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Sept. 26, 2016, 11:54 a.m.
Business Models

Twenty seven digital publishers — including Condé Nast, ESPN, NBCUniversal, The Washington Post, and more — on Monday said they’ve come together to join an automated online ad marketplace launched by the trade association Digital Content Next.

The marketplace is called TrustX, and DCN is launching it as a nonprofit public benefit corporation with the goal of providing more transparency in digital advertising. “It was clear that to move the needle on trust in the market, we needed to get in the game in a more direct way,” DCN CEO Jason Kint said in a statement.

In that release, DCN outlined the principles behind the marketplace:

• A guarantee to deliver only human and viewable advertising transactions;

• Total transparency about the cost of campaign delivery, thus dramatically reducing the mystery of lost media value so common in the complex digital supply chain;

• Cooperative development, testing and measurement of innovative ad monetization models and desktop and mobile ad units; and

• Advertising that improves the consumer experience and reduces the motivation to block ads.

In short, the advertising traded through the TrustX marketplace will be certified to meet the highest standards for performance, quality, security and privacy.

DCN said the marketplace is slated to launch in early 2017.

Even though all these outlets will be participating in TrustX, it remains to be seen how much ad inventory will actually pass through the marketplace. It’s also unclear how much of an impact the marketplace will have when most online ad dollars are spent on platforms like Facebook and Google and adblockers are becoming more commonplace.

Still, publishers and individuals who follow the ongoing issues surrounding online advertising expressed optimism about the system’s potential.

“A smart exchange can lead to better performance, especially when combined with engagement and quality environment,” ESPN executive vice president of global multimedia sales Eric Johnson said in a statement. “But trust and transparency issues, as well as viewability and invalid traffic, have hampered our enthusiasm to activate a fully transactional marketplace for display. We want to change the conversation and feel that this DCN-led, solutions-based effort will align premium publishers and allow us to confidently participate in a better automated marketplace moving forward.”

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