Major Publishers Pool Data To Counter Duopoly

Data is the lifeblood of the digital economy, as collecting more information about users allows technology platforms like Google and Facebook to target them with advertising messages evermore precisely.

In a belated effort to even the score with the technology giants, publishers representing a cross-section of the business have partnered with ad-tech firm Sonobi to pool their own data on visitors and subscribers, hoping to offer advertisers scale and specificity to rival the tech giants.

The new data-sharing alliance includes big names like The New York Daily News, The Weather Company and Penske Media, which includes The Robb Report and Variety. All have agreed to pool information about their signed-in users and accompanying data through Sonobi’s addressable ad marketplace. All the publishers belong to the top 250 Web sites as ranked by online traffic, according to measurement firm comScore.

Altogether, Sonobi’s platform, which tracks users online without cookies, now reaches over 150 million unique users, according to the company, including more Americans than Snapchat or Twitter. Sonobi is also touting the transparency of its marketplace, which allows advertisers to place ads directly to reputable sites and guarantees they are delivering ads to real people.



Digital Content Next, a trade association representing premium digital publishers, recently launched its own premium ad exchange, Trust X, offering advertisers access to trusted, brand-safe environments from members including Condé Nast, The Guardian, CBS Interactive, Viacom and NBC Universal.

The news of the new data-sharing alliance comes amid growing concern over the dominant role played by the Google and Facebook tech duopoly in the digital ad marketplace. Together, the tech giants command over 65% of all digital ad dollars spent in the U.S. according to some estimates.

On an ominous note, most industry forecasts have them soaking up an even higher proportion in the future.

At the same time, publishers have seized on recent examples of the platforms serving ads alongside inappropriate content to position themselves as a brand-safe, premium alternative.

This story has been updated.

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