Self-service online ad buying solutions have existed for more than a decade, dominated primarily by Google. Self-serve campaigns make it easy for a media planner to allocate small dollars to test the waters or big dollars if the platform performs well.
Search engines not withstanding, you can choose from many other self-serve online ad-buying options, with more being added all the time. I've compiled a master list here. If I've missed any, please let me know in the comments below.
First, a few caveats:
Self-serve campaigns, though often costing less money, can take up to 25 percent more time to set up and manage.
With self-serve, you really can't negotiate for bonus impressions.
Some self-serve solutions won't work with your ad server.
Campaign controls, like frequency capping, dayparting, and pacing, often aren't available.
Obtaining screen shots or proof of delivery could be more difficult or impossible.
Receiving makegoods for click or impression discrepancies will probably be tough.
And now, the list!
Self-Serve Display Ads
AdReady. AdReady builds custom ads by target audience and buy your campaign within the AdReady solution.
Adroll.com. AdRoll offers niche publishers and uses a proprietary visitor rating system to match advertisers with publishers.
Blogads. Blogads' ad units combine an image with linked text.
Entrecard.com (beta). Entrecard distributes 125 x 125 display ads across its blog network.
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A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."