The Ad Network Business: Not Doing So Bad, After All?

Remember that news about a slump in online ad networks? Bogus, says Frank Addante, CEO of The Rubicon Project. He says ad rates are up 20% in the last two months among the biggest players.

Who is Addante, and why should we listen to him? His company operates the equivalent of a trading desk for publishers and ad networks. Publishers allocate their ad inventory to Rubicon, which manages the relationships with the ad networks, shifting dollars between networks to get the best ad rate. So Rubicon can see all the rates being paid for impressions on the top 154 networks, including biggies like, AdBrite, BlueLithium, Google AdSense, etc.

Addante says new vertical networks organised around a specific target audiences are getting a higher CPM, and bigger brand advertisers are starting to use networks more. Also, he says international sales are growing fast.

Last month PubMatic told us that overall CPMs for Web publishers had fallen 23% between March and April. Like Rubicon, PubMatic also manages/optimizes ad networks for publishers. So which one is right? It’s possible that both are, because they’re looking at different data sets. Pubmatic was looking at rates across 3,000 publishers. Rubicon is also looking at thousands of publishers, but only the inventory placed on the top 150 or so ad networks. Anyone else want to hazard a guess? We’re all ears.

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