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How do we solve the vexing problem of online advertiser and audience fragmentation? Why, the network, of course. Aside from a few big names, very few sites today have the quality and reach that advertisers want. (In many cases they would just settle for low volume, high quality.) This is another angle on the "inventory problem" discussion.

A case in point: I had a conversation with Gabriel Gross, CEO of RealBird, which provides maps and data to third-party real estate sites. He would like to provide advertisers access to his maps, but there's lots of pain in trying to reach the advertisers that might really want to be there. And there are plenty of advertisers that would indeed want to access the 2.5 million monthly, highly (geo)targeted consumers his mapping tools reach.

What's the solution? A network that would allow advertisers access to inventory on or around his maps. But that network doesn't yet exist. Creating networks that bring together the millions of sites out there that might not themselves have lots of traffic but in the aggregate could offer both reach and quality is one answer to the inventory problem.

But who will build that network and when?

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. I know guys like Dave Morgan at Tacoda Systems are trying very hard to build multisite networks based on ad-delivery and behavior-targeting software.

    All the usual caveats and complaints apply to this and most other network attempts: lack of standards, loss of local (or vertical) publisher control, network's taking too big a slice, publisher's taking too big a slice, wide variance in performance, too hard for advertisers to understand, too hard for account executives to understand.

    If manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers can figure out complex distribution logistics for everything from packaged bacon to Hummers, why is it so hard for online publishers to figure out distribution logistics for a few bits and bytes?

  2. That is not it. FM is a small, "quality" network (chiefly about blogs at this point). I'm talking about something larger — a "meta network" that publishers (or smaller networks themselves) can opt into and that would allow marketers to get access to more sites than they can now.

    What we have now is two major networks, Google and Yahoo, and Balkanization in the rest of the online world. There are people talking about and working on this to varying degrees, but it doesn't exist yet.

    This starts to approach what I'm describing in local:

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