Q&A: La Place Media MD Fabien Magalon

Last week we announced the news that French premium publisher collective La Place Media has attracted more than 12000 advertisers since it launched in September.

We caught up with La Place Managing Director Fabien Magalon to ask him how the alliance came about, how it protects its members’ direct sales and the product and services it plans to launch in future:


Can you explain the background to how the La Place co-operative came about?

Our founding partners (Amaury Medias, FigaroMedias, Lagardère Publicité and TF1 Publicité) all started investigating the automated trading space at an early stage. Three out of four were Rubicon Project customers already and were impressed with the revenues and new demand they were accessing.

They saw how fast RTB was projected to grow and that more demand was moving to automated channels, so asked themselves how best to address that change and optimise the great revenues they were already seeing.

That’s how the concept of La Place Media came about.

From top management to an operational level at the four founding publishers, there was strong belief that an alliance was the best option to address this new market efficiently. And that has been a key factor in La Place Media’s success.

Why does the French market not have the political hurdles that prevent other markets building their own country-wide publisher co-operatives?

Our founding members are competitors, so the hurdles are the same as they’d be in any other market.  The only difference is that among our founders there was a belief that premium publishers needed to address RTB together – to win together or lose out.

How do you control against cannibalisation of direct sales across such a wide variety of premium publisher sites?

From the start, we’ve operated on the basis that we anonymise all URLs and sites within the co-operative.

Buyers don’t like anonymised sites, so normally this would be a terrible idea. But we don’t fully anonymise, since our inventory is labelled laplacemedia.fr.

For this to work, we had to make sure the La Place brand (and the premium publisher brands it represents) were well known from the start – so the agencies were comfortable they were buying across the top brand safe environments in the market.

Anonymising URLs is probably the best way for us to protect our members against cannibalisation of direct sales. It also protects against data leakage, for that matter. We are of course also using standard setups like block lists, price floors etc to protect our members.

What kind of targeting do you offer buyers?

We started with an extremely blind product – but to provide granularity, we decided to breakdown URLs to seven targeting options. First we divided content into three types:

1. Editorial – content written by journalists

2. Service – pages hosted by the publisher, but not necessarily created by them, for example – a weather page or dating service

3. Social – content created by users – including forums, or blogs hosted by the publisher

We then added three classifications for ad positioning – above the fold, below the fold and also a middle fold position (because many of our sites have a 300×250 banner mid-page) – so in total, seven possible URLs (the below the fold positions are all bundled into one, not broken down into site type.)

We want to provide further transparency, but also to continue to protect ourselves – part of this process is going to be using deal ID to pass selected additional information to selected buyers at specific CPM floors. We plan to do this intensively through REVV Connect.

What are the kind of future products and services you see publishers building on top of La Place?

Another focus for La Place is actively supporting its publishers in building new products to diversify revenues – with the first – an audience extension product set to launch in the next few weeks.

What this means in practice is that our publishers will be able to sell their audience outside of their own sites but within La Place inventory – effectively a large scale publisher trading desk.

Taking a wider view, how do you see the European automated trading market developing in future?

All the signs are it will keep growing – the data we’ve seen in the last three months suggests exponential growth, with appetite from the demand side consistently growing. We believe this appetite for real time buying will reach mobile inventory next, and we plan to launch our mobile offering by September 2013.