Network Ads

Benefits of Network Ads

An online advertising network or ad network is a company that connects advertisers to web sites that want to host advertisements. The key function of an ad network is aggregation of ad space supply from publishers and matching it with advertiser demand. The phrase "ad network" by itself is media-neutral in the sense that there can be a "Television Ad Network" or a "Print Ad Network", but is increasingly used to mean "online ad network" as the effect of aggregation of publisher ad space and sale to advertisers is most commonly seen in the online space. The fundamental difference between traditional media ad networks and online ad networks is that online ad networks use a central ad server to deliver advertisements to consumers, which enables targeting, tracking and reporting of impressions in ways not possible with analog media alternatives.

Increased reach into high Quality Environments

Access to media space from the biggest online media outlets is limited. Many companies can not afford the prices of ads on dominant portals such as AOL, Yahoo! or MSN. Big brands often tie up exclusive deals with these portals and pre-book the inventory.

In addition, the online media market is becoming increasingly complex and fragmented. Media consumption follows the same trend: Internet users are turning more and more to specialist outlets that offer them targeted and high quality content, which leads to higher costs and smaller audiences for publishers.

In a market where access to quality media is limited, ad networks offer advertisers increased reach into quality media environments. Networks are able to aggregate access to highly targeted, quality environments that offer incredible specificity in the B2C and B2B markets.

For media planners, getting reach and targeting at the same time is ideal. Take the example of locally targeted and geo-targeted campaigns. The yellow pages of the world are definitely not ready yet to offer both to advertisers.

Quality is also sustained by the input of media planners. They can now suggest new sites to ad networks that can be added to custom media buys. Ad networks are offering more and more transparency, revealing the list of publishers they work with and (just like in an affiliate program) you can opt-out of certain sites. Transparency and accuracy are backed up by industry authorities.

Struggle for ROI
Ad networks offer media planners the option to switch to a CPA model on a long-term basis. Lead generation campaigns only work with volume, multiple touch points and low-entry cost.

The main reason network buys are successful in delivering good CPA is that they provide the branding and frequency element everybody tends to forget about.

Very often, one will notice post-impression conversion, which is a reminder that contextual advertising is important for branding and lead generation rather than just immediate direct sales.

Audiences Reactions are Unpredictable
Audiences don't always behave the way we expect. It can be surprising to see where a household insurance company gets the best results from an online campaign - a finance site or a travel site? Let’s look at the consumer mindset: On a personal finance site one might be busy checking shares levels; on a travel site a user is booking a holiday in the knowledge that he or she will be leaving the house exposed to burglars.

Acceleration recently conducted a campaign for a major car rental company and we found that most bookings were made by visitors that clicked through from entertainment and music sites rather than by ones who came from travel sites.

More often than we realize, the mindset of the audience is much more important than its surfing environment. People don't do things in the order we expect them to; brand loyalty is on the decline, and comparison shopping is common practice.

Because audience behaviors are so unpredictable, it is important for media schedules to remain flexible so they can adapt quickly to guarantee that the best performing placements are retained against non-performing placements. With ad networks, inventory shift is easy and often automatically optimized based on the ROI delivered.

Technology and Targeting
Ad networks offer multiple targeting options like demographics, site genre, geography, day part and so on. They can optimize any campaign based on these variables. One of the most interesting options is behavior targeting: targeting by users' activity on the advertiser site. This reminds marketers that the most important thing for them is to understand their audience and how visitors interact with their products and services.

Media planners are used to referring to research and demographic data to build media plans. They are predicting a reaction. Now media planners should use Web site activity data and be proactive in optimizing their campaigns accordingly.

If a visitor leaves your site it is not necessarily because it is a bad lead, but perhaps because you served up the wrong landing page or did not provide the right information at the right time. This is where analytic tools can come into powerful play. Analytics solutions should be integrated with media planning.

Marketers should not only leverage ad network targeting and optimization technology but also make the most of Web site measurement and analytics solutions. Behavior targeting options include remarketing to somebody who abandoned the shopping cart -- a tactic that is proving successful for many marketers. This success is a reminder that you will always get a better ROI from previous visitors than new ones.

Is retention becoming a real part of media planning strategies? With such an eclectic media landscape and varied surfing behaviors, retaining first time visitors is becoming the media teams' responsibility. Media planners should add a second layer of pre-retention to their campaign in order to maximize performance.

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