In today’s market, publishers are challenged to find ways to expand beyond their organic growth to keep pace with increased competition for marketing dollars. The more inventory that there is to sell, the greater share of the advertising spend. Unfortunately, publishers are losing an uphill battle with large advertising networks for market share, largely due to the fact the networks can grow faster and bigger by aggregating thousands of other sites. Today advertising networks control significantly larger amounts of inventory in major verticals than do large publishers, which equates to a greater share of advertising dollars for the networks.
Consider this: if you asked the average person to name the top online sports source in the syndicated research rankings, you’d expect to hear answers like ESPN.com or FOX Sports. What you wouldn’t expect to hear is an ad network like Google AdSense, Advertising.com or Gorilla Nation. But the truth of the matter is that in top verticals like sports, automotive, real estate and entertainment, the big ad networks consistently beat out top Web publishers in terms of online traffic. The most recent Web traffic data from comScore (April 2007) reveals that advertising networks drew the majority of unique visitors. In some instances, the advertising networks had twice the number of unique visitors than the sites one would usually associate with that vertical. Who would doubt that ESPN.com isn’t the largest sports property? The list of top 50 most visited Web properties continues to include more ad networks, and large publishers need to take an aggressive stance against Google and the other advertising networks to wrest control over their inventory.
Ad networks are successful because they can manage and maintain strong relationships with lots of partners and advertisers. The fact that the networks have the flexibility to be more aggressive, and the single-minded focus to build scale, quickly puts the traditional publisher at an immediate disadvantage. So the question remains: How can large publishers take back control and gain immediate access to more inventory that they deserve?
One solution is for these publishers to create their own ad network, and partners such as Pulse 360 offer products like the Publisher Vertical Network (PVN) to make that a reality. Sincelarge publishers have the brand recognition, resorces and advertiser relationships to create their own networks, they offer a unique, compelling solution for any smaller site. These sites, that now feel captive to the likes of AdSense, can join a new network for access to not just cost-per-click dollars, but CPM and video and other branded content. The largest publisher in any given vertical has the deepest relationships with endemic advertisers because their content resonates with users. As a result, they can sell inventory at higher rates than anyone else. By creating a PVN, the larger publisher can syndicate content and tools to each member site and link to them to increase their own inventory.
Quite simply, the Web’s best sites can beat the networks at their own game because, with a PVN, they have the resources to do so. It’s a win-win-win situation: large publishers gain immediate access to inventory they can sell; member sites who join a branded network have the opportunity to align with a larger, respected brand in their category to add more advertising revenue, access engaging content to enhance their site and increase their traffic; and advertisers have even more opportunities to find and target their customers online.
It’s time for publishers to step up and take ownership of what should be theirs.