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23 May 2019

Campaign: Ozone 'Gaining Traction' With Clients And Agencies

The Ozone Project is "gaining traction with clients and agencies" as the collaborative offering between some national news brands continues to position itself as a trusted, brand-safe and fraud-free alternative to the tech platforms that attracts 42.5 million engaged readers a month.

In a Campaign piece this week, advertisers and agencies reported that the digital platform – a collaboration between News UK, Telegraph Media Group, Reach plc and Guardian Media Group - "couldn’t have come at a better time for marketers" and was delivering results for advertisers that exceeded expectations.

Campaign reported that the results of test campaigns are said to be good. Angela Porter, marketing director of Dunelm, says: "It has certainly delivered reach for us, and the dwell time on the articles [that our ads appeared] around exceeded expectations."

Dunelm recorded increases in preference and consideration and higher conversions from ecommerce transactions on its own site, according to Sam Drake, managing partner at Goodstuff Communications, Dunelm’s agency.

At least half-a-dozen advertisers, including Dunelm, Betfair, William Hill, Quilter and Jet2, are using Ozone to buy and target ads. "We’ve had a lot of direct interest from brands wanting to connect their first-party data to publisher first-party data," Damon Reeve, Ozone chief executive, says.

Still, some of the publishers are impatient for more companies on the buying side, particularly big agency groups, to embrace Ozone. The news publishers have heeded calls to unite their offering, and "we need the market to respond", Piers North, group digital director of Reach, says.

Dominic Carter, News UK group chief commercial officer, is hopeful that Ozone is nearing a "tipping point" with agencies. If there is a reason some buyers and intermediaries may be hesitant, it is that a more direct, transparent relationship between advertisers and publishers potentially threatens the third-party commercial interests.

Ozone is the result of an imperative to clean up digital advertising after the blind programmatic marketplace became "broken and dysfunctional", according to Reeve, with advertisers and agencies focused on audiences, not context.

What’s more, as Hamish Nicklin, chief revenue officer of GNM, puts it, advertisers discovered "there’s a dark side to reach" when they chase scale at the lowest cost and their ads are served next to inappropriate content.

Now advertisers are waking up and "want to see end to end" when it comes to their ad-buying, Nicklin says. Carter adds: "The market just needs to start accepting that the open marketplace is not the place where advertisers should be."

Reeve says the key for publishers is to take more control of data, especially as Apple and others are restricting cookies in browsers. "The primary relationship that Ozone is interested in is connecting first-party data between the brand and the publisher," Reeve says.

Ozone says its initiative is not about cutting costs but rather driving efficiency by eliminating third parties that add no value. "It’s about finding ways to put more money into working media because we all run large news rooms and it’s important we sustain that," Dora Michail, managing director, commercial growth, at Telegraph Media Group,  says.

Sam Taylor, head of group commercial marketing at Direct Line Group, says Ozone "couldn’t have come at a better time for marketers", which want assurance that "their ads will be viewed and placed against quality, engaging, editorial content and in brand safe environments".

Porter likes the way that Dunlem can target a custom audience "who we knew were interested in homewares" via Ozone. "The fact that its whole model is based on contextual relevance made sure we weren’t just looking at demographics," she says. However, she adds that they need more publishers to get involved to ensure the ability to reach new audiences in the future.

Emma Dibben, head of media partner engagement at Wavemaker, says Ozone has had "a halo effect" on news brands and is "gaining traction with clients and agencies".