OMMA Publish Panel Resurrects Ad Networks

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SO, is the new media world creating more pressure for brands and advertisers? 


“It’s wreaking havoc. I haven’t been home in three weeks,” said Ed Montes, EVP Havas Digital at the OMMA Publish show put on by Media post. “A traditional agency is not set up to handle a 200 site buy. It’s very painful. There’s tremendous friction.” 


“And it’s not just the agencies. Publishers are having problems too,” continued Montes. “Months and months go by and I don’t get bills from publishers,” 


“I’ve got some bills here, right in my pocket,” piped up Jim Spanfeller, President and CEO of 


The entertaining panel was convened to address the topic of ad networks. Amidst lots of joshing each other about their use of dot-jargot, the participants came to a surprising conclusion: Ad networks look poised to become a key part of our online media future. Why is this surprising? Ad networks have been clinging on for years through the dot-com nuclear winter, trying to prove their worth. The Burst Media and Valueclicks of the world have been getting the dregs of publishers’ inventory. Their demise was long predicted. But to listen to the OMMA panel, made up of ad network, publisher and agency people, this is about to change. 


[Definition Break: An ad network pulls together inventory from multiple publishers’ sites, including very small sites, and sells that inventory in big buckets. For example, an ad network might sell a demographic of women 18-49. The advertiser’s ad might then run on hundreds of sites all with that demo.] 


According to Spanfeller, ad networks are taking on agencies directly. “Ad networks have wrung the risk out. They buy all the inventory and assume all the risk.” This, he suggested, positions them to succeed. 


Answered ad-guy Montes, “You’re right! Agencies would never do that. I think that’s got to change.” 


An interesting comment. So will agencies be getting into the ad network business? Does online do anything but blur traditional distinctions? 


Apparently not, according to Wenda Harris Millard, Co-CEO of Martha Stewart Omnimedia and moderator of the panel. “What’s the difference between Yahoo! and an ad network?” she asked. 


Not much, the panel returned. “In fact,” said Spanfeller, “they are the world’s largest ad network. They vacuum up the ad networks. And they’re developing all this differentiating technology to remove the friction.” 


Jarvis Coffin, Co-founder and CEO of Burst Media agreed. “Portals aren’t going away. But ad networks are really pulling down the CPMs on portals.” 


“De-portalization!” piped up Harris Millard. “We love to make up new words in this industry.” 


“Wait,” said Spanfeller, “I haven’t said ‘riff’ yet.”