Advertisers Overwhelmed by Online Network Choices, Says Study

Among the findings of a new report examining marketer views of online ad networks is a determination that many online advertisers wouldn’t shed tears if a wave of consolidation reduced the ranks of networks.

In its new 2007 Ad Network Study, Collective Media said it polled more than 100 American agencies and advertisers in February. The goal was to identify trends in the use of networks by advertisers and agencies, including why media buyers exclude networks from their media plans.

The report said respondents to its study “believe there are too many ad networks in the marketplace, making it more complicated to select which ad networks with which to work.” It said more than 62 percent of the surveyed media buyers held that belief.

However, there’s a bright side for online ad networks. While there are probably too many of them, respondents said, only 17 percent believe “all ad networks are alike.”

Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they believe the methods used by various ad networks to target audiences are the main differentiators. About 52 percent based their decision to choose a network on its ability to reach target audiences, while 66 percent said efficiency was the key driver.

Despite the grumbling about the sheer number of online ad network choices available, about two-thirds of advertisers said they plan to increase their use of networks this year. A total of 88 percent plan to use networks in 2007, ten percent more than in 2006.

Collective Media CEO Joe Apprendi noted 80 percent of the agencies and advertisers surveyed are still using online ad networks for direct marketing while 40 percent are using them for branding. He added, 25 percent of the respondents are not just measuring click or conversion rates but also interaction rates, “a very important metric.”

Aside from there being just too many competitors, the biggest hurdle facing networks is calming prospective clients’ fear of losing control, the study found. “When analyzing why agencies and advertisers limit their use of ad networks, editorial control was the biggest barrier at 59 percent,” the study said. “Audience duplication caused by publisher overlap among ad networks was a solid number two at 38 percent.”

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