The credentials of the recently announced Pangaea Alliance have been brought into question over claims that success with premium programmatic marketplaces cannot be tracked accurately.

Mike Hannon, vice president of yield and revenue optimisation at Purch, argues that the significance of a deal between The Guardian, CNN, Reuters and the FT to put items of their inventory up for programmatic sale may be a result of clever rhetoric from the publications involved. 

“As I see it, this is really just marketing spin,” said Hannon, whose company drives over 100 million unique monthly visitors to its network of digital publications.    

“Buyers are still trying to understand premium programmatic. The benefits, such as scale and the ability to limit the amount of sellers that they’re working with, are really compelling both operationally and from an ROI perspective. But, from the conversations I’ve had, metrics to measure success are still very hazy today. 

“With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how this new alliance actually performs.”

A level playing field?

The groups announced last week that they would be looking to create a premium marketplace which hands advertisers an opportunity to bid on inventory in brand-safe environments.

In a gutsy move, The Guardian said that it was hoping take a swipe at the likes of Facebook and Microsoft and the “drain of ad spend” to the tech giants.

But Hannon believes the methods of measuring success could prevent the partnership from getting an edge on the competition. Not only this, there are also questions raised about whether some publishers will come away from the deal with better earnings than others.

“For instance, does one publisher end up getting the majority of the spend because they have overlap related to targeting?,” asks Hannon. “That isn’t clear and buyers will want to know more.”

Alliances spring up 

Premium programmatic marketplaces have been at the forefront of industry discussion this month. Days after The Guardian’s initiative was announced in beta form, AppNexus was named as the tech provider for a similar partnership with groups belonging to the Association of Online Publishers (AOP). 

The likes of Telegraph Media, Auto Trader and Time Inc. also formed an “alliance”, putting their inventory up for programmatic sale via a premium marketplace.

The Rubicon Project is leading the Pangaea Alliance ahead of its second-stage trial next month.