Commentary

Should Adobe Build An Ad Network?

Adobe is at an interesting crossroads. In terms of online media, the company is on top of the world, with incredibly high adoption rates of the Flash standard. But for mobile devices and systems in the living room, the company is furiously trying to expand its market, and is doing a pretty good job. Flash is finding its way onto Connected TVs. Most smartphones will be supporting AIR 2.0 and Flash 10.1 in the next 18 months. Apple, the one company seemingly resisting Adobe's siren call, is still supported with Creative Suite 5's ability to export a flash file as an iPhone app. As these partnerships hit the market, Flash may be the first true three-screen development platform for gaming.

This expanded footprint begs the question: Should Adobe think about advertising potential? When Apple launched the iPhone SDK, the company missed a very big boat by not offering an ad network to monazite its free apps. Now Apple just bought up Quattro Wireless, a company to do just that, for $275 million. To genuinely foster unified development across mobile, TVs, and PCs, Adobe is going to have to build in some really neat tricks around porting and UI flexibility. If the company does this work for the core programs, there is a major competitive advantage in providing the same for the ads.

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There are some decent ad networks in Flash-based games, in mobile phones, and I'm sure will be there eventually with Connected TVs. But a network allowing publishers to serve each screen with an optimally formatted ad regardless of the device, and which can accomplish this requiring nothing more from ad creatives than assets in a format they will already be working with -- well, that's a really neat concept. In fact, Adobe already owns two companies well-suited for enhancing an ad network: Omniture, an analytics company, and Scene7, a content management and asset publishing solution.

While I wouldn't count it out entirely, it's probably unlikely that Adobe will build an ad network. But it'd be a great day in game marketing if the company did, and that doesn't even consider the other implications outside of gaming -- such as the potential for an expansion of the PDF standard to enable dynamic serving of ads and a new revenue stream to academic or B2B publishing.

2 comments about "Should Adobe Build An Ad Network? ".
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  1. Michael Quintos from Digital Ad Agency, February 19, 2010 at 11:48 a.m.

    Adobe has an ad network; it is called Adobe Distribution Manager. I have used it and it is very "tailored" to web 2.0

  2. Josh Lovison from Josh Lovison Consulting, February 19, 2010 at 3:10 p.m.

    Michael,

    I mean an ad network for display ads, not for distributing applications.

    A la Mochi, AdMob, Quattro, etc.

    Distribution Manager seems dedicated to driving application distribution, but not something that CPG, Auto, etc brands would use unless promoting an app. It also looks to be acting almost as a frontend for Gigya.

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