Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Monday, February 19, 2007

Create Your Own Online Advertising Network - A Mini-Guide

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The time has come for the evolution of an advertising platform, "giving entrepreneurs, advertisers and publishers of all sizes the infrastructure and tools for creating customized online advertising networks".

Photo credit: Xlucas

With these new distributed advertising platforms, "network builders can define, assemble, merchandise and manage new, highly-targeted advertising networks within weeks, incurring little or no upfront cost." In turn, the companies providing such services to online publishers and advertisers do handle "all of the campaign management, performance tracking, reporting, billing, payment and technical support functions needed [to run] for successful advertising campaigns."
(Source: Adify Press Release)

The ability to create your own advertising network is now indeed a reality. By bringing a series of content-connected blogs together into a single, vertical, "thematic" network, you have the opportunity of strengthening your authority and value by aggregating related high quality sources while maximizing potential revenue for you as well as for those you have invited to join the new network party.

Tightly-focused , high quality, niche content remains the key ingredient to any successful and profitable blog or news site. But as niches are little islands focusing on very specific aspects of a larger whole, the ability to identify and bring together closely related content sources to create "thematic" mini-networks is the next natural evolutionary step for online publishers of all sizes.

On the other hand, "thematic" micro networks can provide significant additional value to the advertiser, as they offer a quality selection of related content sources targeting a well-defined demographic. Something which would be very hard to put together by the advertiser himself, who is not familiar with all the content sources in the specific field and who would have a hard time distinguishing the good from the bad ones and allowing them to spread their ads across a breadth of sites while still retaining a focused target audience.

Everyone is a winner.

"In the offline world, hundreds of special interest, editorial driven magazines offer advertisers clear, focused content-targeted demographics. The Internet is poised to break free from the one-size-fits-all network model and deliver the same level of segmentation to advertisers..."
(Source: Adify Press Release)

You, as an "ad network" builder, are in the best position to assemble publishers and deliver value to advertisers" while the newly emerging ad network services can provide all the tools and services to manage every step required by such ambitions - "from inventory management and pricing to ad serving and reporting - giving network builders a turnkey platform for developing a sustainable, long-term advertising model."

Bloggers and small independent online publishers can further find an opportunity for extended growth in building their own advertising network. Think of it. By creating a "thematic", niche network, small publishers can offer new opportunities to those smaller bloggers or less fortunate news sites which have not yet been able to effectively monetize their sites in a way that makes them sustainable. Instead of seeing them as enemies or competitors, you can now make these sites into your very best allies.

Let's say you run a successful blog about web marketing, and you're doing pretty well from it. The revenues are coming in nicely, you have good traffic and an impressive amount of subscribers. The next step in expanding what you do is to create your own advertising network by enlisting other marketing blogs you like and esteem. In other words, you create a vertical, "thematic" network - exclusively focusing on web marketing and start mediating and brokering the sale of ads not just on your site, but on the whole network you have yourself defined.

By virtue of your own knowledge of the field, and your ability to identify talented, quality sources that are related to yours, the network of marketing sites you can pull together has huge value to potential advertisers who want to talk to the type of readers you address. Imagine the effort, resources and times needed by each such advertiser when they have to find by themselves key sites and outlets that perfectly matched their desired audience demographics.

So how do you go about setting up this network - and providing a marketplace for potential advertisers?

In this mini-guide to creating your own ad network, I talk you through the current few alternatives, adding more as they will become available.

[If you know other similar services, please consider sharing your own findings in the comments section, at the end of this very article.]

Adify Build Your Own Network (BYON)


In a nutshell

Adify has provided the chance to create your own advertising marketplace Since November 2006. Reviewed not long ago on these very pages, Adify had been focusing essentially on providing bloggers and small independent publishers with the means to create their own self-service advertising solution. Premiered by Blogads, self-service ad solutions provide the means for an online publisher to place a simple piece of code on their web pages, which facilitates potential advertisers to buy ad space directly on your site.

Now, with the launch of the new "Build Your Own Network" feature (BYON), Adify is the first online advertising clearinghouse allowing small and medium-sized publishers to define and create their own "thematic" advertising network.

Like Adify's non-networked service, BYON ultimately simplifies the process of selling a range of advertising options to interested advertisers. The difference is that instead of buying ad-space on a single blog or website, advertisers have the option of buying advertising that plays out across a vertical network of tightly focused websites.

These networks are entirely user-created, rather than put together by Adify, so the final say as to which blogs and networks are gathered under your banner is entirely up to you.

Revenue model

Adify gives the means to advertising network "managers" to select the billing model for the ads to be sold on the network (CPM or CPC). Adify then keeps 20% of your total monthly revenue to pay for its infrastructure and for the other management and reporting services it provides to you.

As an Adify network coordinator you benefit directly by receiving a slice of the whole advertising network revenue pie, and while doing good to your network partners who now get better exposure, visibility and advertising customers they would have never dreamed of you also expand the reach and interest that your content can offer to your existing audience.

Advantages over other networks

  • Total control of the advertising units you offer on your network
  • A large cut of the profits made from the advertising purchased through the service (80% to you)
  • Great customization options - the ability to choose the colour scheme and add your own branding to your network marketplace

Possible downsides

  • Your success will depend upon your own efforts - if you don't sell your ad-space, nobody else is going to do it for you
  • As a relatively new service there may still be the occasional teething problems

Key features

Key to Adify BYON is the degree of control you have as a network coordinator over the entire network management process. The overall BYON interface is very straightforward, and easy to use. Setting up an ad network can literally take only a matter of minutes. As a network manager you also have the option to:

  • Brand and personalize the look and feel of your network store-front
  • Add from a vast selection of useful, relevant widgets that will feature on your store-front webpage
  • Categorize your network so that advertisers and other bloggers can easily find your network

Examples of existing networks

Several online publishers are already using the Adify BYON service to maintain their advertising networks. You can take a look at the following examples to get an idea:

Find out more

You can find out more about Adify BYON at the Adify blog, and more about the specific services it offers on their homepage.

Get involved

If you want to get involved in setting up your own advertising network, you will first need to join Adify.

You can also request further information by using the following publisher enquiry form.

Feedburner Networks and Feedburner Ad Network (FAN)


In a nutshell

Feedburner Networks is currently in limited beta, and is currently only available to Feedburner registered users. In and of itself, Feedburner Networks, is not an advertising network, but rather an opportunity to create vertical "thematic" networks of niche content.

However, when you have access to Feedburner Networks, your application to become part of the coveted Feedburner Ad Network (FAN) is apparently fast-tracked, giving you access to an already established means of securing advertising for your blog, and indeed for your extended network too.

While this doesn't give you the same freedom as Adify BYON to customize and tinker with what you can offer to your advertisers, it does have the advantage of providing a ready-to-go network that can start bringing advertising in for you with a minimum of effort on your part.

Revenue model

Your network CPM is calculated by Feedburner, who ''manually optimize pricing based on network performance and market demand''. All accounts begin with a flat rate of $3 CPM and are adjusted accordingly over time.

Network coordinators do not receive any commission or extra pay incentives, but might expect to benefit from the increased traffic that participating in a content network provides.

Advantages over other networks

  • Feedburner is a well established brand in the blogosphere with a thousands of blogs to aggregate into successful networks
  • As Feedburner name implies, it is all about feeds - as such, the possibilities for RSS feed marketing are in its favour, as blog readers increasingly use RSS news aggregators to access content
  • Feedburner does the work for you in terms of finding potential advertisers for your site

Possible downsides

  • The degree of control over the advertising for your network seems limited
  • Technically you are not given the chance to create your own ad network, but rather to create a network that is then given access to Feedburner advertising network
  • You need to have at least 500 Feedburner subscribers to be considered eligible

Key features

Feedburner Network's strengths are primarily in creating vertical networks of content that have been hand-picked by those participating, rather than 'from above'. Advertising is, at this stage, still somewhat of an afterthought, though Feedburner appears to be working hard in securing high-quality brand advertisers for its network members.

Among the most significant features of Feedburner Networks are:

  • The ability to create strong vertical communities from a vast repository of blogs
  • The ability to create focused news radars (spliced feeds) of content of all blogs within the network, thus drawing attention to the individuals within the network, and allowing readers access to targeted, relevant content from one, high-quality "thematic" feed
  • The ability to take advantage of these aggregated feeds to earn advertising revenue for all involved

Examples of existing networks

You can check out some of the existing networks using Feedburner Networks by visiting the links below:

Find out more

To find out more about Feedburner Networks you can visit the Feedburner Networks FAQ, and the Network coordinator FAQ.

Get involved

If you want to get involved with Feedburner Networks, you will first need to join Feedburner, where the option will then become available to you should you meet the minimum requirements for inclusion (500 subscribers, subject to change as the service comes out of beta).

Additional resources

If you would like to learn more about creating your own ad network, you might want to take a look at the following links:

Originally written by Michael Pick - Edited by for Master New Media and titled:
Online Advertising Networks - A Mini-Guide

Michael Pick and Robin Good -
Readers' Comments    
2007-02-19 09:17:51


Really great post!

We should see more and more of these vertical niche networks coming up everyday. The amount of revenue driven through networks such as JumpStart, TravelAdNet, and Glam alone would suggest a big shift in the market towards these niche/transparent networks.

If you think about the amount of money coming online through the big brands, and the need for agencies to find really focused and high quality options, you can see where the opportunity is created.

One point of clarification, Adify will help you sell your network if you would like. Adify has a pretty large national/international media sales team that will help you sell your network available inventory, at your prices, while you (and your network sites) retain full control to accept or reject any advertiser. The Adify team focuses on large Fortune 500 and Global 1,000 advertisers that are looking to buy high quality brand building advertising opportunities.

Adify enables the network owner to sell within their category (endemic), while the Adify team will support selling to large non-endemic brands/agencies. This service, brought to the table by Adify, is optional, but can help smaller network owners to accelerate the growth of their network, while giving them time to focus on the high value/high CPM category advertisers.

The set-up really solves the chicken and egg problem that can come with starting any network.

posted by Michael Pick on Monday, February 19 2007, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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