NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Magazine giant Time Inc. is trying to build its online ad business with an ad network of its own that will, among other things, allow advertisers to make targeted buys across the well-lit, advertiser-friendly web sites operated by the company.
Ad networks, in their simplest form, allow a marketer to reach a large audience efficiently and at a lower cost than it could by packaging together tens or hundreds of websites on its own. And they've quickly become huge. Fully 65% of online ad spending will pass through ad networks in 2009, according to Jupiter/Forrester research. Now publishers are finding it increasingly important to aggregate, polish and enhance their online content along network lines.
Time Axcess, as it calls its package of inventory and targeting abilities, lags the debut of ad networks from rival media owners by a year or more, but the company said it was still confident the product would get traction. Competitors including Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Conde Nast are using outside partners to get big enough audiences to attract advertisers, but Time Axcess will offer impressive scale with the company's own well-known properties.
Its biggest sites include People, which attracted 13 million people in March, according to Compete; Time, which attracted 4.8 million; and Sports Illustrated, which got 4 million. In all, the 26 websites in Time Axcess reach 27 million unique visitors.
Advertisers will probably welcome the new network, a digital media buyer said. "First off, I know who Time Inc. has," said Michael Hayes, exec VP-managing director at Initiative Digital. "Even if I don't know the exact placement of the inventory, when I go to talk to Dr Pepper or Kia or Bayer, that creates comfort for them. When I tell them it's running on an ad network and it's blind, they get incredibly uncomfortable, and rightly so."
The in-house network should help Time Inc. avoid letting outside networks take a cut for selling some inventory, said Kirk McDonald, president of Time Inc. Digital. "Ad networks buy inventory today from companies like us at pennies on the dollar," he said. "We're going to take the same impressions that today we're getting pennies on the dollar for, and get dollars for those."
The new dollars, Time Inc. hopes, could be big. "This is brand new for us," Mr. McDonald said. "With our first year out we are looking at millions right now. Over time, this does become tens of millions."