Guardian spearheads launch of global premium programmatic private marketplace

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 18 March 2015

The Guardian, in partnership with CNN International, the Financial Times, The Economist and Reuters, has launched a global programmatic private marketplace, named the Pangaea Alliance, which will allow advertisers to buy to the publishers' premium advertising inventory programmatically.

The Pangaea Alliance commences beta testing of its format next month.

Duncan Arthur, commercial director for Guardian Australia told AdNews that the partnership between the publishers has been in the works for the past year and aims to work with top-tier advertisers - although he said plans are also afoot to introduce tier-two options.

“With the Pangaea Alliance the opportunity is to work with a smaller group of very premium advertisers who want to buy into the program at scale,” Arthur said.

Arthur explained that while there are currently no advertisers signed up to work with the alliance, there has been a trial with a big advertiser in the finance sector in Australia that gave the alliance a brief to focus solely around 'brand safety'.

“We did a trial just before Christmas with a major finance brand,” he said. “They were really concerned about brand safety, concerned would be an understatement. They did not want their brand in risky or dubious environments, that was the brief.”

The Pangaea Alliance will work with the publishers via the Rubicon Project technology platform and during its beta phase Pangaea will offer display solutions both as a standalone product, alongside existing publisher initiatives including native advertising programmes and publisher trading desks.

When asked about why businesses which would traditionally be viewed as rivals would want to partner up in such a way, Arthur explained that it's about future proofing their businesses and sometimes its better to work together, rather than against each other - despite being deemed as rivals with some of the partners.

“I suppose they all suffer from a similar paranoia, about what the big guys could do to their business, the really big guys, like what can a Google do?” he said.

“It's really those big powerful digital players which could make life really difficult for traditional publishers, who are big, and have really established brands with huge reputations, but they're often coming from legacies that have a print background. They want to make sure that their future is protected.

Arthur added: “I suspect there’s some logic there where you all realise that you share some common ground and that as difficult as the conversations are going to be they're definitely worth having. To all win together, is better than all being taken apart by the big guys.”

The Guardian Australia will be the lead sellers of the Pangaea Alliance in Australia, until the global sales team becomes established and Arthur told AdNews that the publisher is currently in talks with other publishers in the Australian market to see if they are interested in joining the Alliance.

“We've been speaking to local publishers to ask them if they want to join,” he said. “What we have is the foundation partners who we work with on global level, which is going to be a much longer process going on there, but there’s a second tier of publishers which we can invite in to get involved in the project. They may not be global but in this market they meet every other criteria.

“They're brand safe, they’ve got a quality audience and some of the guys we've spoken to have fantastic inventory and they know they need to prepare for programmatic and they don't necessarily have those resource and we say: 'We can help you'.”

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