Mention ad networks to a veteran of digital advertising and you're bound to get an earful -- some good stories and some bad.
Chances are that if you're talking to a publisher, especially one that specializes in premium content, you're going to hear that ad networks might just be the death of interactive. After all, they drive down ad rates and squeeze already razor-thin margins.
The following are insights about the horrors that can come from dealing with ad networks. Check out our follow-up article, in which we cover what marketers find heavenly about an ad network buy.
Talk to a brand manager, and you're likely going hear concerns about placement: "Will my ads appear next to the right kind of content or will I have to explain to my boss why we're sponsoring porn?" Or, perhaps you'll hear the questions wrapped up in an all too familiar word these days -- transparency: "Hey, what the heck am I buying, anyway?"
And if you talk to the ad networks, you'll hear some pretty standard, and altogether indecipherable, sales jargon about how they offer a "proprietary, next-generation platform" that offers "robust, dynamic targeting" and "unparalleled reach." Okay, maybe some ad networks do offer all of those things, but they can't all be the best, right?
But if you talk to a media buyer -- assuming you can pry those over-caffeinated, sleep-deprived souls from their laptops -- you'll hear that ad networks are the best way to achieve reach and frequency (and sometimes relevancy) on a tight budget and quick deadline. You'll also hear that whatever ills come with an ad network buy are simply the cost of doing business online these days.
But with more and more of the online advertising spend -- and user traffic -- going to ad networks, we decided to ask some buyers what they really think. But before we share the heaven and hell of working with ad networks, it should be pointed out that all of the buyers were asked about ad networks as a class, not about any specific ad network (although some were keen to speak out about particular ones). One additional note: Google is an ad network, and quite a successful one at that. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, some marketers have trouble classifying the search giant in this way.
The horror. The horror.
Next page >>