New ad sizes and technologies are helping ad networks offer more to publishers. Last month, IAB identified new online ad formats that will help make units more noticeable by using such high-resolution and interactive elements as movie trailers and videos, games, quizzes and shopping modules.
Ad technology company Flite, with a number of ad networks as clients, is taking advantage of this initiative. The company is developing extremely rich, detailed ad units that can actually adapt to the various websites they appear on, customizing content based on context.
“I would love to see a shift so that the types of creative running on networks are those that are high-value to the viewer,” said Giles Goodwin, Flite president. “The true strength of this is good creative, meaning end-users will engage with, and not be blind to, the ads. That would be a game-changer for networks.”
Technological advances are helping video ad network BrightRoll. The company last month announced a partnership allowing it to use comScore's analytics and validation tools to optimize online video in real time and make comparisons with offline campaign spending. BrightRoll has also forged a partnership with Adometry to help eliminate invalid or potentially fraudulent click behavior and enhance network quality.
“They're not after penny-per-click traffic, but rather delivering high quality for publishers,” O'Brien said.
On the mobile marketing front, the very definition of an ad network is morphing. Local mobile ad network xAD, for example, which recently gained $4 million in venture capital funding, offers a network technology based on location rather than third-party websites, identifying who, what and where end-users are, and serving relevant clicks, calls and check-ins to them. XAD claims more than 1 million advertisers, and serves 200 million mobile ads a month.
The bottom line is that ad networks today are no longer secondary options in the media buying world.
“What we've learned is, sometimes the ad network is the better buy,” McDermott said. “Once you've created awareness with buys on premium content sites, you can use networks to keep the ball rolling.” And if the network chooses to create and manage the targeting data, you can use them to get very narrow as well.”