With New Online Marketplace, Print Ads May Have Finally Entered the Programmatic Age
A leading publishing association, BPA Worldwide, announced a partnership today that could be a catalyst for boosting magazine advertising sales across the industry, even for BPA non-members.
Four months ago, I asked this question in a Publishing Executive article: “Why is placing a national ad in multiple magazines still such an arduous, manual process? When are we going to band together and create a multi-publisher system for buying and selling print ads?”
When I wrote that, I thought – and almost wrote – that BPA was the organization best suited to dragging printed magazines into the programmatic age.
It turns out that France-based Adwanted.com, an online marketplace for offline-advertising, had come to the same conclusion and had already been in discussions with the BPA for a year. Today, the two organizations announced an alliance that should make it easy for BPA-member publishers and advertisers to buy and sell print ads, newsletter and event sponsorships, list rentals, and even digital ads via the Adwanted platform.
But it’s not just about the BPA: The Adwanted marketplace is open to all U.S. publishers.
Ad networks only work if they have enough buyers and sellers to create a viable marketplace. With its 3,000-plus publishing brands, plus the active involvement of both advertisers and agencies, the BPA partnership means Adwanted could reach critical mass quickly in the U.S.
For ad agencies, finding relevant magazine brands, selecting from their specific offerings, and buying ads for a multi-publisher campaign could become nearly as easy as shopping on Amazon.
The Adwanted marketplace is already thriving in its home country, with such publications as Elle, Marie Claire, and Paris Match. It also does business in Spain and recently entered Canada via an alliance with Magazines Canada, that country’s major trade association for publishers.
The 800-Pound Gorilla
“We are working with the largest publishers in France. We see them using our platform for almost all of their transactions,” says Joseph Lagani, a veteran U.S. magazine ad executive who heads up Adwanted’s push into the U.S.
What attracted Adwanted to the BPA was the association’s creation of the B2B Media Exchange, which claims to be the first programmatic marketplace for B2B digital ads.
“Frankly, I thought it was brilliant,” Lagani says. “In the B2B world they are the 800-pound gorilla.”
Launched six months ago, the exchange already has “99 sites producing 3.5 million page impressions a week,” with another 75 sites in the onboarding process, says Glenn Hansen, president & CEO of the non-profit auditing and trade association. Even before the exchange launched, Hansen says, BPA members were asking for the ability to automate the buying of print and other offline ads as well.
Neither organization uses the word “programmatic” in explaining the Adwanted marketplace because it does not involve machines selling to machines. Hansen describes the marketplace as “programmanual” – programmatic in the sense that the process of selecting publishers and buying ads is automated, but manual in the sense that humans are not removed from the process. That automation addresses a major weakness that has hindered print advertising: In comparison with competing media, it takes too long, too many emails, and too much paperwork to book a magazine ad.
With the recent double-digit declines in magazine advertising, we could all benefit from an Amazon-style advertising marketplace.
The platform is free for ad buyers. Publishers pay a percentage transaction fee in the single digits, says Lagani. He expects U.S. transactions to start occurring in the 3rd or 4th Quarter, once enough buyers and sellers have signed on and been trained.
Because of the BPA deal, Adwanted’s initial focus in the U.S. is on B2B advertising, but consumer titles are definitely part of the vision. The platforms seems especially well suited to enthusiast, regional, and other niche consumer titles – and perhaps for the regional and demographic editions of big national titles as well.
How It Works
A publisher can load pre-negotiated rates and discounts into Adwanted for its existing customers. That means a publishers’ ad reps can focus on building relationships and presenting a widening array of new products rather than on transactional emails and paperwork, says Lagani.
Member-publisher profiles on the BPA site will include a “Buy Now” button that takes advertisers to the Adwanted platform to complete a transaction. Publishers can also put the same button on their own web site.
A publisher that participates with Adwanted can give an advertiser access to a private marketplace with a customized ratecard and the ability to explore the publisher’s brands, audited circulation data, publication dates, etc. Potential new clients can select from a publisher’s rate card and then click a “Negotiate” button to propose a discount or other special arrangements. That triggers an alert to the publisher.
An advertiser or agency can also use the Adwanted platform to search for publications relevant to their campaign -- such as by industry, audience demographics, and type of media
The default selection is to show only audited media, and an “Audited by BPA” logo will appear next to BPA member titles. Adwanted will also show if a publication’s circulation has been audited by another agency, such as the Alliance for Audited Media.
But by choosing to search for non-audited media as well, an advertiser will be able to see other relevant titles, including some that haven’t signed up for the platform. A publisher that doesn’t have a relationship with Adwanted will be notified when an advertiser wants to do business with it. That means the platform could become a handy tool for advertisers looking for targeted media buys, even from publishers that haven’t signed up with BPA or Adwanted.