Corus joins Rogers, Shaw, CBC in digital ad venture
Television and radio company Corus Entertainment Inc. has joined a digital advertising alliance formed by Rogers Communications Inc., Shaw Communications Inc. and the CBC.
The unusual partnership, established between the two media giants and the public broadcaster in April, lets advertisers pinpoint specific groups of Web users in real time for targeted campaigns across the hundreds of online sites owned by the three.
Toronto-based Corus will expand the partnership’s inventory by including sites for TV properties such as W Network, Cosmopolitan TV, the Oprah Winfrey Network and Nickelodeon Canada, among other “brands that deliver sought-after audiences” to advertisers, Corus said.
As agencies have pushed for more refined advertising channels online, such exchanges have risen fast in recent quarters enabled by technology as well as fierce competition for digital ad budgets.
Forrester Research, a U.S.-based consultant group, expects real-time bidding services to account for close to 20% of the online display market this year, up from 13% worldwide in 2011.
In Canada, Rogers, Shaw, the CBC and now Corus are looking for a bigger piece of the estimated $3.1-billion that will be spent on online advertising in 2012, a figure that includes digital ad sales among newspapers, according to TD Securities.
The alliance underscores how media and content distribution companies of all sorts are looking online for new revenue streams as older ones face pressure. Like all players in the fast-converging domestic telecom and media sectors, competition from myriad sources is denting growth prospects.
Rogers and Shaw have seen new television services introduced by phone rivals BCE Inc. and Telus Corp. eat into cable subscriber bases. The other two “pure play” media firms are battling for viewers and advertiser attention from online programming competition from the likes of Netflix Inc. and Web ad behemoths such as Google Inc.
The partnership among the four is a way for each to partly offset pressure elsewhere.
There are, however, mounting privacy concerns, as exchanges gather information about individual users’ activity in order to customize their ad experience and allow buyers to match them with campaigns or products.
Krux Digital Inc., a service for online site publishers to protect user data, issued a report last month estimating 40% of online data collection now stems from bidding exchanges similar to “CPAX,” or the Canadian Premium Audience Exchange, the name given the joint initiative.
CPAX isn’t as aggressive as others, executives said. It works by taking unsold display inventory from each company’s sites and pooling it together to be bid on. Ad buyers can buy across genres and categories, such as sports or business, which then places ads on related sites.
There’s no tracking of individual users, said Paul Burns, vice-president for online at Shaw.
“There are ways you can target various verticals we’ve built up, [but] we haven’t gotten overly granular from a targeting perspective,” he said.