Unfortunately, the outlook for the UK’s economy is currently increasing fragile and uncertain. As a result, many clients’ marketing budgets – especially in non-traditional communications channels – are coming under intense scrutiny.
When factored in with the increasing proliferation of online
publishers, we have a situation where digital advertising
inventory continues to grow but is potentially faced with
falling demand from advertisers. So a veritable perfect storm
for those responsible for delivering, possibly already
stringent, sales and revenue targets.
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, or corporate barter as it’s often
referred to, 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
In the case of the digital industry, we have recently seen
increasing number of media owners, ad networks and
exchanges seizing the opportunity to use corporate trade to
ensure maximum value is driven from their advertising
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. Let me explain how the corporate trade process
works; in summary, 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.
To demonstrate its value, Active International’s global
turnover for the last fiscal year was $869m. But what are the
key factors to bear in mind when sourcing a corporate trade
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. 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 business currently works with. If they don’t
work closely with the leading online brands and top media
agencies across the likes of Omnicom, Havas, WPP, for
example, they are probably not as well regarded or
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. Also, smaller ones are often going to lack the
Ensure the corporate trade business is open and
honest. To find this out meet up with them before making
an appointment to see what they can offer. They need to
be able to deliver a deal which benefits everyone
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 currently. For example, in reality a corporate trade
company will provide the goods and services either ahead
of, or after, placing any client’s advertising budgets.
Generally it’s the larger companies that have this
technology. Always ask what reporting procedures are in
place before making an appointment.
Best practice advice in this sector is always to aim to
identify and partner with the biggest and most
experienced provider in the marketplace – size,
volume and depth of relationships and the provision
of the latest reporting technology is key to delivering
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.