Ad Networks, Vertical Ad Networks, and Affiliate Networks by Peter Figueredo

by Shawn Collins on June 4, 2008

The basics that every advertiser and publisher should know

I recently attended ad:tech San Francisco, which boasted nearly 15k attendees. I enjoyed catching up with old friends, having brainstorming sessions over drinks, and even accepting an ad:tech finalist award for “Best Affiliate Marketing Campaign” (congrats to Schaaf Consulting who was the category winner).

However, my major take away from the conference was that our industry is flooded with affiliate networks, ad networks, and vertical ad networks, as evidenced by the volume of booths in the exhibit hall claiming to be the leading network. While the growth in the ad network space is certainly not new, it has exploded over the past 12-18 months.

The growth of vertical ad networks makes lots of sense, since many advertisers are frequently looking to tap into relevant niche websites. Where ad networks include a broad mix of many websites (for example, advertising.com), vertical ad networks are much smaller, but highly targeted to particular content areas (for example, traveladnetwork.com).

Why Should You Care?

Publishers need to cut through the noise and decide which type of network (or combination thereof) to associate themselves with. Advertisers need to build strategies to effectively utilize an optimal mix of these marketing channels.

Value to Publishers

All three of these marketing channels offer publishers access to many leading advertisers through a system that streamlines the process of:

  • finding advertisers
  • launching campaigns
  • tracking performance
  • receiving payments

Where they are different requires a closer look:

Peter Chart 1

Value to Advertisers

The ability to easily run ad campaigns across a multitude of websites speaks to the scale offered by these channels and highlights one key advertiser benefit offered by these marketing channels.

Many sites that appear in these marketing channels would never make it to a media plan on their own, because of their limited audience and reach. However, they can work with leading advertisers through these channels and reap the rewards of those relationships.

Here are some differences:

Peter Chart 2

Summing Up

If you decide to explore any of these channels, do your homework first. While there are a number of benefits in doing so, there are also pitfalls, such as how to ensure your ad network buys do not poach your affiliates etc., but I will save those for future articles.

Peter Figueredo is the CEO and Co-Founder of NETexponent, a performance marketing agency that is efficient, evolving, and ethical. Their suite of services includes Affiliate Marketing Management, Media Partnerships, and PPC Search Marketing.

Download issue 1 of FeedFront at http://feedfront.com/feedfront-issue1.pdf.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Shawn Collins June 4, 2008 at 7:12 am

We received the following feedback to this article…

On page 31 of the magazine, isn't Linkshare an exclusive network and they are quite a big dog on the block. According to the table, it says “Never Required”.

I know they were open to negotiation on exclusivity years ago when I approached them. Is it all gone now?

Peter Figueredo June 4, 2008 at 8:30 am

Thanks for posting this comment Shawn and thanks for the opportunity to be a part of FeedFront Issue #1

The “never required” note was referring to publishers, not advertisers. None of the major affiliate technology platforms (CJ, LinkShare, Performics, ShareASale, etc) require publisher exclusivity.

However, It is true that LinkShare still requires exclusivity of its advertisers.

I tried to make this clear by seperating the sections by value to publishers and value to advertisers but i see that I could have done a better job.

Thanks for the feedback

MediaTrust June 15, 2008 at 1:03 pm

Peter
great post and insight. I could not agree more. i think some one needs to write a post called “die network die”. not only are there to many network. but the word network alone needs to evolve with innovation. network seems so one dimensional in comparison to where the world of media advertising and technology is heading. We are moving into the world of open modular platforms that are agnostic , 3 dimensional and highly scalable.

Our new systems that we have been building for the last 2 years are all integrated into a performance marketing platform. the network will be a layer on the platform. we are going to move away from our Advaliant affiliate marketing division being called a affiliate network.

MediaTrust June 15, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Peter
great post and insight. I could not agree more. i think some one needs to write a post called “die network die”. not only are there to many network. but the word network alone needs to evolve with innovation. network seems so one dimensional in comparison to where the world of media advertising and technology is heading. We are moving into the world of open modular platforms that are agnostic , 3 dimensional and highly scalable.

Our new systems that we have been building for the last 2 years are all integrated into a performance marketing platform. the network will be a layer on the platform. we are going to move away from our Advaliant affiliate marketing division being called a affiliate network.

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