Today was Media Post’s first iteration of a conference specifically focused on the topic of ad networks. (OMMA Ad Nets) I moderated a panel entitled “”Buyers Place Their Bets: Are Networks Living Up to Their Hype?” (details on the panel at the end of this post).
You know, sometimes one can get caught up in the sizzle of social media and mobile and all the great new media channels to reach and engage consumers, and lose sight of the steak of the mainstream digital media world. Today was one of those days that reminded me about that, and the several billion dollars generated by ad networks each year. Ad networks were once a mundane source of cheap remnant inventory at scale, but have seriously evolved. Vertical ad networks are aggregating audience contextually, while horizontal ad networks have become purveyors of sophisticated technology, algorithms and data, which helps agencies and marketers reach specific audiences based on a myriad of criteria. We see the application of data and technology to media and audiences evolving constantly. Some prime examples – AOL’s purchase of Tacoda in 2007 helped to create the largest network on the internet, Platform A, and more recently Akamai’s recent acquisition of Acerno to “…benefit the ecosystem of ad networks, online publishers and Internet advertisers by providing them with real-time, actionable data to serve more relevant marketing messages”, as stated by Mike Afergan, Akamai’s chief technology officer and SVP of Advertising Decision Solutions.
As a digital media-ologist, if you will, one theme stood out the most today at OMMA Ad Nets…
The large scale media agencies will eventually all have their own ad hoc networks: Data and technology are not only intrinsic to the network model, but competition is pushing the envelope. Soon we will see some of the data ownership shift to the agencies. There is tremendous power and efficiency when you control the data. Apparently, Havas Digital claims to have profiled 1/3 of the internet population and now issues “open insertion orders” for multiple clients at once. Their controlled data points dictate which client’s ads to serve against any given impression.
Don Epperson from Havas Digital was very upfront about it – in fact his keynote focused on Havas’ adNetic product that they developed to control the data and develop ad hoc networks, while other agencies were not as willing to share their strategies and direction in the regard. But make no mistake about it – the big agencies are stepping up. Scale is always a point of discussion when it comes to ad networks, behavioral targeting and generally applications of online advertising technology. Well, if it’s scale you want, look no further than the big media agencies.
Buyers Place Their Bets: Are Networks Living Up to Their Hype?
After hearing the horizontal and vertical nets debate their case, our panel of media buyers enters the fray. Do they buy the arguments from the vertical networks that they curate and cultivate specialized content so advertisers get better and broader reach for niche audiences? Is this vertical inventory really more valuable to a buyer than the targeted remnants from a horizontal channel? Which of these models is aggregating the mid and long tail most effectively? Vertical networks help smaller and independent publishers get better CPMs. They are designed to capture what they hope are more engaged and receptive audiences for advertisers. Are they living up to their own hype? Is this argument over content quality important to buyers, or are most of them still just buying any kind of lightly targeted eyeballs? Our panel of media buyers and marketers explore whether the many offerings represent a fad or a model and whether more value really is being injected into the marketplace.
Moderator: Jason Heller, EVP, The Laredo Group
Lauren Boyer, Partner and Chief Global Strategist, Underscore Marketing
Russell Fradin, President, Adify
Shane Kay, VP, Digital Negotiations Director, Ford Motor Media
Joanna O’Connell, Razorfish NYC
Nate Woodman, SVP Strategic Development, Havas Digital