ESI Media has joined The Ozone Project, the joint digital display ad sales operation launched in 2018 by four of the UK’s largest news media companies.
The publisher’s two flagship titles, the Evening Standard and The Independent, are the first new national news brands to join since Ozone was started by The Guardian, The Telegraph, News UK (which owns The Sun and The Times) and Reach (which owns the Mirror, Express and Daily Star, as well as local titles including the Manchester Evening News).
The four initial partners were joined in September 2019 by The Stylist Group, covering both its eponymous women’s lifestyle magazine and 16 titles from parent company DC Thompson, including Scottish regional news brands the Evening Telegraph and Evening Express.
Last month, Time Out Media became the second magazine publisher to join.
ESI’s move leaves the Daily Mail and General Trust, owner of the Daily Mail, Metro and i, as the only mainstream national news brand publisher that has not signed up to Ozone.
Ozone said its existing titles already reached 99% of UK adults or 45.1 million people – the same number reached by Google and ahead of Facebook (44 million) and Amazon (43.1 million).
Introducing the Evening Standard and The Independent to the platform meant that 83% of that audience would now visit Ozone sites each week – that’s 37.4 million, up from 35.5 million.
"ESI Media embodies the type of publishing partner that makes Ozone a truly compelling advertiser proposition – quality editorial that truly engages their readers – and adds to the depth of audience understanding and access offered today by Ozone’s publishers," Damon Reeve, chief executive of Ozone, said.
He argued that both the impact on media consumption prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and the results of a recent study into the programmatic supply chain by ISBA made Ozone a more compelling offer to advertisers.
"The Ozone Project is a safe haven for brands as we provide marketers with the knowledge that their advertising messages are going to sit within editorially controlled, regulated environments," Reeve said.
"This is in stark contrast to the challenges that lie within open market programmatic, where advertisers have little control or knowledge of where their ads run. The recent ISBA/PwC/AOP transparency study showing that the average campaign ran on over 40,000 websites is testament to that.
"The pandemic has emphasised the benefits of Ozone’s advertiser-led approach. We’re able to offer brands a single point of access to the UK’s biggest pool of premium content. We offer this exposure in environments that are highly trusted by their readers and where those readers are highly attentive. We are brand-safe and fully privacy compliant. All important pre the pandemic; doubly important now.
"Scale (as mentioned) is also critical, and working with Ozone has allowed advertisers to take advantage of the huge upswings in online readership that has been experienced by most publishers during the period of lockdown. Given our near universal reach of online adults, brands are now viewing Ozone in line with other broadcast channels such as linear TV and OOH – and we’ve started to see spend shift accordingly."
Reeve added that Ozone had increased its headcount by 25%, or nine new people, since the start of lockdown.