Marketing Report
[Interview] Stéphane Coruble, CEO, RTL AdAlliance news

[Interview] Stéphane Coruble, CEO, RTL AdAlliance

Stéphane Coruble is CEO of RTL AdAlliance. RTL AdAlliance is the international sales organisation of RTL Group. We speak to him regarding the upcoming event Future of TV Advertising Global 2023.

A lot of people in the industry know AdAlliance, but don’t know RTL AdAlliance. Can you explain what RTL AdAlliance is and why it is also relevant in the Netherlands?

We are the international Total Video sales house for European broadcasters and media owners, not only just within the RTL Group but also for a vast portfolio of third-party partners. We are setting out to create a gateway to effective and brand-safe broadcast, print, and digital premium environments for international advertisers trying to reach European audiences effectively. With a strong portfolio of RTL owned media including RTL Nederland but also recognised third-party brands including, Telegraph, The Guardian, prisma Media, Le Figaro and Neue Zürcher Zeitung, broadcasters like ITV in the UK or RAI in Italy, and influential CTV players such as Samsung, LG, and Pluto TV.

RTL AdAlliance might be best understood as a compliment to local sales houses like the Ad Alliance in the Dutch market. We are the international sales arm, completing RTL’s local consolidation efforts to simplify ad sales for advertisers and media owners on all levels. Ad Alliance is the national sales champion in the Dutch market.

As the European media sales house for advertisers globally, we are acting as the first point of contact for brands who want to reach multiple markets or enter new markets. For example, if a Dutch company wants to venture into the ad markets in France and Spain, we are their point of contact in the Netherlands. If a US-based brand plans to advertise in multiple European markets, we are the ones enabling them to access inventory in for example the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Belgium.

RTL AdConnect, G+J i|MS and smartclip media merged in February 2022. Beginning 2023 the name RTL AdAlliance was announced for the combined company. Can you tell how the merger has been implemented and what it means for customers?

Just recently we have been able to conclude our merger-process by establishing united legal entities in all markets. That gives us even more capacities to build a simple and easy to use infrastructure for European media buying. We are following four principles: Unification, Simplification, Innovation, and Intelligence.

We believe in a consumer centric advertising model. Putting the consumer first and making the ad buying experience as efficient as possible to create the best impact for the advertiser. Therefore, we are unifying local European media champions into one global portfolio. Advertiser can gain simple access to this vast portfolio through a single point of contact and a unified buying platform.

In addition, we are transitioning classical media, such as linear television, into the digital and Addressable TV space by leveraging the technological expertise within RTL Group. By investing in insight and expertise, we are empowering our clients with data-driven guidance that aligns with the evolving market dynamics, enabling them to make informed investment decisions.

In the Netherlands we see a decline of tv-screen use (with a relatively big stake in other use [which is streaming services] and a diversification of use of media. How does it affect your business and how do you deal with this?

Video viewing is changing structurally and permanently. In July 2023, linear TV viewing dropped below 50 procent of video usage in the United States for the first time. In Europe, linear TV viewing is still significantly higher than in the United States. But the trends are similar: decreasing reach for linear TV channels, while streaming usage continues to grow substantially.

Changing screen habits: Evolution of the European average daily TV viewing time; total individuals 2000-2022, in minutes.

The explosion of content platforms, from traditional Broadcaster Video on Demand (BVOD) to Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD), Advertising Video on Demand (AVOD), Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV (FAST), and the surge in user-generated content, further fragmented the viewing landscape. This fragmentation challenged advertisers to rethink their strategies and find innovative ways to engage with audiences in a crowded digital environment.

It also challenges European media brands to scale their digital footprint. The quality of our premium European media brands offer for advertisers is unmatched. The challenge is to make these environments easily accessible, simple to buy.

How do you see the development of advertising on the video level of Meta (Facebook/Instagram), Alphabet (Google), Amazon and Netflix for your company?

Europe, as a fragmented market, can be difficult to enter and it is tempting to go to the online giants to build global campaigns. We leverage our position as RTL Group’s total video sales house. Meaning, we are aware that global giants are raking in advertising money, through increased interest in their AI-driven advertising offerings. European media brands are well recognised and trusted. They provide an advertising environment guaranteeing brand suitability much more dependently than online platforms driven by user-generated content ever can. Our task is to make media buying and reporting for European media as simple as booking a Facebook campaign.

What chances do you see for addressable advertising and how do you see it deployed?

The digitalisation of TV advertising and the unification of media buying will continue to be major points of emphasis for us going forward. To future-proof the European media business, its paramount to integrate non-digital media into digital buying patterns while European media houses stay in control of their own data.

Addressable TV has played a major role in laying the groundwork for this. Enabling programmatic buying for linear TV is another big step in this direction. That is what we did by connecting our portfolio and the RTL owned SSP and ad server of smartclip Tech, RTL Group’s adtech unit, to the established DSP and buying infrastructure of The Trade Desk. 2024 will be a year to further drive digitalisation of linear TV advertising and refining cross-platform attribution and measurement with the smart TV at the centre of attention.

Combining the strengths of high reach, brand safety and emotional storytelling with data and targeting offers great potential for advertising. Addressable TV will leverage the available inventory, attract new advertisers, and offer distinguished targeting. Our parent company already made significant progress in building an open European ad-tech platform and tapping into the high-growth market of addressable TV advertising.

In the Netherlands in politics there are two discussions going on: banning commercials regarding certain topics (gambling, fast food, products based on fossil fuel) on one side and other side banning commercials in a public broadcasting environment. What is your position and idea about both?

The impact of prohibiting the advertising of foods like confectionery and fast food especially to children has been explored through studies conducted by various government organisations in Europe and these studies suggest that advertising bans may play a role in reducing the incidence of obesity among children and adolescents. Advertising bans are tempting but very difficult to formulate and where to draw the line, particularly considering that some products could contribute of a healthy and balanced diet.

Regarding gambling, we are already adhering strictly to government regulations, where applicable. This includes the Netherlands, where gambling advertising is limited online and on tv. It is the same in several European markets, operators need a granted permission by federal governments to be able to advertise. Extending that, we are closely working with our publishers to determine, if they permit gambling advertising within their content within the legal limits or not.

One advantage as a European sales house is to have a global perspective on local ad markets and their regulations.

What do you expect of the Future of TV Advertising Global 2023?

At this event we need to exchange about the following key factors for the future: Investing in qualitative content both at a local and global level to recruit viewers; retaining audiences by improving content discoverability and by making that content shareable, including personalised suggestions for what to watch next; and finally, optimising the user experience by providing content seamlessly across platforms and devices.

Instead of opting for bans, our emphasis lies in fostering collaborative efforts among the media industry, government organisations and media owners. What is even more important is to have a fair competition between media types which is still, unfortunately, not the case. Today, traditional media such as tv, print or radio are subject to stringent legal regulations. We contend that these regulations should extend to global media giants as well, ensuring a level playing field for all participants in the media landscape.