Warning: Online Advertising Networks

An online advertising network or ad network buys advertising space on any websites and sells that as package deals to advertisers . The key function of an ad network is aggregation of ad space supply from publishers and matching it with advertiser demand.

The advertising network market is a large and growing market, with Internet advertising revenues expected to grow to $240bn in 2019.

Online advertising may be on websites on desktop computers and mobile devices, in RSS feeds, on blogs, in instant messaging applications, mobile apps, e-mails, and on other media.

Large publishers often sell their remaining advertising space through ad networks.

Online advertising networks typically use these three approaches:-

  1. Vertical Networks: The network works with a group of publishers in an industry sector e.g. travel and any advertisers will be able to see where their adverts will be positioned.
  2. Blind Networks: These companies offer good pricing to direct marketers in exchange for those marketers not knowing control over where their ads will run. Blind networks achieve their low pricing through bulk buying of advertising space and mopping up last minute spaces available.
  3. Targeted Networks: these focus on specific targeting technologies such as behavioural targeting and contextual targeting.

The Issue With Ad Networks

Location: Most ad networks do not disclose where the ads will be placed for how many impressions.  So advertisers are in the dark to some degree and may end up with their ads appearing on sites they would not want to be associated with e.g. gambling sites carry a lot of ad network adverts.

Pricing: An advertiser may buy a package of advertising space that includes some sites they like. However the ad network may place very little on those sites as they are probably more expensive and instead place most of the ads on lower quality websites which will be cheaper.

This way the ad network can make larger profits at the expense of quality.

Relevance: Ad networks may place ads anywhere they can get bargains and this is likely to be sites that are irrelevant for the advertiser. This leads to poor results and failure to communicate with the chosen market.

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