Guest Comment

Paul Sumners 15 Mar 2012

Guest comment: Digital industry embracing corporate trade in 2012

Online publishers are increasingly turning to corporate trade to maximise value from their unsold ad space. Paul Sumners, Director of Media Trading (UK) at Active International, examines the benefits of corporate trade to online media and what they should consider before employing the services of a corporate trade business.

Unfortunately, the outlook for the UK’s economy is increasingly fragile and uncertain. As a result, many clients’ marketing budgets - especially in non-traditional communications channels - are coming under intense scrutiny.

So, what’s the answer for those media owners, who want to maximise value from their advertising inventory and are keen to leverage all potential revenue streams available to them? A key option that has been growing in popularity in the digital industry, and beyond, is corporate trade.

Despite corporate trade already being a well established industry, it’s only over the last few years that it has become a more visible and attractive method for online media owners, media agencies and brands, to generate extra value from online marketing expenditure.

We currently work with a large range of media owners, across a wide variety of sectors including display and partnership activity directly with publishers, networks (including display, VOD, mobile and performance), as well as working on sponsorships and emerging platforms such as tablets.

To explain how the process works, corporate trade generates incremental revenue for digital media owners.

This can take several forms; brand new advertisers to digital, existing brands spending more year on year, or existing brands increasing the proportion of expenditure with those media owners conducting corporate trade.

We are able to do this by providing various goods and services to the digital suppliers, for example, marketing, corporate entertainment, funding cap-ex projects, conferences, flights or hotel rooms. In return for the above exchange, they pay us back with their advertising inventory which we then allow our range of clients to access for their digital marketing campaigns.

But what are the key factors to bear in mind when sourcing a corporate trade organisation?

Firstly, digital media owners should only deal with the largest and most established operators in the marketplace. It’s these that have the financial stability to ensure they will be around in the long term.

The corporate trade company should have a worldwide presence. Many online publishers will have a global reach and will want to implement cross-border campaigns. Mark Chippendale, the former commercial director of CBS Outdoor, has been appointed as the UK managing director of barter company Active International, as managing director Dean Wilson steps up to chief executive.

A corporate trade business with operations around the world can help generate extra value for media spend within the countries they operate in. It’s this reach that also provides added flexibility and value.

Ask which existing online publishers, media agencies and also brands the corporate trade business currently works with, this will give you an idea of how experienced and well regarded the company is.

It’s vital that publishers only sell space to advertisers they are happy appearing on their websites to avoid damaging their brand. To this end it’s the larger and more established corporate trade businesses that are more likely to have the contacts with these advertisers and networks.

In this day and age technology has progressed sufficiently for corporate trade organisations to offer 24/7 reporting on where the inventory, goods and services exchange stands so always ask what reporting procedures are in place before making an appointment.

Corporate trade is becoming increasingly popular and prevalent in the digital industry and beyond, and we expect it to be a discipline that’s set to grow even more strongly in 2012.

Given the turbulent economic background, digital media owners who don’t consider corporate trade could be missing a trick.

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