Schibsted shares 4 key lessons from its private programmatic marketplace

By Mark Toner

Editor’s note: This is one of 11 case studies featured in INMA’s strategic report “Programmatic Advertising Opportunities for Publishers,” released in September.

Creating a private marketplace has minimised disruption to traditional online advertising and increased CPMs.

As it began exploring programmatic sales, Schibsted Media Group opted to create a private marketplace to ensure higher CPMs and “to not disrupt the regular business,” says Svein Eriksen, CEO of Schibsted Norge Salg (Schibsted Norway Sales).

Schibsted’s foray into programmatic began with separate efforts in Norway and Sweden in 2012.

“We used most of 2012 to work on the strategy and to talk to the customers, the agencies, and the rest of the market,” Eriksen says. “This was to ensure that our approach and ideas would work.”

Schibsted Norway Sales’ private marketplace is invitation-only, and “each of the clients has to be approved, Eriksen says. Combining the media group’s inventory into a single marketplace was necessary to ensure that real-time bidding offered enough options to satisfy advertisers. “This can only be done by having a company-wide strategy,” Eriksen says.

The company’s first campaign was launched in November 2013 after it got its technology provider, Appnexus, up and running. Since then, the most significant impact of the exchange has been competition between direct campaigns and programmatic ones, which has driven up CPMs in both cases.

Says Eriksen: “Don’t listen to the ones who say RTB is just for low CPMs. We’ve proven them wrong.”

Schibsted remains in the “test and learn” stage.

“The original strategy hasn’t changed much, but it’s taking a much longer time to conduct and implement it,” Eriksen says. “The most important thing right now is sharing the results and lessons learned, both internally and externally.” 

Among the company’s biggest lessons to date:

  • The lack of standards in RTB technology remains a critical challenge. “Not all the demand-side platforms, supply-side platforms, and exchanges ‘speak’ the same language,” Eriksen says.

  • Ownership of data is critical. “This is what fuels the RTB business,” Eriksen says. “We believe that the publishers own their own data, and have the right to decide where and how that data is being monetised.” To that end, Schibsted Norway Sales uses a revenue-sharing model with its publishers on all audience-based advertising sales using first-party data. 

  • Automated markets must be built collaboratively with buyers and sellers. “To do that, we need transparency and open dialogue,” he says.

  • Critical mass matters. Even though Schibsted’s private marketplace remains invitation-only, the key to the company’s strategy has been aggregating both inventory and advertiser demand. 

“To find the right user at the right time, you need a large amount of inventory to choose between. And to get the auction model to work, you need a lot of buyers that compete,” Eriksen says. “By being the largest Norwegian exchange, we believe that the Holy Grail of both publishers and buyers being satisfied is possible.” 

About Mark Toner

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