Press Coverage

Is the digital industry ready for corporate trade?

Paul Sumners 05 May 2012

There’s still great turbulence in the UK and indeed, world economy. As a result, many businesses’ marketing budgets – particularly in the digital sector - are coming under intense scrutiny.

The issue is possibly most acute for online publishers. As they proliferate, and therefore so does inventory, they are facing a veritable perfect storm with demand falling from advertisers. This makes it very hard for those responsible at publishers for delivering, possibly already stringent, sales and revenue targets.

However, what is 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, being well established, it’s only recently that its visibility has increased and it has become an attractive method for online media owners, media agencies and brands, to generate extra value from online marketing expenditure.

In the digital industry we have recently seen an increasing number of media owners, ad networks and exchanges seizing the opportunity to use corporate trade to ensure value is maximised from their advertising inventory.

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.

But how does corporate trade work? It 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 utilising corporate trade.

A corporate trade organisation is 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 the corporate trade business with their advertising inventory which that organisation’s range of clients can access for their digital marketing campaigns.

For those in doubt of the value of the industry, Active International’s global turnover for the last fiscal year was $869 million. But what are the key factors to bear in mind when sourcing a corporate trade organisation?

It’s preferable that the corporate trade company has a worldwide presence. By nature many online publishers will have a global reach and will therefore want to implement international campaigns.

It’s those corporate trade businesses with operations around the world which can generate extra value for media spend within the countries they operate in, providing added flexibility and value.

Only work with those businesses who have relationships with leading, recognised online brands and top media agencies across the likes of Omnicom, Havas, WPP, for example. It’s only these who are well regarded or experienced enough.

It goes without saying that publishers only sell space to advertisers that they are happy to have appearing on their websites to avoid damaging their brand. The larger and long established corporate trade companies are more likely to have contacts with a wide range of relevant advertisers and networks.

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 involved.

The corporate trade business must be able to offer 24/7 reporting on where the inventory/goods and services exchange stands. In this day and age technology has progressed sufficiently for any good organisation to offer this measurement. So 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 value.

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 throughout the remainder of 2012.

In the current difficult economic environment those digital media owners who don’t consider corporate trade could be missing a trick.

About the Author

Paul joined Active International in 2003 and became Director of Media Trading for UK operations in 2009. Paul has worked in the media industry since graduating from Leicester University in 1987. Prior to joining Active International, he held senior Broadcast and Digital roles at various media agencies and as a media owner at Open TV.

About Active International

Active International is a global leader in Corporate Trade, with over 26 year’s global experience. As a Corporate Trade company Active International allows its clients to generate Extra Value from their underperforming stock. Active International buys these assets using Trade Credits for a greater value than their clients would receive for cash on the open market. These Trade Credits can be spent through Active International as part payment for a range of services, from media campaigns and printing to conference facilities and corporate hospitality. Active International works closely with blue-chip brands which include John Mills Ltd, Specsavers and Young’s Seafood, and many of the world’s top 25 media agencies.


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