Ad Council Sets Up Private Marketplace for Coronavirus PSAs

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The Ad Council has set up its first private marketplace, where publishers and ad-tech companies are donating inventory for coronavirus public service announcements.

The initiative will allow the Ad Council to send messages around at-risk populations, social distancing and personal hygiene, and other messaging from the Centers for Disease Control to targeted audiences. The nonprofit projects to deliver over 100 million impressions across donated media in display and video over the first two months.

“Through the PMP, we’ll have the opportunity to serve the right message to the right audience at the right time,” Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council, said in a statement. “During this ever-changing crisis, it will be invaluable to be able to optimize, evolve and adapt messaging and target audiences to ensure that our COVID-19 messages drive the greatest impact. We’re so grateful to our programmatic and media partners for coming forward and generously donating their platforms, services and inventory.”

The Ad Council has set up the PMP in partnership with The Trade Desk, which is providing free usage of its platform, and Cadreon, which is helping with outreach and campaign management.

Media partners that have donated inventory include Bustle, EMX, GroundTruth, InMobi, Kargo, The New York Post, Ogury, OpenX, TripleLift and Xandr.

“Setting up the PMP really gives exchanges and SSP, which have access to almost every single impression out there, an opportunity to get involved as well,” Liz DeAngelis, vp of growth and managed platforms for Ad Council, told Adweek.

Jason Wagenheim, president and CRO of Bustle Digital Group, said the company is prioritizing the Ad Council’s PMP over other nonpaid impressions it’s currently making available.

“This is a great way for us to support the Ad Council and systemize the way they’re able to access our audience through a PMP on an ongoing basis. We’re happy to keep it on long after coronavirus passes us,” said Wagenheim.

DeAngelis said there’s an opportunity for Ad Council to rotate in some of its other campaigns, to give publishers more opportunities to donate inventory, down the line.

Although it is for a good cause, the Ad Council is asking publishers to donate inventory in a time when they’re seeing coronavirus-related content go undermonetized. At the same time, ad-tech companies have been forced into taking cost-cutting measures as less ad spend flows through their platforms. At least two partners involved, Bustle Digital Group and TripleLift, have cut staff because of COVID-19.

“The free ads are about trying to curb coronavirus. So for them to be able to get back on top, we have to get this pandemic under control,” said DeAngelis.

Wagenheim said there’s a lot of inventory available across BDG, as programmatic has dropped by over 30% so far this quarter.

“It’s not like we don’t have the inventory. Traffic, on the other hand, is way up for us, and it’s mostly going to stuff that’s not related to coronavirus,” said Wagenheim.

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