Teaming up with a competitor: The d-force flagship project.

Interview with Jens Mittnacht, Managing Director, SevenOne Media.

How can reach be further monetized? Dr. Jens Mittnacht, Managing Director of SevenOne Media, dedicates himself to answering this question every day. Thanks to the d-force flagship project — a ProSiebenSat.1 and Mediengruppe RTL joint venture — his team made significant strides in 2019. In this interview, Jens explains how they came to team up with a direct competitor.
What exactly is the story behind d-force?

d-force is an ad-tech joint venture between ProSiebenSat.1 and Mediengruppe RTL. The centerpiece is the Active Agent technology — a fully automated platform that, for the first time, allows companies to book Addressable TV and online video advertising via a single interface serving both media houses. In short: We are making our customers’ lives easier! No advertising cooperation this comprehensive has ever been seen on the German — or for that matter the European — market. It is truly unique.

Such comprehensive cooperation as d-force has never been seen before in the German advertising market, and is even unique in Europe. Since January 1, 2020, Ralf Hammerath, Alen Nazarian and Jens Pöppelmann (from left to right) on the management board have been driving the lighthouse project forward.
We are making our customers’ lives easier! No advertising cooperation this comprehensive has ever been seen on the German — or for that matter the European — market. It is truly unique.
How did the partnership between Germany’s two leading TV networks come about?

The real driving force was, in fact, the market. More and more advertisers were asking us for a shared booking platform. Since RTL has been as active as we have in advancing advertising technologies, and we had invested in complementary companies, the synergies were obvious. So we entered into discussions. Both sides agreed that although we are competitors in terms of content, ratings, advertising inventory and its marketing, that doesn’t extend to technology. The big moment arrived in June 2019, when we set up d-force. In August, we got the go-ahead from the cartel office, and in September, we launched our first campaigns. It was a very special moment!

How has the advertising market reacted to your offering?

Right from the start, we got a lot of positive feedback from customers, especially with regards to the comprehensive service and ease of booking — all it takes is a few clicks to order tailor-made advertising. But that’s only the beginning: In 2020, we’re launching programmatic configuration of Addressable TV commercials and integration of the cross-device bridge. This means that by linking different devices in the household — such as TV, smartphone and tablet — we can run a campaign across all of them using a target group-specific approach. All in all, we have received a tremendous response not only from clients — international broadcasters and marketers are also very interested.

All in all, we have received a tremendous response not only from clients — international broadcasters and marketers are also very interested.
In what way? Are you planning on integrating international partners into the booking platform, too?

In February 2020, we already brought our booking platform to Austria and integrated the advertising inventories of our subsidiary ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 and the Austrian marketer of RTL. And we are also in contact with media companies from Switzerland. Our goal is to offer the largest possible advertising portfolio on the platform. Looking beyond the German-speaking countries, we are rather aiming to establish our offering as an independent tech solution in each country’s official language. This task is now being driven by the new d-force management team, which took office on January 1.

What does ProSiebenSat.1 expect to get out of d-force in the long term?

On the one hand, d-force is testimony to our innovation leadership in the field of advertising technology. After all, the core technology, Active Agent, is part of our ad tech subsidiary Virtual Minds. On the other hand, we also want to accelerate growth in our Addressable TV business, as this very area not only offers huge potential for monetizing our reach, but is also our absolute core competency.