Now is the time for more ad nets, not fewer
Ad networks have become a common target for agencies confused by the sheer number of choices (more than 300 at this point), and for publishers struggling with the amount of management time it takes to sort out which networks are performing better than others or who are unhappy with the results for the effort required.
Are there, in fact, just too many networks? Should we be a little comforted by the downturn, if it means we have
fewer ad networks promising delivery superior to the one that just left your office? Or are there some reasons to hope that their number and variety could grow even more?
The fact is, ad networks are a key engine of growth for this industry. Every network represents 1, 10 or 100 or more salespeople selling the benefits of online advertising to agencies and advertisers, educating the marketplace about optimization, reporting, and results. Based on the phenomenal growth of the online ad industry in the last five years, one has to believe that, along with the major brand advertisers and publishers, networks are helping expand the overall market. Ad networks simply bring more value to the online advertising ecosystem.
Granted, there's also a staggering number of types of ad networks, and most of them feature differing technologies. Despite the claims, no one ad network has aggregated all of the demand from network advertisers. The largest networks do a great job of getting campaigns in and filling impressions, but often we find that the most valuable impressions are filled by smaller, niche ad networks that just happen to fit precisely well with that user, that publisher, that content, or at that particular time.
That fact leads to the next question: Maybe it's not just which ad networks you work with that matters, but how many as well? We've heard from several publishers that they'd like to work with a lot of the high-value networks - behavioral, vertical, contextual and more - if only they could handle the load.
And that's the trick. Wouldn't a publisher work with, say, 100 ad networks if it meant its overall cpm went up, revenues went up, and even the networks were happier? Publishers do have to look at overall performance of all of their discretionary (a sum of all remnant, house, unsold and otherwise non-premium) inventory, but balance that with the cost of delivering that performance, in ad-ops staff and time.
Still, by filling every impression with the best campaign, publishers can see revenue improvement of anywhere from 30 percent to more than 300 percent. Finding the best campaign often means working with as many networks as possible, and getting the most out of those network relationships requires automated help.
The right automated solution should come from a partner that can process billions of publisher ad impressions and assign each to the network or ad exchange that fills it most profitably. From this perspective - and especially in a downturn - why not welcome in all the networks that offer potential value?