Mainstream publishers are leaping into the ad network business with increasing frequency. Why, you may ask? After all, isn't it hard enough for publishers to fill the ad inventory on their own domains? Or have they secretly been selling out 100 percent of all their ad placements without telling anyone? If so, I hope they haven't been taking TARP funds under false pretenses.
But seriously, there are some rational reasons for embarking on this strategy. First, creating a network of sites with similar content helps extend a publisher's dominance in a particular category. Build a large enough network of affiliates and, presto, you are no longer the No. 25 site in MediaMetrix; you are No. 3. Impressionable media buyers will be impressed with your reach, and shareholders will be happy with your ranking.
Second, build a network now, and you'll beat your competition to it and leave them in the dust down the road. And finally, to be fair and balanced, some publishers actually do find themselves selling out of highly targeted inventory in travel, health, and automotive, even if a fraction of run-of-site inventory actually gets sold.
For all these reasons, be they rational, sound business reasons or not, websites with a single dotcom domain are extending their reach by building networks. However, many of them underestimate the challenges associated with this model. Believe me, it is not for the faint-hearted or unprepared.
Here are some of the most unappreciated and underestimated challenges associated with running an ad network, especially if you are a publisher starting out as the new "owner-operator."
Your options for supporting a network are varied. Mainstream publishers can attempt to do it with their existing ad serving solution and internal support staff, but frankly they are doing it at their own peril. The danger here is that you will be complicating an already complex business model by relegating it to a series of internal spreadsheets and marginal customer support from your internal resources, which are probably already overtaxed.
Your best bet is to outsource support of your network to firms who are experienced and focused on that business model instead of using a do-it-yourself approach. Make sure you can get as close to an end to end solution as possible, ranging from deployment of tags, to customer support, trafficking and optimizing, inventory management, and billing/invoicing.
Expanding your business to a network model is not for the faint hearted, but given the right planning and resources, in can expand the reach and exposure of your core brand as a publisher.
Doug Wintz is principal and founder of DMW MediaWorks.
Not a People Connection member?
Hi Doug,Not sure if you are familiar with adConductor a division of Burst Media. We help companies build their own ad network providing end-to-end management including forecasting/set up, ad serving, reconcillations/billing payments and publisher management/recruitment. adConductor™ is a one-stop solution that completely integrates sales, campaign management, reconciliation and billing. Proven technology and Burst Media's years of experience building and running premier ad networks..Please let me know if you would like more information.thanks,Stephanie
Sam...feel free to email me at email@example.com and we can discuss. Doug
Great article... i want to start one but you didn't mention what software i can use? I want sites to sign up as publishers and get code that will deliver our ad inventory... plus show them reports on earnings... Any suggestions on where i can find this type of software?
Doug, love the article. I've done that exact job starting in 1997 for Flycast. The one point where i think you miss the target is your final point about outsourcing the relationship. Big Mistake unless you don't mind having direct relationships with your biggest asset. Many publishers become part of the Family and we all rejoice in our collective Wins.
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