UK advertising alliance drives media publisher revenue

By Danny Spears

The Ozone Project

London, United Kingdom


Following a number of failed industry-wide initiatives, expectations were high when The Ozone Project launched at the Cannes Lions advertising festival in the summer of 2018. This digital advertising alliance between the U.K.’s biggest news publishers has been fully operational for just over three years. 

In that time, Ozone has developed a very clear proposition — fuelled by technology and data — benefitting publishers and brands alike and is now used as a blueprint for success with alliances across the globe.

Ozone is delivering results and attracting publishers thanks to its innovative approach to the ad tech ecosystem.
Ozone is delivering results and attracting publishers thanks to its innovative approach to the ad tech ecosystem.

In creating a marketplace for premium display and video solutions, Ozone is re-engineering the ad tech ecosystem to create more value and controls for both publishers and advertisers — the primary stakeholders in this advertising value exchange. Where ad tech companies may look to extract value from the supply chain, our role — as a publisher-built business — is to help these principles retain as much value as possible.

Three years of premium growth

Built with a fully transparent, privacy-by-design approach, Ozone anticipated much of the legislative and regulatory change on the horizon. We knew the first-party data generated by our publishers would be hugely valuable in a third-party cookie-free world. Advertisers looking for premium inventory and rich data that is both easily accessible and easily activated would come to Ozone — as would publishers needing to maximise the value of their assets to secure a more sustainable digital future.

Ozone was built to be scalable, with the ability to incorporate other premium publishers into the alliance. This has been largely driven by heavy investment in proprietary publisher technology, such as our publisher-centric ID and “smart bidstream” technology.

Today, Ozone’s founding publishers —  News U.K., The Guardian, The Telegraph, and Reach — have been joined by other news and lifestyle publishers such as the Evening Standard, The Independent, Bauer Media, Stylist, City AM, Time Out, HELLO!, and DC Thomson. Together, they deliver a 99% reach of U.K. adults — a monthly scale only seen by the likes of Google, Meta, and Amazon. We now work with more than 250 individual titles, many outside the U.K., using our technology on a white-label basis.

The initial goodwill from the media industry has translated into significant growth. The advertising investment we received from brands in 2021 was up six-fold since our first full year of operation in 2019, with last year’s +75% annual growth recorded at a rate three times faster than the total online display market in the UK.

Bespoke solutions for premium publishers

Our investment in proprietary, premium tools is designed to give more control back to publishers and restore the advertising chain in their favour while at the same time creating scarcity for their inventory and data.

This has delivered a significant impact, with more than a 50% increase in total digital revenue for our publishers, and for our U.K. partners, we’re now the most important revenue source after their own direct-sales teams. Additionally, we’ve built comprehensive service offerings for publishers needing low-resource revenue management, or larger publishers looking to scale monetisation outside of domestic markets.

Ozone is already reaching 99% of the U.K.'s population and envisions more growth in the future..
Ozone is already reaching 99% of the U.K.'s population and envisions more growth in the future..

The biggest indicator of Ozone’s success is the technology partnerships we’ve created with alliances across the world. One recent example of this is our work with the U.S.-based Local Media Consortium, representing 90+ media organizations in North America. We supported the build of their ​​NewsPassID, which in its pilot has shown a 90% uplift in revenue in most cookieless environments.

Ozone is fuelling the development of publisher alliances across the world with our suite of SaaS technology, strategy consulting, and publisher-focused services. Not only does it help reduce the time to market for these powerful collaborations, but it also provides a ready-made blueprint for commercial success. We are excited to be on a journey that is creating more rewards for the brilliant content that news publishers create daily.

About Danny Spears

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