- New York Media, PopSugar and Rolling Stone are the latest publishers to join Concert, the Vox Media-operated digital advertising marketplace, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. The new publishers allow Concert to sell digital ads across 122 million unduplicated, unique visitors on 40 websites in an attempt to compete with Facebook and Google.
- Concert targets audiences through broad categories, like women’s lifestyle, sports and C-suite, that correspond to one of the sties in its network. C-suite includes sites like Quartz, Recode, Vox, Verge and CNBC, for example. Ad revenue is shared with the publishers in the network.
- Concert, a joint venture of Vox Media and Comcast’s NBCUniversal, lags behind Facebook and Google in the size of its global audience. Facebook has said it has 2.2 billion monthly users as of April, according to the report. The publishers involved in the marketplace do not pool their first-party data, which limits the ability to target audiences at the same level as the tech giants.
Facebook and Google, often referred to as the digital advertising duopoly, continue to dominate the space, with their combined share of the U.S. digital ad spend expected to reach 56.8% in 2018, according to eMarketer. Publishers are seeing alliances such as Concert as one way to compete with the duopoly. The publishers involved with the Concert alliance are leveraging their ability to target the niche audiences of the various publications represented to draw advertisers.
Publishers looking to grab more digital ad investment are hoping for an advantage by focusing their efforts on transparency, areas where both Google and Facebook have struggled. Facebook has been dealing with the growing backlash of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and how it handled the personal information of millions of users. Google has undergone several brand safety controversies involving its YouTube video platform, where ads appeared next to unsavory content.
Concert’s ability to target specific sites’ audiences using broad categories could also help advertisers appeal to consumers, who want brands to offer them relevant, personalized messages.
The growth of Concert and Vox’s commitment to adding more publishers to the group is one of several initiatives attempting to take on the Facebook-Google duopoly. German media company Axel Springer, owner of Business Insider, and Norwegian media group Schibsted said they were teaming up with AppNexus to endorse the IAB Transparency and Consent Framework to compete with Facebook and Google ahead of GDPR implementation. In the U.S., Gannett, McClatchy, Hearst and the former Tribune Publishing formed ad sales network Nucleus Marketing Solutions in 2016, and several publishers created an automated ad sales collaboration Pangea, according to the Journal.