Now we know a bit more about why Cox Enterprises, a private holder of cable systems, TV stations and newspapers, spent $300 million last summer to buy Adify.
Hint: Cox wanted a really big online ad network.
Some background: Adify is not an ad network but it is part of the reason everyone seems to have an ad network these days. It's a software services company that allows media companies -- or anyone, really -- to sign up websites and launch an ad network on the cheap.
Over the past few years literally hundreds of such networks have launched, including 160 powered by Adify, including some big-name vertical networks such as Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia's Martha's Circle, NBC Universal and Travel Channel's Flight Deck.
Well, it turns out even Martha Stewart can't move all the inventory on her ad network, so Cox is going to try to do it for them. Cox is launching Adify Media, which will sell that inventory along with Cox's owned properties such as Autotrader and Cox local TV stations.
It's a meta-network, but a potentially big one and a way for Cox to back into the mass internet advertising business. Its 69 million unique visitors lands it in ComScore's top 50 ad networks. "It provided a platform to work with existing Cox divisions, and also gave us a growth path outside our divisions into another industry," explains Rodney Mayer, a former Cox exec who is now general manager of Adify Media.
An ad network is only as good as its inventory, but Mr. Mayer argues that the sites have already been vetted by network operators and were selected in the first place for the quality of their content and audiences.
"Visitors are more engaged on these small niche sites," said Adify VP Joelle Kaufman. "People spend more time there, they are more engaged there. Finding them is not an insignificant task."