How French Publishers Reclaimed Programmatic By Creating La Place Media

Fabien Magalon La PlaceFive of the biggest media players in France banded together to create a joint venture, La Place Media, to grow their programmatic revenues through a data-sharing arrangement.

Between its first and second year in operation, the cooperative's programmatic CPMs jumped 70%. It’s a trend that will continue as La Place Media closes out its third year in August.

“2015 will be by far our best year,” said managing director Fabien Magalon. “From starting small, we will do 20 million euros revenue.” La Place Media sees 4 billion impressions a month.

La Place Media was the first in a European market now brimming with publisher co-ops, which have taken root across Europe, where the small country sizes make the value proposition greatest. These include Czech Republic (CPEx), Denmark (DPN) and Greece (where 24Media, DPG, OliveMedia, Adweb, Dolnet, Pegasus and AtticaMedia participate).

The five shareholding publishers involved – TF1 Publicité, Figaro Medias, France Television Publicité, Amaury Médias and Lagardere Publicité – banded together when they realized they couldn’t compete with the scale or data assets of Google or Facebook.

Those scale problems were exacerbated by the small size of French publishers.

In France, even the biggest publishers only have the scale of a medium-sized publisher in the US.

“From that came the idea they would collaborate to reach significant enough scale to emerge and exist in this growing market,” Magalon said.

Through La Place Media, buyers can access all unsold media across its publisher network, which has grown from 120 to more than 250 publishers.

But as programmatic grabs a greater share of revenue, La Place Media is adding a second level of service to its publishers: providing the publishers it works with access to the technology stack it built “so they can start running programmatic themselves, and running programmatic direct,” Magalon said.

La Place Media assembled its technology stack through licensing. “These media companies don’t truly have technology in their DNA, so we license multiple third parties in order to be able to operate our strategy,” Magalon explained.

It uses Rubicon Project as its SSP. For mobile, it uses MoPub and Rubicon. For video, it uses StickyADS.tv. To bring together its data, it leverages nugg.ad and Krux.

But while technology enables La Place Media publishers to make the best of programmatic, Magalon stresses the role people played in its success.

“The top management of each of the shareholding companies had faith in the alliance model, and managed to convince their team that it was the right way to move forward in the new market. There was a strong human factor,” Magalon said.

As La Place Media matures, it plans to strengthen its first-party data assets. Right now it looks at browsing behavior across its sites as well as survey results to sort people into more than 80 categories. But it has opportunities to bring in sites’ logged-in users and encourage more of the people on the platform to identify themselves.

“One of the publishers has 10 million monthly users, but only 1 million of the users in the CRM,” Magalon said. “There is an opportunity for publishers to build strong deterministic data assets that will be able to compete with very strong data assets from the likes of Facebook, Google or large retailers like Amazon.”

The five shareholding companies all run large newspapers, magazines or TV stations. La Place Media “could look at how to duplicate the opportunity in the offline world, on something like programmatic print,” Magalon said.

It also wants to unify operations.

“There is a big expectation for publishers for a unified platform that combines programmatic, guaranteed and programmatic non-guaranteed, and web, mobile and video,” he said.

La Place Media will choose opportunities provided they drive back to its original objective: increased revenue.

“La Place Media is owned by publishers and our job is to make as much money as possible for the publishers,” Magalon said. “So far all the profit we’ve been making has been reinvested into innovation and into reducing the fees we charge the publishers, [but the end goal is where] most of the money we make is sent back to them in net revenues.”

 

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