BREAKING NEWS & VIEWS
Magazine Brands Extend Online Ad Reach
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Buying or partnering into blog networks has been one way of extending the imprimatur of a major content brand into larger ad inventories. Social media distribution is another. One company, ContextWeb, along with its ADSDAQ ad exchange, has been getting traction with a number of magazine brands recently because it lets premium content sites like FastCompany.com, SmartMoney.com and Parenting.com follow their own users out into the Internet to reach them with their ad clients’ messages.
“We have 25 partners, and half are magazine publishers,” says Ryan Becker, VP, platform sales, ContextWeb. Publishers put a 1-by-1 pixel on the site pages that can track their users as they move out into the Web at large. When an advertiser is looking for more inventory than the publisher can provide, the content provider can go onto the ADSDAQ exchange and put out a “request for avails” for the kind of ad inventory the client needs. “A publisher may get an RFP for $500,000 over two months to reach a certain audience based on targeting parameters,” Becker explains. “They may look at their inventory and see they only have $300,000 of media to propose back to the advertiser. You can use the extended network to respond back $500,000 or more with the same targeting parameters.”
The ContextWeb approach is distinct from other strategies in that it is an on-demand network and it retargets an audience contextually. The ADSDAQ technology reads the content on landing pages outside of the publisher’s home site so that the system can match the ad to its appropriate context anywhere. ADSDAQ offers more than 400 different content categories. For magazine publishers with limited but lucrative inventory in a specific segment of their site (i.e. travel, finance, etc.) the system lets them expand that inventory with the same quality audience, but do so at will and without long-term commitments to a network of partnered sites.
ADSDAQ reaches into 9,000 sites, but 175 of those are ranked among comScore’s top 250. Becker says the sites are vetted for quality. Nevertheless, inventory extensions bought on the exchange probably are less powerful and desirable than placements on the brand’s own site. “It may not be as effective as having that user based on our site, but it is still effective we have found,” says Jerry Ferrara, VP, advertising sales, Investors Business Daily, which uses ADSDAQ to extend Investors.com's inventory, which often gets sold out. “We have utilized it. The bulk of our proposals will be on-site, without a doubt,” he says. “With this retargeting program we use it to fulfill inventory we know we wouldn’t be able to fill. We also use it as a test, to see how things perform for the advertiser. We don’t want to get the spend without being effective. Our goal is to make our clients money.”
As Becker explains it, publishers may get a premium $30 CPM on their own site in a given contextual silo but find similar off-site inventory on the exchange for $5 CPM. The publisher can sell the package to the ad client either at a combined effective CPM of $12 or $13 or break it out into on-site and off-site elements. The final pricing is up to the publisher.
ADSDAQ is just one approach premium publishers are taking to leverage their content brands and the audiences they attract. Ad sales executives like Ferrara partner with other ad networks such as Platform A to fill in inventory, but many of their ad clients shy away from working with the massive nets directly and prefer to buy from highly targeted and prestige media. Some third parties offer publishers the power to roll their own vertical ad networks out of audiences that do not originate at the publisher’s own site. Last year scores of branded “ad networks” popped up around everything from The Today Show to BET. Finding the right combination of media brand reach and media brand effectiveness remains a core challenge for magazines as they look to exploit and manage the limitless ad inventory of the open Web.
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