Publisher ad cooperatives: Behind the scenes of Pangaea Alliance

More and more publishers around the world are partnering to create broader, fuller cross-publication advertising opportunities. WAN-IFRA is currently working on a report about how these alliances have come together, how they work and what levels of success they are having.

by Brian Veseling | March 9, 2018

The Pangaea Alliance, launched in 2015, is among the world’s largest digital advertising alliances. It is made up of a group of major publishers, including the Guardian, CNN, The Week, Reuters, Fast Company and Inc, among others.

With a reported reach of more than 200 million readers in 180 countries and 3 billion ad impressions a month, Pangaea says it “offers agencies and advertisers the best possible environment and opportunity to reach customers without the worries.”

In this edited interview, Fiona McKinnon, Pangaea’s General Manager, tells us how the alliance works, some of its challenges and how she defines success. McKinnon will also be speaking at WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Europe conference in April in Copenhagen.

WAN-IFRA: How does Pangaea work? For example, how much regular contact do you have with your publishers and how involved are they?

McKinnon: Pangaea is a media collaboration between some of the world’s leading publishers. We are integrated into header bidder and data solutions that combine the inventory and audiences of our partners to create a unique, brand safe and scalable audience for advertisers. We work closely with our publisher teams, (Sales, Execs and Ops) to share revenue updates, industry feedback, tech updates and so on. Although Pangaea sells the majority of campaigns directly, when appropriate for the brief, publisher teams can also include Pangaea into their pitches.

What were some of the main challenges you had in setting up Pangaea, and what are some of your on-going challenges?

The main challenge in the early days was in building trust across the Alliance members that Pangaea was not a threat or replacement to their own programmatic costs (ad tech, etc.). We operate on percentage fee basis. Our expenses are lean; ad tech and staff are the main costs. We do not retain a profit as Pangaea, we pass revenue back to publishers.

Are you still adding publishers? How does that process work?

Yes, we are actively speaking to add Premium Publishers this year to the Alliance. Partners are selected according to their content and audience fit with the other members of the Alliance. We have a clear position in the market and our continued offering needs to reflect that (Business, Finance, High Net Worth, Tech Decision Makers, Luxury Brands). We evaluate the opportunity, understand the objectives of the Partner in joining the Alliance and as an exec team (made up of members from each Pub) we vote on membership.

In terms of success, how do you define it? What’s a successful quarter or year for Pangaea?

We are run the same as any other media business. Success for Pangaea comes in hitting revenue goals for our publishers through driving new, incremental business, creating a valued buying proposition for advertisers and the ease of operations.

What can you say about how much publishers are reaping from this vs. from their own efforts?

Each publisher has a different level of success and membership objective depending on their own business size and structure. Our job is to appreciate their business and understand their goals, all whilst making the process as light touch as possible for the publisher teams. We do not replace their own efforts, we are a complimentary and incremental source of demand.

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