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RTL AdConnect provides one of the best examples anywhere of how a broadcast group can position itself to compete for multi-territory advertising deals, and how multiple broadcasters can work together to compete with Facebook and Google internationally. Though it presents itself as the global connection for advertisers into RTL Group, its reach is actually broader than that, thanks to some important partnerships, like with Medialaan in Belgium and ITV in the UK.

RTL AdConnect gives brands or their agencies the chance to reach European television viewers in 12 countries in total, through a single buy – eight via RTL Group properties and a further four through partnerships. It can also cover a decent chunk of their digital advertising needs, providing inventory on broadcaster VOD, YouTube influencer channels and in many of the 1,300 premium publishers that are connected into the RTL-owned SpotX and Smartclip marketplaces.

According to Stéphane Coruble, Managing Director of RTL AdConnect, the ambition is to provide the non-Google and non-Facebook digital requirements for an international advertiser alongside their multi-territory television (and radio) requirements. He cites some key differentiators for RTL AdConnect when pitching for international campaigns in competition (as everyone is) with Facebook or Google. These are: the ability to interweave television (including linear TV) and radio alongside digital; brand safety; a more localised execution of a global strategy.

Indeed, ‘glocal’ is a key weapon for RTL AdConnect, with Coruble claiming that, through its own sales houses across Europe, the company has a firm understanding of where to find audiences and how to deliver messages, including what creative will be effective for different nationalities (Spaniards may need a different creative approach to Germans, for example) and localised cultural conditions. There is ‘local’ execution against the global KPIs (key performance indicators) that are set by brands for their marketing.

Coruble cites a combined TV and digital campaign for as an example of where RTL AdConnect adds value. This campaign sums up what his company is about. Lastminute wanted a pan-European campaign and something uniquely creative that steered away from standard 30 second spots for the television side of the campaign. The result included product integrations and use of presenter talent.

This campaign symbolised, as a case study: a single buy for combined TV and digital advertising; a single buy for pan-European reach; bespoke creative solutions for TV, and the use of RTL Group broadcasters and non-RTL broadcast partners. RTL AdConnect can also point to a nine-country TV/digital campaign for Emirates that was managed from one place (London), making life easier for the client in terms of both planning and reporting.

“We are trying to simplify advertising for our clients, who have lots of fragmented opportunities in different markets,” explains Coruble. “We are a trusted partner in television and we are giving them the [digital] extension they are looking for in brand-safe environments, and 360-degree solutions. This is a one-stop shop.”

The heart of RTL AdConnect is its ‘Total Video Marketplace’, which used to be called ‘IP Network’ and was rebranded in time for Dmexco last year. This is made up of three products.

  • RTL AdPremium, which offers access to broadcaster VOD services from RTL Group companies and partners like ITV, RAI, Medialaan and Goldbach Media.
  • RTL AdEx, which provides the access needed to create a digital extension to a TV campaign. Advertisers can reach around 1,300 premium publishers via the SpotX and Smartclip programmatic marketplaces. You can buy adds on CNN online or even on Spotify here.
  • RTL AdAffinity, which covers inventory around MCN/MPN (Multi Channel Network/Multi Platform Network) and their talent, including some important influencers. This includes access to MPNs represented by RTL Group like StyleHaul and Broadband TV. “Advertisers can hand-pick premium YouTube channels with a high level of transparency,” RTL AdConnect says.

The additional value-add, beyond providing the easy access into (brand-safe) inventory, is the sales consultancy. RTL Group already deals with the major brands who are operating at both local and international market levels. Coruble says the company works with agencies to deliver on brand objectives and can sometimes work with a brand directly (though they are not looking to displace agencies).

His company can provide lots of local insights, including audience measurement, and services include media mix modelling and planning, with some unified reporting. “We can help them understand what worked last time and how to optimise campaigns,” he adds. Advertisers can buy direct via RTL AdConnect, and also programmatically in three-quarters of the territories covered.

When it comes to pan-European sales, combined audience reach and broadcaster cooperation, it was EBX (European Broadcaster Exchange) that made many of the headlines last year, as Mediaset (Italy and Spain), ProSiebenSat.1 Media (Germany), TF1 Group (France) and later Channel 4 (United Kingdom) created a shared single access point for advertisers. An important difference is that this initiative is confined to online inventory. Coruble emphasises that RTL AdConnect is not a single broadcast group initiative, and was already an ‘alliance’. He also points to a 12-country footprint compared to four.

The deal with ITV in the UK demonstrates the potential for cooperation. This is bilateral, so ITV can offer UK advertisers access to other European markets and the various RTL sales houses in mainland Europe can offer ITV inventory to their clients/agencies. It is a chance for domestic brands to seek out new markets, and for broadcasters to expand their potential client base.

This deal includes ITV Hub, ITV’s multiscreen streaming (linear and catch-up) service and Coruble is looking forward to offering European advertisers access to addressable advertising against ITV content on Smart TVs once the ITV/Sorenson initiative goes live.

The term ‘Total Video Marketplace’ points to the growing need to provide a complete solution – which means TV and digital but also ‘extending’ the audience discovery role to digital properties that are not owned-and-operated by a broadcaster – namely ‘audience extension’. RTL AdConnect has access to the No.1 or No.2 broadcaster in each of the 12 countries currently covered, Coruble points out. RTL AdConnect claims it is the No.1 ‘total video sales house’ in Europe.

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