Disney’s (DIS) SoapNet probably won’t be the last troubled Web site to try to save itself by building an ad network, but it’s clear a shakeout is coming. But the vast majority of these so-called networks won’t have enough scale in their niche to compete on sheer numbers, or enough quality inventory to attract advertisers willing to pay a premium.
The WSJ notes traffic to SoapNet and ABC Daytime cratered in March, down 24% to 1.2 million unique visitors in March, according to comScore. SoapNet’s gambit: Try to double its reach by rolling up another 45 sites, such as BeautifulStranger.TV and Stylehive.com, and selling them as a group.
The problem: The WSJ estimates there are 300 ad networks out there, but only a slice of the top-10 in scale and then the leaders in various niches. More to the point: the women’s ad network space is already crowded with networks such as Glam Media, NBC’s iVillage-based “virtual women’s network,” Viacom’s ParentsConnect, and even CondeNet. Ad buyers say the the last thing they need is another network to come calling.
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