Bruno Bianchini, Head of Global Partnerships MENA at Google, explains how the relationship between the digital behemoth and publishers in the region has been evolving.
You’re responsible for Google’s relationship with publishers in the region. How would you explain your job?
First of all, when we say publishers, we don’t necessarily mean news publishers only, but also broadcasters, e-commerce platforms, classified – anybody that has an online presence.
One aspect of my job is making sure that the inventory of publishers is monetized as much as possible. As easy as it sounds, we want publishers to make money, so we help them price their inventory in the auction to maximize their revenue.
The other aspect, and I’ve been focusing a lot of my time and attention on that in the last couple of years, is to provide the One Google approach. Google has many different services, from content creation to distribution and monetization; so, we really can help publishers across the entire value chain. But this also means that there are a lot of stakeholders that these publishers need to speak to. We sit down with them, identify their most pressing business issue, and see how to solve it together using Google technologies. For example, we help publishers have conversations around the cloud; or understanding why YouTube is a good platform for distributing video content; or considering Google Analytics to better understand users. We have a very consultative approach where they tell us what problems they have and we truly and humbly try to provide the best that we can to support them in their success.
Publishers sometimes feel threatened by digital giants like Google. How do you support them?
We support publishers in multiple ways. We provide millions of them globally – from Disney in the US to the smallest blogger in Cairo, just to give you the scale – with one of the most advanced ad-serving technologies in the world. And we help connect these publishers to thousands and thousands of advertisers, from the biggest to the smallest, locally and internationally.
In this new ecosystem, what is the role of media reps?
I’m a very big fan of media reps because they help publishers in the innovation process. First of all, you can have 60 publishers or you can have one media rep that organizes 60 publishers. It’s easier for us to speak with one media rep than to speak with 60 different publishers. Secondly, and especially in this region where the publishing industry is very fragmented, media reps act as a growth engine, because they provide publishers with the technical support that they need. Sometimes, publishers are very good with content creation but don’t have the internal resources to optimize, whereas media reps are extremely specialized in content monetization. They bring innovation at scale to all of these partnerships.
How do you see publishers evolving in the region in terms of programmatic adoption?
I’m really proud of publishers in this region. They are very knowledgeable in general and they really stepped up to the programmatic conversation – even compared to other mature markets. Now, we are moving towards a fully programmatic market anyways, so we should not have conversations about whether we should adopt programmatic or not anymore, but rather around how we can extend the benefits of programmatic to other mediums. How about audio or TV? Music streaming services like Spotify, for example, embraced programmatic at a very early stage. They have beautiful case studies where they show how audio included in a programmatic package can bring many benefits to advertisers. Or we see how about 40% of what we call advanced TV requests on the Google Ad Manager globally comes from audiences watching TV programming on mobile devices. 20% is already on connected TV. Or out-of-home; digital panels could become programmatic.
The way we’re engaging with this content is changing. So, the evolution is more towards bringing the benefits of programmatic outside of the space in which programmatic was born. In the future, I anticipate some measurable growth in connected TV and audio impressions globally and in the MENA region. Digital out of home is a little bit more challenging, but it will probably follow.