Are Media Sites Leaving Ad Networks for More Attention?

  • by January 29, 2001
One crucial element to effective advertising is reaching your targeted demographics. This month, Winstar Interactive Media, a site-based advertising rep firm, won several significant new clients who had worked with major ad networks DoubleClick and Engage.

Winstar recently inked deals to become the exclusive online ad sales representative for Fodors.com, Guru.com, Entrepreneur.com, and TheStandard.com. While no one is calling these moves a trend, the jump to Winstar by such strong online brands begs the question, Why?

"I think what online advertisers are discovering is that buying an online advertising network is really the equivalent of buying Star Trek reruns at 3 a.m. on a traditional medium," says John Denny, vice president, marketing and business development, for Winstar Interactive. Denny says Internet advertisers are discovering what traditional advertisers have known for 100 years-that the quality of the audience, the quality of the product, and the bond that the audience has with the program they're watching-are necessary for effective advertising.

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On the Web publishers' side of the equation, ad networks sell these companies with hundreds of sites as part of a network buy, or as part of a channel buy, which could include as many as 30 sites. On the other hand, Winstar and site-specific ad rep firms like it, including rivals Phase2Media and Cybereps (which this month merged with Interep Interactive), offer a more customized approach by limiting the number of content sites they represent.

Winstar says it is the only ad rep firm of its kind to commit to servicing 20 or fewer sites at any one time, thereby allowing it to devote its staff of 28 people to the sites and offer customized, targeted programs for each client for a particular site. Such programs go beyond the traditional banner ads, such as creating an eye-catching 150-by-800 "super column," and including a text link or an e-mail element as part of a client's unique package, says Denny. The site-specific approach looks to answer the question, "Is the ad appropriate for the site?"

Others also contends that because the costs per thousand the ad networks can command are falling, in some cases to as low as $1, its clients, who make a commission off the CPMs, aren't making any money.

"Winstar is best suited to meet our advertising needs because they sell the sites that they represent individually, rather than as one site in a network of many sites where the value of your site and audience is potentially lost," says Debra Donovan, director of ad sales for Guru.com. "Their focus on selling sponsorships first means that we can garner a higher CPM, which is key to us meeting our revenue goals in the soft advertising and price-sensitive advertising market that we're all currently experiencing. It also allows for a deeper relationship with advertisers and the sites on which they advertise."

Today, Engage introduced four software suites in to address these very iss

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