Over the last few years, we’ve heard all the talk about display advertising, real time bidding platform, demand side platforms, exchanges, you name it. Yahoo, Google, Microsoft have all bought companies with solutions, and they have all pushed that these methods will open inventory to almost anyone to buy and bid on advertising. Still, despite this, display advertising is still barely used by the average performance marketer or affiliates – most networks, most exchanges and most bidding platforms are not accessible to buyers.
Most advertising networks do have some performance marketing division: usually taking campaigns from CPA networks, throwing them up, doing almost nothing to really optimize it. They use the campaigns to fill their inventory, raise their eCPMs. Many of them have contacts with major media buyers at performance marketing agencies, who buy some of their inventory. Along with that, some “super-affiliates” and “flog-sites” buy inventory in large amounts. However, the average affiliate has no way to access this inventory.
The reasons are simple: the price point is usually to high to start, and there is no easy way to access the inventory.
Even though there are tons of exchange platforms and now RightMedia feeds into DoubleClick Exchange, which feeds into a dozen other platforms, most affiliates can’t access this inventory. The average campaign price is $5,000 often, and because of still poor optimization abilities on the platforms, this will often be spent overnight on just a few sites. Any normal performance marketing company, that wants to perhaps test 10 products, $500 per product, per channel, finds that it is almost impossible to do so.
For whatever reason, exchanges and networks still ask buyers to spend way too much money to buy significant inventory. While there are more than a few companies that offer site-by-site buying, it’s often too tedious for people to test different creatives, different products. Just look at AdBrite, which recently somehow changed into an “exchange” without changing the technology or the content. It’s still a cumbersome process to access sites, upload creatives and try to somehow optimize.
Networks need to look at the Facebook model, which allows people to upload ads, test different targets easily, and frankly pay really low CPM per advertisement. People can test $50 for one advertisement, with a really narrow target, see results immediately. Networks on the other hand usually have no self-serve platform, no ability to test narrow targets especially with lower budgets.
Networks claim its too cumbersome, but that sounds like excuses to try to bilk agencies out of money to reach “long tail” sites and to have greater reach. It’s easier for them to tell agencies that they need to spend $100k per channel, per advertiser, than actually create or use a system that will allow anyone to access the inventory easily and then optimize easier.
With the current economic situation however, display networks are seeing agency money dry up and more and more display advertising going to places like Facebook. Even though the average media buyer in agencies love wasting money, there are enough savvy media buyers that demand change.
Display advertising MUST change, must adapt and become easily accessible to everyone.
Whoever creates a system that allows access to anyone to all inventory, from Facebook to RightMedia, to buy inventory and optimize it on the fly, will rule the display market and have a tool that anyone would want t o buy on.