Toby Ross is Head of Strategic Alliances at Fairfax Media. Here he discusses the new audience extension partnership with Google, as Fairfax looks to leverage its audience across dynamic inventory, and whether this move is a precursor to the launch of a Publisher Trading Desk in the market.
Can you give some overview on the targeting you can now offer agencies in terms of audience extension across inventory?
Understanding our audiences is a key priority for Fairfax. Given the scope of our digital network –which includes leading news, classified and transactional sites – we understand who are audiences are and where their interests lie. Additionally, with a large number of offline subscribers, we are able to aggregate and de-duplicate data sets across all mediums. We’ve offered behavioural targeting products to our clients for some time and these products have become more sophisticated as new technologies have entered the market. Initially we limited targeting to Fairfax owned and operated inventory but last year started extending these audiences across our proprietary network – drx – creating a new tier of products. This was the first step in transitioning from a traditional network to a fully fledged audience platform and, given the demand for our audiences, we’ve built out a strategy to further extend these audiences across brand safe third party media.
Is this just confined to video – or is online and mobile display included too?
As mentioned above we have been offering display based behavioural targeting products off network for some time and the natural progression was to extend to video. Mobile targeting is exclusively across our owned and operated properties.
For those unaware of the drx audience platform, how does it work?
In 2010 we launched drx in partnership with ValueClick Media who are our exclusive supplier of display inventory. Owning a network made more sense to us than having third party networks arbitrage our assets. Initially offering a range of direct response products, drx has evolved to include multiple products and platforms to compliment Fairfax’s overall offering. These products include extending Fairfax’s audiences off network.
How does an agency buy through the drx platform? Are you selling it into agencies? Or is it an automated buy through Agency Trading Desks/ DSPs?
At this stage our sales teams are offering this product through the traditional buyer/planner route. We’ve been in trials with a number of ATDs for some time now and are still in the process of working out the best outcome for both parties. To date a combination of technology limitations and commercial realities has meant that it hasn’t made sense to open the floodgates. drx is bucking the trend in terms of network growth in Australia (i.e. it is positive) and it has an extremely important part to play in our business, particularly given the understanding we have of our audiences.
Are you looking to flesh this out further and integrate other supply sources? Will Fairfax build out a functional Publisher Trading Desk to augment reach and take advantage of dynamic supply in the market for both retargeting and prospecting?
Given the huge demand for audience based buying we’re exploring all avenues to ensure that we can meet our client’s needs. With the unique dynamic in our local market it makes sense for publishers with data at scale to explore new ways in which to provide marketers with access to the audiences they value.
What has been the reaction of the buy-side (agencies in particular) around this new Fairfax strategy?
The reaction has been hugely positive with clients immediately seeing the value in what we are trying to achieve.
Will we see more innovation like this from publishers in Australia?
Definitely. Fairfax is in a great position due to the depth of our assets and having been an early mover in this space but I think we’ll see the competition ramp up quickly this year.