Another Big Publisher Ditches Ad Networks

Earlier this year I wrote about Gawker’s abstinence policy with regard to ad networks. “We feel there absolutely is value in not wasting our readers’ attention on cheap, ugly advertisements… and maybe some good karma too,” Gawker sales head Chris Batty told me at the time.

Now another major publisher is following suit. ESPN has decided to sever ties with ad networks and exchanges, according to a story in MediaWeek this morning.

Both Gawker and ESPN have expressed hope other publishers will follow suit. It’s a great sales move, since it sends a message of love to brand advertisers and appears to take a stand against the math-driven approaches to ad targeting being championed by the major Web companies. But don’t look for a general publisher rebellion against networks. Abstinence may work for sites representing a potent media brand in a narrow category (like ESPN), or for networks independently run on a shoestring (like Gawker). But dozens of others are deeply reliant on the incremental revenue offered by arbitrage and algorithms.

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