As the long tail fluffs out, staff-strapped publishers and the advertisers looking to reach their niche audiences are seeking ways to facilitate ad selling and buying. Recently-launched Adify is among the service providers looking to fill the gap between large, opaque ad networks and direct ad sales. The latest addition to the network's vertical site channels allows advertisers to reach seniors and baby boomers through multiple blog sites associated with Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW).
The VFW had no trouble handling ad management for its national and state level sites, explained VFW WebCom Network Managing Partner Ross Myers. "But when it came to managing 9,500 channels, we didn't have that capability." With only about 80 VFW-associated blog sites in use by local posts currently, the organization actually has nowhere near 9,500 fully-active sites to monetize with ads. However, the potential is there, as VFW WebCom moves out of stealth mode to promote in earnest the opportunity for local chapters to start blogging. Blogging war vets have already shown an interest in posting parade photos, spaghetti dinner notices, and the like.
One online direct marketer is set to launch rich media ads across all VFW WebCom Network sites in the next week, hoping to "reach a mature audience," according to Jim Larrison, Adify's general manager of business development. The Adify system has been implemented across all the local blogs, and the organization is in the process of enabling Adify-served ads in its Web-based e-mail interface and e-mail newsletters.
Myers expects political candidates and advocacy groups to show the most interest in advertising on the VFW WebCom sites, noting the high voter participation rate of VFW members -- mainly Korean War, WWII and a growing number of Vietnam War combat vets. "If you're a candidate hopeful and you have a message for the veteran vote, you don't necessarily need to reach [out] to the newspapers [or other traditional media]," he contended. Insurance, pharmaceuticals, and financial advertisers would also make a good fit for the VFW network.
Adify recently introduced a dog enthusiast site sub-network dubbed the Top Dog Network, and a cycling-centric sub-network called Clip-Ins, which counts PowerBar among its advertisers. The current collection of sub-networks also includes one encompassing Spanish-language sites and another featuring First Friday's local black networking sites. Adify expects a total of 10 to15 sub-networks by the end of the year.
The broader Adify network, which the company refers to as its "Marketplace," includes over 100 sites such as Photobucket and news aggregator Fark.com. About 100 publishers only use the company's e-commerce service, which allows them to sell direct online to advertisers, choosing not to sell through Adify's marketplace. Some sites go with both the marketplace and direct sales options. Publishers have the ability to sell text, graphic and rich media ads and sponsorships on a CPM or CPC basis using the system, which does ad serving, tracking, reporting and billing.
While large site networks like Advertising.com and ValueClick or Google's AdSense network provide less, if any, control to advertisers or publishers over what ads end up where, firms like Adify, AdBrite, Blogads and others are stepping in to offer advertisers the ability to buy small sites individually or across a small network or sub-network. Most large networks typically wouldn't enable VFW WebCom control and management over ads. Explained Myers, "When a buy occurs [through Adify], that buy goes into a holding space that provides us the opportunity to assess whether it would be appropriate or not to the network."
"We actually think there's nothing wrong with ad networks," stressed Adify COO Russell Fradin, a veteran of Flycast Communications, a buyer-centric ad network created in the early days of Web advertising. (Adify Chief Product Officer Richard Thompson and CEO Lawrence Braitman co-founded Flycast.)
Nowadays, believes Fradin, advertisers are increasingly interested in publisher brands, and buying quality niche sites. "We really want to enable the creation of that in the middle," added Fradin.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
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