This week saw the wide release of DoubleClick's network builder product, a set of tools built on the Google subsidiary's DART for Publishers system. The product, which was first announced a year ago and has been offered in beta since October, helps ad network operators manage their relationships with partner sites.
Meanwhile Silicon Valley-based Adify, a pioneer in providing infrastructure and sales support to ad networks, announced two high-profile publishers have begun using its system. The Financial Times and AutoTrader.com are deploying Adify's platform to sell ads on behalf of publishers with similar audiences to their own. Adify powers at least 140 such niche and vertical networks.
DoubleClick says its network builder product has the advantage of integrating with the company's robust DART for Publishers ad management platform and its fledgling ad exchange. Among the ad networks now using it are Real Girls Media and InvestingChannel. According to the company, network builder customers are realizing improvements in efficiency and accuracy of 30 to 75 percent compared with previous systems.
For advertisers, these niche and vertical ad networks offer reach.
"Because the product helps publishers extend inventory, there's a natural benefit to advertisers," said Rany Ng, senior product manager at DoubleClick. "If they are working with a publisher they have an easier more scalable way to increase audience."
Some agencies have reported positive experiences with niche and vertical ad networks. Razorfish Chief Strategy Officer Jeff Lanctot recently told ClickZ recently, "The vertical ad network model provides more of a brand filter for Martha Stewart or MTV to say, we've looked across thousands of sites in our category and we've deemed these 20 or 30 to be the highest authority. I think that is a compelling story.
However senior media planners at agencies including Ocean Media and IPG-owned Initiative report their interest in niche ad networks is overshadowed by targeting technology that can achieve the same ends.
"This whole concept of data and targeting optimization is really what's going to start driving the business," Amy Auerbach, Initiative's SVP Interactive, said late last year.
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Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects.
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