online publishers

What Pangaea Means For Programmatic

keith_lorizioDo we still need additional evidence that programmatic is now a truly mainstream tactic? Probably not. After all, spending on programmatic in the U.S. is expected to reach $20 billion  by the end of next year. Still, if there are any lingering doubts about the enormous impact programmatic is having on the industry as a whole, then the news of the Pangaea Alliance should put them to rest.

Announced last month, Pangaea is a joint project of The Guardian, CNN International, The Financial Times, and Reuters. The four giants of online news are now offering programmatic marketers centralized access to their combined audience — believed to be 110 million unique users. More impressive still, The Economist, Hearst UK, and Time Inc. are also said to be joining in. In other words, Pangaea is as clear a sign as possible that the leaders in online publishing now fully grasp the importance of programmatic to the future of advertising.

It’s About the Data

The great value of Pangaea, to be clear, is about more than just access to quality inventory at scale on premium sites. Programmatic advertising is only as good as the data that powers it. And marketers buying through Pangaea will have access to the combined first-party data of the participating publishers.

As Tim Gentry, global revenue director at Guardian News & Media, explained to The Wall Street Journal, the data is a crucial part of the Pangaea offering. Gentry offered the example of a marketer using subscription information from one publisher together with behavioral information from other publishers to create a detailed profile of a given user.

The emphasis on the data offering is another reminder of just how far programmatic has come from its early years, when it was almost synonymous with Site Retargeting – the practice of showing ads to users who have already visited your site. Site Retargeting is still a valuable tool, but for companies interested in acquiring new customers, there’s now far more data available for targeting than ever before.

Pangaea, in yet another reflection of how far programmatic has come, will also offer native advertising programs  across the participating sites. And while some purists may question whether programmatic and native can truly coexist, it’s very possible for brands to offer programmatic inventory that has the look and feel of the content offerings of a given site. Pangaea is particularly exciting as a native programmatic offering because the more publishers that work together to standardize native units, the easier it becomes to do native at scale.

The Brand Advertising Factor

There are plenty of reasons top publishers continue to see so much value in programmatic’s future, but the biggest one may be this: Brand advertisers, the last holdouts in the programmatic revolution, are now getting on board — and in a big way.

Last year Procter & Gamble announced that 70 percent of its digital media spend would be dedicated to programmatic. Not to be outdone, Unilever and Kimberly-Clark are also among the brand advertisers making noise in programmatic. Marketers at these and other brand advertising giants have come to appreciate that programmatic is no longer just for direct-response campaigns. With more and more premium sites, such as those in Pangaea, dedicating valuable inventory to programmatic, it only makes sense that brand advertisers would also want to take advantage of programmatic’s unique efficiency.

Pangaea isn’t the first private exchange to come along, and it certainly won’t be the last. But in the quality of its publishers and the size of its inventory, it’s an important development. And, yes, it’s also one more reminder that programmatic has hit the big time.

Keith Lorizio serves as Chief Revenue Officer at Chango, a programmatic advertising company, purpose-built for the marketer. He is a senior level executive in digital advertising with 20 years of experience leading high performing sales teams. Prior to Chango, Keith was most recently Vice President of US Sales and Marketing for the Advertising & Online organization at Microsoft.