Okay, we all know the facts: walled gardens are eating the lunches of publishers and tech vendors. Whether or not that is actually the case, that is certainly the feeling by many and as a result, this sentiment is driving a movement of collaboration never seen before in the advertising industry.

Not only do walled gardens provide a cross-screen deterministic view of their users, but they also provide a rich set of first party data to target them against. This, you could argue, is the exact reason they are doing so well, because they drive traffic for publishers and ROI for advertisers. So why is there negativity around their growth from many in the market? Is it envy, is it fear, or is it for other justified reasons…

If you are not glued to the adtech trade press, it might help to have a quick overview of why walled gardens are perceived to be precarious partners for publishers, brands and Adtech vendors at the moment:

  • Publishers – They face slowly being disintermediated from their readers, as more and more of their content is being consumed outside of their owned and operated controls.
  • Adtech vendors – They will slowly lose the ability to manage holistic reach, frequency and attribution across their automated buys when each walled garden removes their support for the cookie or device ID, and migrates to their own proprietary cross-screen ID.
  • CMO’s – They will struggle to extract post-impression intelligence from each vendor into their DMP’s. This restriction around data portability will hinder their ability to build informed and unified global programmatic buying strategies.

Okay, so how is the industry working together to ensure they are not completely disintermediated from their audiences or advertising budgets of yesteryear?

Publisher Alliances via Third Party Tech
A relatively common practice now for big publishers to form cooperatives. Many have formed these partnerships to bundle inventory and data within controlled environments that enable them to compete with walled gardens directly rather than in a fragmented way and amongst themselves for a smaller share of the budget.

Some of big ones that spring to mind include the following:

  • The Pangaea Alliance – Collaborating publishers inc The Guardian, Reuters, FT, CNN, The Week and others. Historically made available to programmatic buyers through market leading supply-side platform The Rubicon Project.
  • Symmachia – Publishers included at launch were Telegraph Media Group, Future, Dennis, ESI, Auto Trader and others. AppNexus were originally selected to power this alliance.
  • LaPlace Media – One of the first in Europe to form and had at one point close to 250 publishers included and a 70 per cent reach of the French online population. This gives you some sense as to why publishers working collectively helps to pull budgets away from the walled gardens who leverage their scale and reach. LaPlace was originally powered by The Rubicon Project.
  • J-PAD – Launched in 2016 with six of Japan’s premium publishers – AFPBB News, Forbes JAPAN, JBpress, Mediagene, Perform Group and Toyo Keizai. This alliance is powered by PubMatic. (Continued…)
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