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Joint advertising platform becomes 'truly cross-industry initiative' as Reach unites with News UK, Guardian and Telegraph

Reach has joined three other national news publishers as a founding partner in a jointly-owned advertising platform being developed in response to “industry-wide concerns across the digital advertising ecosystem”.

The Telegraph, Guardian News and Media and News UK, which publishes the Sun and the Times, announced in June that they were joining together to create The Ozone Project.

They said it was being developed as an answer to concerns including brand safety, data governance, a lack of transparency in the supply chain, ad fraud, and calls from advertisers for a single point of access to publishers.

Reach, which owns the Mirror and acquired the Express and Star titles earlier this year in its buyout of Express Newspapers, has now joined the project as a founding partner to bring “even greater scale” and enable the publishers to “collaborate meaningfully”.

The addition of Reach means the project, which is currently being tested and is due to launch this autumn, will offer advertisers access to an audience of more than 42.5m British consumers, according to Comscore figures from July.

This would put The Ozone Project’s UK reach on a par with Facebook, which has not released a figure for its number of UK users but in May last year said it had 30m daily users on mobile.

Reach chief revenue officer Andy Atkinson said: “We passionately believe in the importance of news brands and their value to consumers but also to advertisers and are excited about working with the team and the other newsbrands to expand on that vision.

“We have long believed and championed the need for publishers to collaborate meaningfully in order to provide brands the ability to reach consumers at scale and effectively and The Ozone Project is a significant, and natural, next step on that journey.”

The platform will give advertisers access to participating publishers through one specialised sales team who can use “sophisticated targeting” methods across the different websites involved.

The ambition is to open it up to other “quality” publishers and partners after launch.

Each publisher will continue to sell their own inventory separately.

Damon Reeve (pictured), chief executive of the Ozone Project, said: “The ambition for The Ozone Project was always for it to be a truly cross-industry initiative and Reach’s involvement underlines this vision.

“With four of the largest newspaper publishers in the UK now on board we can offer advertisers and agencies a unique combination of technology and targeting alongside direct and transparent access to quality audiences at real scale.”

The UK advertising market is dominated by web giants Google and Facebook, known collectively as the Duopoly, who take the lion’s share of revenue and new digital ad growth.

Total advertising spend in the UK grew by 4.6 per cent to a record £22.2bn last year, but the journalism industry is getting a diminishing slice of the pie.

Facebook and Google took 135 per cent of the growth in digital advertising investment in 2017, according to research released in June by advertising media company Group M.

Press Gazette launched its Duopoly campaign last year to warn that the dominance of Google and Facebook in the advertising market was pushing news publishers out of business and calling on them to pay more back to news publishers on whose content they rely.

Hamish Nicklin, chief revenue officer at Guardian News and Media, said the aim of The Ozone Project was to “facilitate the highest standard of digital advertising and ensure quality journalism and content continues to be funded”.

Dora Michail, the Telegraph’s managing director of digital, said the infrastructure would create a “better marketplace for advertisers, consumers and publishers alike” while News UK group chief commercial officer Dominic Carter said it was “driven by a shared ethos” for a “transparent and effective” platform.

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