By Saul Hansell
It’s no longer enough to have a Web site. Blog software let absolutely everyone into that club. Now the way to fame and riches seems to be starting an advertising network.
In just the last two days, Martha Stewart Omnimedia, BuzzMetrics and ZoomInfo all said they would start ad networks. Most significantly, Facebook is preparing to start one that draws on the information it has about users.
Meanwhile, the existing networks are expanding. AOL just agreed to buy Quigo, which helps publishers sell advertising on their own sites. And Google, the biggest ad network by far, said it would start putting ads into videogames.
Martha Stewart has started Martha’s Circle,” a network that includes Apartment Therapy, 101 Cookbooks, Style Me Pretty and other sites that are “Martha-like in their aspirations and interests,” Wenda Harris Millard, the president of Martha Stewart Omnimedia, told Advertising Age.
For Martha, this is a way to leverage the company’s existing sales force and attract more attention from marketers because it can offer
them more reach.
Other sites are morphing their own business models to tap into the ad network craze. For example, ZoomInfo, a company that started out as a search engine for information about people, is now planning to use the data it gleans about people in a targeted ad network.
BuzzLogic is going the other way, trying to use software originally designed to help marketers find influential bloggers for advertising purposes. Its new ad network is meant to put advertisements next to discussions related to what they are trying to sell. Mortgage lenders, for example, can advertise on blogs talking about home buying.
Prediction 1: We’ll see dozens more ad networks announced in the next six months.
Prediction 2: 95 percent of them will be gone in two years.
Everyone who has ever sold advertising says that buyers like things to be simple. And the plethora of competing networks and technologies is anything but. Google has already proven that there is a powerful network effect to advertising. The more buyers and sellers in one place, the better prices for all.
Yes, there are some who argue that the rise of advertising exchanges, like Yahoo’s Right Media, will help make the market efficient for lots of players. That could be, but I’ll still stand by the idea that Google and a handful of others will end up with the vast bulk of the ad network business.