Partnerships are the key in creating sustainable business. Yet creating mutually beneficial partnerships in a digital landscape takes more transparency and honesty than most. Here, Rhys Heron, managing director of Mi9 NZ, tells us how they rely on honesty and integrity to nurture their wide network of international partnerships.
Partnering with publishers to sell digital advertising means Mi9 relies heavily on the success of these partnerships to widen its network and provide more opportunities to those in its network. Heron says representing the advertising opportunities for publishers can only be successful with truth from both sides.
“We ensure that we're always being very direct and honest with our potential partners and current partners. And we steer away from offering anything that we're not prepared to stand behind. So I'm very careful to ensure that at all points in the conversation, that we're only offering what we reasonably believe we can deliver for our clients and their business. That transparency and honesty generally creates a good relationship that’s then reciprocated.”
Programmatic marketing specialists Mi9 believe in providing wide audience reach and one of the key ways it does this is through the partnerships it forms.
“Mi9 is very much a partnership business, one of the keys to the business is the partnership with Microsoft,” says Heron. “Through Microsoft we’re able to offer MSN NZ and Outlook.com, both of which are large properties in the New Zealand market and ultimately very blue chip in terms of viewability and performance. So for us, that partnership with Microsoft is central to our business and what we can offer our clients.”
Mi9’s partnership with Microsoft provides clients with access to its global network. Heron says these partnerships have allowed them to develop new products by combining services.
“For example, by working with Microsoft first party data, Experian socio-economic data, and Grapeshot contextual targeting, all of which are products in our portfolio, we've been able to combine these and create 18 custom macro segment data products that have been received really well by the market.”
So by listening to the needs of the market for data, they meet the requirements for specific targeting at scale which led to creating macro segment data groupings which Heron says is an example of their success and innovation.
“We continue to innovate as much as possible with those products and deliver increasing value into the market, so central to our business are the strategic partnerships we create. But then we also have two other really important partnerships, one of which is with ViacomCBS, and they offer MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, all of which are popular with the youth audience and give us a point of differentiation.”
Heron also highlights the success of Microsoft’s recent header-bidding strategy that has allowed Mi9 to lead a global implementation on a larger scale.
“This support from Microsoft and our ability to integrate into that global program really delivered a win-win outcome for both businesses. It goes back to the central idea of partnership with both parties having skin in the game and contributing to local success.”
Heron says the usual commercial, technical and legal conversations will always be a part of partnerships. But underlying any good partnership is honesty and transparency from both parties.
“Programmatic marketing is an inherently transparent part of the digital ecosystem, in terms of the data that's available and the accessibility of the performance of campaigns, and the provision of real time information; The performance is obvious, or should be, to all parties.”
“It comes back to that honesty and transparency in communication. So if there wasn’t that, then it would be hard to deliver business performance that would work for both parties.”
“We’ve been able to grow the majority of our partnerships by focusing the business on programmatic, and the shift that we're seeing in the overall market towards programmatic buying. By anticipating that trend and effectively focussing energy and resources on it, we've been able to meet the demands in the market for specific audiences at scale.”
Yet transparency is just one aspect. Heron says creating a partnership is done by publishers who make those partnerships sustainable by virtue of the investment they make in the market and the audience they have.
“Part of our mission and vision of the business is to work cooperatively with our partners to create a path for them to invest more in custom New Zealand content. Our representation of their brands within the New Zealand market leads to more profitability for our partners. Then they're able to reinvest some of that profitability in more localized content for the New Zealand audience, which they wouldn't otherwise have done if Mi9 wasn't involved.”
Honesty is such a core value of Mi9, which is why Heron says the company places such a lot of emphasis on this in its dealings with clients and in growing partnerships
For Mi9, 2020 holds further plans for an increase in transparency of their offerings, including continuing to use their partnerships to develop and innovate new services says Heron.
“We will stay focused on creating sustainable partnerships and driving value through innovation with partners and our own incremental product innovation. So we've found that that's been a clear and successful part of our strategy.”