CMOs: Just Say No To Ad Nets, Yes To Viral Marketing

Over the next six months, a majority of senior marketing executives -- 53% -- plan to spend less on ad networks, according to the results of an "Ad Effectiveness Survey" released by Forbes on Monday.

During February and March, "Respondents were by far the least happy with ad networks, with half saying that the results did not meet expectations," according to the survey of over 100 senior level executives.

"Ad network spending is all about demand fulfillment while direct-to-publisher display is much aligned with the traditional advertising goals of demand creation," said president and CEO Jim Spanfeller. "It is interesting to see the shift of dollars toward demand creation as we see signs of life in the economy."

Viral marketing and search engine optimization, meanwhile, are expected to see the biggest increases in spending in the coming months, according to Forbes, while behavioral targeting spending is expected to remain steady.



Indeed, among $1 million digital spenders, 54% expected to spend more on viral marketing, while 50% expected to spend more on SEO.

With regard to behavioral targeting, the greatest concern among respondents was its effectiveness, followed by fear of customer backlash.

Among the pool of senior marketing executives, the tools seen as most effective for generating conversions were SEO -- 48% -- email, and e-newsletter marketing -- 46% -- and pay-per-click/search marketing -- 32%.

Overall, respondents reported their appreciation for the halo effect that a Web site or publication can have on their brand, while 43% said that sponsoring a Web site, page or digital publication is the most effective digital tool when it comes to affecting brand perceptions.

Noted Spanfeller: "It's amazing that less than one-third of marketers are using brand perception metrics, despite the fact that the digital world makes brand perception research readily available and measurable."

A full 87% of respondents reported measuring results of their digital campaigns in some way, the most popular being benchmarking against goals set prior to the campaign.

The success of digital marketing appears to be measured by physical action, with impact to the bottom line being far and away the most important factor in determining success.

2 comments about "CMOs: Just Say No To Ad Nets, Yes To Viral Marketing".
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  1. Scott Smith from Chesapeake Media Partners, June 2, 2009 at 12:47 p.m.

    Gavin - you are too kind to Ad networks. MIVA, as an example, is a cash machine that (when operated by current management) is blind to measurement and only cares about clicks (accurate or not).

    Google is also a machine that if you are in need of an acct mgr, you better budget big money for your monthly spend and don't ask for recounts too often?

    SEO and page sponsorship are close to “bang for the buck theory” in value. Measurement will continue to be the buzz word – and usually come from the mouth of those that don’t know how to count it or use the data provided.

    You, as a watch dog have an interesting tight-rope to walk in reporting this subject. Marketing “wants” VS “needs” in this economy – placing “blame” for campaign failures and living (or dying) by results is the mantra of the day.

    Good luck!

    Scott Smith
    Chesapeake Media Partners

    current client of disaster.... a $75,000 boat that goes 5 miles per hour

  2. Andy Atherton from, June 8, 2009 at 6:41 p.m.

    Interesting article Gavin.

    Would take issue with Spanfeller's quote however. He’s right of course that the vast majority of ad networks are focused on demand fulfillment or DR or “bottom-of-the-funnel” (pick your favorite expression). But there’s an embedded assumption in his statement that the only alternative to DR-focused networks is direct-to-publisher.

    This is not true. delivers the positives of an ad network – scalability and efficiency - with a unique platform that was built by brand media experts for brand media experts. is the only ad network exclusively focused on demand creation.

    More on my blog post at:

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