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Here an Ad Network, There an Ad Network

I think it's official, everyone is now in the ad network business:
Called “Martha’s Circle”, the network pulls together websites and blogs with dynamic user-bases and rich content worthy of association with the Martha (Stewart) brand.

So just how crowded is this field? Ok, just off the top of my head, here's a list of ad networks out there:

Google's adsense - the top dog

Y! Publisher's network - hardly a viable #2 anymore

Right Media - part of the Y! family

Microsoft - monetizing the Facebook and Digg pages - anywhere else?

Tacoda - behavioral targeting in the AOL family

Quigo - last I checked, not too many advertisers. Mostly a technology where sites can sell ads themselves, but a small network nonetheless. AOL bought them too...

FM - monetizing the pages of various bloggers through "conversational marketing" - whatever that means.

Ad.com - another part of the AOL family (that's 3 in that family for those keeping score at home);

Intermarkets - monetizing Matt Drudge's pages, on a daily basis

Tribal fusion - been around so long I almost forgot about them....

Burst Media - monetizing page views for "specialty content" providers, whatever that means.

AdBrite - may be more of an ad serving system than a network, but my recollection is they do have a pool of advertisers for back-fill.

And then there's the various affiliate networks out there - Amazon, Ebay, LinkShare, etc. etc. Also, don't forget the newspapers keep theatening to get into this space. And now we also have Martha....

Again, this is a list of networks rattled off the top of my head in five minutes. If you want a really long list of ad networks here you go. Also, I didn't include Facebook in this list because, as far as I know, Facebook ads are not being exported off-site.

Anyway, isn't it funny that despite all these networks, no publisher can seem to get a decent CPM out of their display network. Maybe advertisers have too many options. Since none of the display networks are delivering clicks anyway, there's no good measurement for success, which means that all these ad networks are selling the same BS demographics and really just competing on price. (I know that when I was buying ads for Topix, I based all my buying decisions based on price.) With so many options out there, the price keeps coming down....

Unless you can figure out how to deliver clicks, I'm thinking that the right move is to just open source the ad market by creating an ad network that pays publishers 99% of the revenue (i.e. everything but the cost). Maybe you can get enough publishers to adopt it that there would be critical mass and then you could actually start selling for a higher CPM. If nothing else, you'd get market share - and market share, while not necessarily revenue, does seem to command a purchase price. Who knows?

Until then, just like the old Cracker song goes, what the world needs now is another ad network, like I need a hole in my head.

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Comments (1)

The only ad network I have ever had success with was ViralyticsMedia.com. They are more of a site repping company, but if you can get in with them they are pretty solid. Customer support sucks, but they pay well.

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