IAC just launched a new ad network featuring some special audience targeting technology. The news drew praise from some of the press and sharp criticism from others.
Silicon Alley Insider lauded the move, as did CNET and Ad Age. At the same time, other outlets blasted the decision, accusing IAC of slapping fresh paint on the old IAC Advertising Solutions.
As a former IAC employee, what do I think? Can IAC really be a big player in the ad network space? Can they become an ad network that advertisers and brands must buy on? Can they become as essential to advertisers' online media plans as Google? The short answer is YES. Here's how.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
First, if IAC is really going to make a go of it, then they have to stop acting like a holding company. IAC must start running the show by dictating downward to the fiefdoms instead of letting the warlords of the individual companies rule the roost. IAC can be one of the few viable threats to the Google/Microsoft/Yahoo triumvirate, if they have the stomach for it. They have the products, technologies and audience. But singular operating goals of each individual company will always take precedence over true integration unless the bigger picture outweighs each brand's need.
Of course, that process will take some time. So what does IAC do in the interim? Set the groundwork.
"Audience Cubes" -- the segmentation of the company's massive audience --is only the beginning. If you do not think that IAC is going to shake things up over the next couple years, then you don't know Barry Diller. Regardless of what you may think of Diller, he is nothing if not brilliant. Trust me. He constructed an online media empire in IAC that is currently the only credible threat to the better known media juggernauts ahead of him. Everyone knows the brands: Match.com, Citysearch, Ticketmaster, LendingTree, Ask.com, Evite, HSN, and the list goes on for another 50 companies.
So what are the next steps for the IAC ad network? What should they do? If this was the first step, then what would they have to do for the IAC ad network to rule the roost with brands and consumers? Just two things.
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