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Concert turns five

AJ Frucci, Head of Concert reflects five years after Concert’s launch on why he remains optimistic about building a healthier digital ecosystem for brands, publishers and users

Five years ago, we founded Concert, an ad marketplace made up of the world’s most premium publishers, looking to create a better and safer open web — one that puts users, advertisers and publishers on the same plane.

By many degrees, we’ve been successful. Hundreds of the world’s biggest brands have found Concert to be an effective solution to advertise at scale in brand safe environments, generating millions of dollars in revenue to newsrooms across the country. We’ve innovated and launched extensions of Concert with Concert Local, bringing on dozens of local publishers; and Concert Ad Manager, broadening the pool of marketers who can advertise across high value publisher inventory. I feel confident we’ve played an important role in building a safer and ultimately better digital community at large.

But while we’ve seen success scaling Concert, we’ve also seen the industry problems we originally set out to solve further exacerbated. Social platforms have become a breeding ground for misinformation, causing headaches for every marketer. Quality content from publishers consistently shows up on ad tech providers’ keyword block lists. The death of the third party cookie has put a finer point on the importance of privacy and data responsibility. Independent local journalism remains in a state of crisis. And creativity is still boiled down to a lowest common denominator, causing fed up users to increasingly tune out or block annoying ads.

These growing trends will keep any marketer or publisher up at night. But they leave us feeling confident that the values we set for Concert five years ago are more relevant than ever. Marketers of all sizes have an opportunity right now to reach engaged audiences with beautiful ads across high quality content, helping to fund trusted journalism across the web while driving performance for their brands — and aligning their marketing mix with their corporate values along the way.

As we look back on five years, I’m reminded of Concert’s mission, which hasn’t changed, but rather has become more relevant than ever: to build a better digital ecosystem that is easy for brands to invest in.

Concert is and always will be guided by the following principles:

  • Quality content only: By creating a model that incentivizes many of the best media companies in the world to band together, Concert is able to reach an enormous audience without relying on low quality properties to find scaled supply
  • Creative excellence: A brand’s message is only as powerful as the creative canvas it’s delivered on. Concert is powered exclusively by user-forward, immersive creative formats that drive real outcomes
  • Publisher-led: Concert is by publishers, for publishers. Being owned and operated by a publisher aligns our incentives with our audiences and those of our publisher and advertiser partners
  • Responsible data: We will never sell our audiences’ data or abuse their trust and right to privacy. Concert utilizes sustainable, responsible, and effective data practices powered by first-party insights and contextual relevance

As we look ahead to the next five years, the opportunity to continue pursuing a healthier digital ecosystem is more exciting than ever. After a year of unprecedented upheaval across the world, Concert’s principles have become increasingly timely and meaningful as brands demand more flexibility and thoughtfulness in their marketing efforts, and as the sustainment of trusted content remains critical.

Our team has spent the last 12 months heads down building new products, cutting edge infrastructure, responsible data solutions, and more scale than ever before. We can’t wait to show you what’s next.