With tech giants like Google and Facebook taking the lion’s share of digital ad dollars, media alliances are forming to challenge the behemoths. Participants heard about two of these alliances during INMA’s Media Innovation Week in Hamburg on Tuesday afternoon.

The Ozone Project is a joint venture between four of the largest U.K. publishers: The Guardian, News UK, The Telegraph, and Reach.

“The mission of Ozone is to create and pass back as much of the value generated back to the publisher,” Danny Spears, commercial and operations director, said.

Danny Spears, commercial and operations director of The Ozone Project, describes the four-news brand joint venture.
Danny Spears, commercial and operations director of The Ozone Project, describes the four-news brand joint venture.

While many publishers are enjoying growth in engagement, they are losing revenue due to a disconnect between value creation and value they are being recognised for, Spears said. He gave four reasons for this disconnect:

  • Platform dominance.
  • Unhealthy relationships between publishers and vendors.
  • Publisher divisions that create a lack of voice and influence.
  • Data leakage.

Spears then outlined four things publishers need to do to act against this:

  • Control to prime reactors. For publishers, it’s about giving marketers control over the supply chain.
  • Put reader back at the center of publishers’ universe. This brings an incredible opportunity for publishers.
  • Remove friction for marketers. Publishers talk about quality and how news brands matter to them, but they also talk about they are addicted to the ease of working with platforms.
  • Harness network effects. Ozone asserts the need for publishers to find common framework and tech around which they can align.

On that last note, Spears said collaboration is key to harness the network effect: “We believe publishers have got to be standing together to have a chance.”

Carsten Schwecke, chief executive officer of Media Impact, agrees that collaboration is the only way news media companies can push back against the pressure they are under.

Carsten Schwecke, chief executive officer of Media Impact, explains this Axel Springer and Funke partnership..
Carsten Schwecke, chief executive officer of Media Impact, explains this Axel Springer and Funke partnership..

Media Impact bundles together the national media marketing offerings from Axel Springer and Funke. The company is based on four pillars that differentiate the company from its “frenemies” — trust, traffic, tech, and solutions, Schweke said.

Media Impact is now concentrated on coordinated agency frameworks. In the digital age, news company’s enemies are not other news companies but platforms. News companies must work together to challenge their power, Schweke said: “We should combine forces to make the lives of the ‘Googles’ more difficult.”