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Advertising/Publisher Networks Booming or Busting?

Posted on 4.24.2007
There seems to be an influx of new advertising and affiliate networks recently. IAC Interactive is apparently readying a contextual network that will be incorporated into its Ask Sponsored Listings (ASL) platform and on several IAC-owned properties, such as Match.com, Ticketmaster, Evite and Citysearch. Ads will also appear on a few trusted publisher sites, most likely starting with some of the 90 publishers that syndicate Ask.com search results and search ads.

While competition is good for everyone, you have to wonder if the industry is starting to reach critical mass.

Case in point:  Yesterday, MediaTrust, Inc. announced availability of the next generation of Advario, an online ad platform powered by a contextual matching engine that serves display and in-text advertising for CPL, CPC, CPA and CPM campaigns.

"Since ad relevance drives ad performance, advertisers are looking for ways to reach online audiences in the most relevant way possible. Advario makes ads personal, so that they inform and help the user, rather than interrupt," said MediaTrust Chief Technology Officer, Joseph Matheny. "By analyzing overall site context rather than just single keywords, Advario delivers timely and intelligent ads that are more relevant and interesting to end users - and more profitable for our advertisers and publishers."

I could probably name 10-15 such networks off the top of my head. How will networks like MediaTrust sustain with the presence (and emergence) of higher profile networks like Ask/IAC? While Google is clearly the dominant market leader in online advertising and publisher solutions, companies like MediaTrust can - or could - make a name for themselves within niche industries. While signing on large, heavily trafficked publishers is probably not going to happen right out of the gate, they would be wise to cater to smaller, more niche "long tail" publishers to get their foot in the proverbial door.

The synergy between advertising and publisher networks is very much a "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" scenario. Publishers won't readily sign up to a service unless there are a substantial number of advertisers supporting the revenue share offered by the ad network itself. Advertisers won't sign on unless publishers in the network are capable of sending quality traffic to the advertiser's website. Companies like Ask have an edge against smaller networks because they have more traffic (thanks to existing partnerships) and a corral of advertisers looking to maximize their promotional dollar.

While it is a challenge to determine if advertiser/publisher networks are booming or busting, one thing you can be sure of is all such networks will be paying just as much attention to the chicken as they do the egg.
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