Ad Networks – a hypothetical for AU

I’ve been wondering about something lately.

What would happen if the leading 10-15 publishers in Australia stopped using Ad Networks.

ie – the only way to appear as an advertiser on their site was through them directly.

So, let’s say Fairfax, News, Yahoo!, ninemsn, Bigpond and the larger mid tail players basically stopped accepting networks.

What would be the consequences?

I’d imagine if all they did was stop accepting remnant/third party networks the outcome would be pretty similar to right now. No change.

However, what if they promoted to trade reasonably heavily that they were exclusively available through their own sales team?

And they explained what this meant in an advertiser quality perspective – ie in terms of other advertisers and advertiser volume.

Some Ad Networks recently are selling on ‘the quality of their network’ which always confuses me. How can you sell on a quality foundation when you can never be fully transparent about the sites your ads are appearing on, nor do you own any of the content or pay for its creation directly?

I’m not saying networks don’t play a role – I’m sure they do …  it’s just difficult sometimes to work out what their point of difference is besides price. Especially when they also want to play in the wonderfully subjective world of ‘premium’ content.

Anyway – with ad networks I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I am the one who doens’t get it. The problem starts and stops with me. As much as I ask questions and get answers I can never work out why they’re used.

For those who use ad networks a few questions

– why do you use them?
– what do you feel they deliver in a unique sense?
– how do you gauge success and quality?


7 responses to “Ad Networks – a hypothetical for AU

  1. Not sure if this is what prompted the post or not Shepherd, but CBS are doing just this – no longer dealing with any networks with the exception of mobile and (some) ad exchanges –

  2. Well Ben I guess it depends on what you are buying.

    If you take the view media is exclusively profiling composition of a readership then it is just price. Just price.

    If it is audience and data you are buying then a network offers more than just price.

    I am slightly confused why a buyer places “just” in front of price.

  3. We use Adconian who so far serve quality ads only but purely as a space filler on occasional unsold inventory.

    We switched from others to Adconian as we didn’t want any low-grade ads appearing and we would not hesitate to switch them off and revert to house campaigns if they served any rubbish .

    For us, the only way to sell our site properly is through our own well trained and motivated sales team.

  4. Good points Ben, and thanks for raising it.
    You’ve probably already read most of the US press around the CBSi withdrawal from AdNetworks as Andrew references above. Read more detail in this interview with our CEO, Neil Ashe –

  5. I’m on the fence here from a ‘what I think is a smart approach’; but going to go with the eventual evolution where (a version of )networks prevail based on (Liam’s point exactly) the ‘audience and data’ part.

    I love the sentiment behind removing networks and re-targeting. IE – “you cannot find this person with an affiliation to ” X” anywhere else but with us”; but the horse has bolted on that and there are too many tools that tell people otherwise now including your own spreadsheets and historical data.

    Yes, if you are the only site that owns ‘Camera Reviews’ – Nikon still needs you; similar to why Nikon buy adverts in specialist magazines mainly; but for others – there is a problem.

    If you unplug the networks that are/will be plugged into the exchanges that are/will be plugged into the new buying/bidding platforms that the larger groups are buying into in US/Europe etc – you would miss out on getting ‘true’ value for your users (publisher) or paying the true amount (client) down the line as everyone else moves on.
    The tools I’m seeing over here now have me lost, and I’m ‘in’ that space currently meeting the people who build them. IE: DataXu, analyzes the ad slots available to a buyer across the exchanges at any given moment and predicts which are most likely to induce clicks or conversions, based on dozens of parameters such as the location of the viewer, the day of the week, were they seen before, what did they buy, the time of day, and the content of the ad itself. It does this 100,000 times per second or more, learning as it goes by measuring actual click-through rates for ads the engine has placed. Mediamath, InviteMedia all similar stuff.

    I just cant see an account service team for a publisher putting out a proposal and or report/results better than that nor an agency building a plan and report that does the same either; at the same speed.

    That’s not to say that publishers couldn’t just plug into the exchanges or agency tools themselves and bypass the networks. EG : Leave some parts as ‘don’t touch, these are my ‘brand’ areas and the rest – goes to the audience bucket.
    I guess your next post could be an article to ask how many of the publishers truly know which are the most valuable impressions for them right now and if they know that, why they keep the other pages?

    For those interested; has become the industry ‘site of choice’ for the ‘data-driven’ industry over here for now and worth staying on top of as a primer/rolodex. Happy to intro if I’ve met some of them.

  6. Chris that was a great comment.

    Just back from the US and I agree it is just amazing at how many options there are with exchanges, data sellers like Blue Kai, Real Time Bidding, Network Optimisers etc.

    There are loads of options and ways to engage with prospects. The idea that the future is the model of publishers owning an audience and selling based on tailored solutions etc is very optimisitic given technology has opened up so many valuable alternatives.

  7. Fairfax have partnered with Addify to create their own ad network of sorts.. thought this might be relevant:

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