.

Japanese publishers in DELTA can now make their entire mobile, app and desktop inventory available to advertisers through a programmatic platform, allowing them to access demand from thousands of the world’s leading advertisers.

In New Zealand, KPEX has had a pretty phenomenal first year with its four major publishers – Fairfax Media, MediaWorks, NZME and TVNZ – pooling their digital inventory to provide the necessary scale for a private marketplace. KPEX reaches 70 percent of the New Zealand population, with 1.1 million unique users per day across desktop and mobile. That’s a pretty major footprint amongst some huge media owners for a pretty small population. 

Four more publishers are soon to be announced, which will further enhance the scale and combined power of the co-op. This uniquely collaborative advertising co-operative has enabled these publishers to compete effectively for digital budgets on an international scale by pooling and packaging first-party data along with their inventory, to offer advertisers access to finely targeted audiences, bought programmatically, at scale.

So what’s holding back the publishers in other Asia Pacific countries? Currently, few are willing to relinquish their independence and collaborate with competing publishers. On the surface, this is understandable, however we only have to look at the likes of KPEX, La Place Media and DELTA to see how these co-ops are sustaining, if not growing, their share of digital revenue against the digital giants, namely Facebook and Google.

APAC publishers that have retained their independence do so for their own valid reasons – but there is a great deal to be said about the fruitfulness that programmatic trading offers at scale within a co-operative.

Global experience is suggesting there is more beyond this, particularly when you consider that one of the key annoyances for advertising buyers is the lack of efficiency and huge fragmentation in the market. Buyers are telling us they are looking for scale solutions to create greater competition – and perhaps the APAC market will step up to meet the opportunity it has been presented.

Rick Mulia is the managing director for JAPAC at Rubicon Project

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