Ad Network Turn Offers Blend of Pricing Models

Ad networks are working hard to introduce more choice into the digital ad marketplace, as evidenced by the growing number that now offer a range of targeting options and pricing/bid models. Yet none has so far succeeded in going completely agnostic.

Until now. Or at least that’s what Redwood City, CA-based Turn claims.

Turn, whose one-year-old blind ad network has built up an impressive roster of agency and publisher partners, promises ad buyers can purchase media on whatever terms they choose. It says they can target ads according to behavior, demographics, context or whatever other data a site owner offers up. Perhaps more compelling, they can name their preferred pricing model: cost per click (CPC), cost per thousand (CPM) or cost per acquisition (CPA).

Turn executives say the company’s platform uses machine learning to identify the best opportunities for a given ad placement. It does this, they say, by comparing CPC, CPM, and CPM bids against one another to determine which will offer a publisher the highest effective CPM for its unsold inventory. (Publishers calculate effective CPM by dividing total earnings by the number of impressions in thousands covered by a sale.)

“It enables you to combine a pretty wide range of pricing methods for different goals,” said Philip Smolin, Turn’s VP of product marketing.

Turn says it’s taken a year to build up the inventory and the trafficking experience to know when to serve an ad and at what price point. That’s a particular challenge when it comes to CPA bidding, which is more complicated than click- or impression-based ad buying. The company says its network now peddles inventory from 3,000 sites and 500 agency and advertiser buyers.

Advertisers can manage their buys with Turn Networks on a self-serve or managed account basis. Smolin believes most agency clients will prefer the latter as it will allow better forecasting and predictability of inventory and billing.

“The reality for a lot of agencies is they get paid based on how much they spend,” he said. “They need to have an assurance of how much they will spend for the month. We have to honor their business process, but we still want to automate the targeting process.”

Keith Pieper, director of performance media for UniversalMcCann in San Francisco, has experimented with Turn from the buy side during the platform’s trial phase. Pieper said the performance of the network has improved considerably over the past year.

Related reading