Ozone Project CEO eyes magazine publishers in the long term
As the Ozone Project signs up its fourth newsbrand, the CEO of the new digital sales house has said he is gearing up to woo magazine publishers.
Speaking to Mediatel at Dmexco 2018, Damon Reeve said if the Ozone Project is of interest to other publishers, he wants to be able to support them.
“We’re reactively pursuing the magazine publishers right now,” he said. “But will be actively pursuing them in future.”
The project - which has been developed in response to industry-wide concerns across the digital advertising market around brand safety, data governance, lack of transparency in the supply chain and ad fraud – has already signed up News UK, Reach, The Telegraph Media Group and The Guardian News & Media.
Reeve, who also confirmed he is in discussions with most of the major agency groups and a handful of brands, said trial campaigns will begin running next month before the project formally launches at the end of the year. For now, however, the focus is to “get the basics right” and “create value” for the existing stakeholders.
After that, Reeve confirmed, “there’s always been a plan to broaden that out and invite other publishers to use the platform and participate in the audience proposition – because, for the most part, all publishers are going to almost certainly be aligned to the principles of why we’re doing Ozone in the first place.”
Reeve, who previously founded ad network Unanimis and ran the technology business for OpenX, said that with the current list of stakeholders the Ozone Project will be able to offer advertisers and agencies "direct and transparent" access to a digital audience of more than 42.5 million British consumers - a monthly UK reach on par with Facebook.
“The more publishers who use the same framework – and I deliberately call it a framework rather than technology, as it’s a way of working – the greater the voice publishers can have in this ecosystem. We want publishers to be a primary decision maker in a market where they are on the periphery...and if the Ozone Project is of interest to other publishers, we want to be able to support them.”
Reeve added that he wants to remove the “friction” buyers currently experience, making the Ozone Project as simple to use as platforms such as Facebook, which has hoovered up much of the adspend that might have traditionally gone to publishers.
“The difference is, we provide the transparency and trusted environments,” Reeve said.
Asked to outline the risks of the project, Reeve said there was often a disconnect between the attitudes of CMOs and media buyers, which requires a strategy of “evangelising” to overcome.
Reeve said CMOs, who were usually older, tend to have grown up with a newspaper and still value newsbrands highly. Whereas media buyers tend to be younger and less enamoured.
"Our job is to evangelise the [premium news] environment and the provenance of content and the benefits that brings,” he said.
The project, which only took hold after a series of false starts, will remain digital only, however Reeve said, speculatively, the project could adapt into different areas.
“You have to walk before you can run,” he said. “But we don’t know what the future holds, and we might adapt into different areas. For now none of those things are in scope, but there’s an opportunity to do a lot more once you’re working from a successful foundation."
Mediatel contacted three major magazine publishers for this article, Bauer and Hearst declined to comment, Conde Nast did not reply.