Ad networks are sophisticated operations designed to allow advertisers to place their advertising materials in front of selected individuals. The hope (and often the promise) is that these individuals are good prospects for the particular product or service on offer. But ad networks differ markedly in several ways, including:
How these individuals are selected or targeted
The range of publishers' sites on which the advertisements may appear
A network can also be categorized according to the nature of the financial arrangement between the advertiser, the network and the publisher. It may be a true network based on revenue sharing agreements across a wide range of sites, an arbitrage network that buys unused or unwanted inventory at bargain prices in hopes of repackaging and reselling it profitably, or a broker network that simply manages the transactions and adds no value for advertisers.
Despite the differences of emphasis, organization and approach, most networks offer a range of options, including demographic, geographic and dayparting. Many allow advertisers to mix and match various types of selectivity, creating a near infinite range of possibilities for finding specific categories of prospects and serving them targeted messages.
To help you cut through the complexity, here are brief descriptions of the major characteristics of today's most effective ad networks, each one accompanied by a list of ad networks that fit the descriptions.
When you see an online ad that somehow relates to the content you're browsing, you've been targeted by a Contextual Network. The basic concept behind this kind of targeting is that a person searching on a given topic, say new automobiles, is trying to learn about new automobiles and will be highly receptive to advertising that contains information about new automobiles. Technology varies, but generally revolves around keyword matching and some degree of content indexing and/or analysis, with variations ranging from fully automated site/page selection to fully human editorial judgment. Granularity varies from the entire site to individual web pages.
However implemented, the idea is that contextual ads won't be considered intrusive or annoying, but useful and valuable. What’s more, evidence shows that such ads and advertisers tend to be appreciated, and remembered far longer than equivalent but contextually-unrelated ads.
In contrast to traditional advertising selectivity, normally focused on demographics, geography and/or context, Behavioral Networks use online technology to analyze the actions and choices made by individuals -- searching, clicking, pausing on specific pages and so forth -- across a relatively wide range of websites. Complex algorithms then seek to infer from these behaviors the current interests of the individual working the keyboard, and to serve ads that conform to those interests.
Given the gigabytes of available data on specific consumer behaviors, the real value here is the ability to understand what each consumer is trying to accomplish and conceive a strategy to get advertisers favorably involved. Meaningful responses to issues of brand awareness and loyalty, purchase cycles and other behavioral angles can yield significant lifts over "run-of-site" advertising.
While many networks have recently begun to give their advertisers a list of the specific sites on which their messages have appeared, others do not share this information. These so-called "blind buy" networks nevertheless have a place in online advertising due to their controlled costs and undeniable ability to produce inquiries and purchases. These networks tend to be more readily accepted by hard-core direct-marketers, who focus mostly on results, and can make sense on a CPA basis because poorly placed ads can be seen as essentially free.
Certain networks tend to focus on marketing aimed at making an immediate sale. They offer access to more homogeneous pools of direct marketing-oriented sites, serve ads that usually contain a "buy now" or other actionable option and are equipped to more smoothly handle the logistics of credit card and other online transactions. Their charges are typically CPC or CPA, reflecting their heavily performance-based approach and minimal (if any) fees.
Advertisers interested in reaching people on single-issue, interest-oriented or otherwise highly specific websites will want to work with Vertical Networks, a more specialized version of contextual networks. Here they can literally blanket a field of interest with a high level of confidence that nearly everyone who cares about it will sooner or later be exposed to their advertising. Although most advertisers might consider this inventory low value because of the relatively limited reach or specialized nature of the audiences delivered, from a verticals perspective these ad slots can be prime real estate.
ClickDiario: Spanish-language sites
Jumpstart Automotive Media: automotive
NetShelter: 5 tech channels: IS/IT computing, tech & gadgets, consumer electronics, developer and games
Representation Networks – also known as Rep Firms – often don't want to be known as ad networks. These companies follow a markedly different model from most networks, focusing on selling the inventory from a relatively select set of websites instead of looking to sign up more and more sites of whatever quality, content or style. To a degree greater than with broader-based networks, a Representation Network functions as a sales force for the sites it represents. Many of these networks represent only a few hundred sites, although others number their member sites in the thousands.
Reach is achieved through reseller agreements, which allow Representation Networks to place ads on a site affiliated with another network. Even so, by working with Representation Networks, an advertiser can feel more confident that its brands will not be associated with questionable content or unsuitable websites.
One reason for the existence of ad networks is to match advertising to interested users. Specialty Networks are at the bleeding edge of this purpose, catering exclusively to advertisers who want to reach prospects distinguished by their willingness to interact with the internet via specific modalities, which at present boils down to mobile phone and other wireless handheld devices, blogs and video content.
Wireless companies have been spending freely and brainstorming heavily in efforts to find content they can stuff down the relatively thin pipe to the cell phone. As that trend picks up momentum, Mobile Networks will be the gatekeepers who can cost-effectively direct your advertising to the right prospects at the right time and place.
Blogs, on the other hand, have been a self-fulfilling word-of-mouth phenomenon, with more than 30 million blogs now available. Video also has a special attraction, and members of today’s younger generations seem to prefer it over most other forms of communications. If you want to advertise on these media, networks now make it easier.
Examples for Mobile Phones include:
Grey Stripe: mobile games
Third Screen Media
Examples for Blogs include:
Examples for Streaming Video content include:
By: Joanna Pe ña-Bickley Vice President, Interactive | Group Creative Director ON : DIGITAL MARKETING + MORE AT: http://joannapenabickley.typepad.com