Rival Ad Networks Are Teaming Up To Take On Google

Microsoft and WPP’s 24/7 Media signed a deal this morning where Microsoft’s advertisers can now buy space on 24/7’s network.

The deal helps Microsoft expand the amount of inventory available to its advertisers, and helps 24/7 get new customers into its system. This suggests that both companies are trying to fill gaps — Microsoft may not be generating enough display inventory (page views) through MSN and its network of partners, while 24/7 may be seeing some slack demand.

The ad network market is fragmented, with a lot of relatively big players. But Google has been way out ahead for at least the last year, which gives a strong incentive for these other players to cooperate. (See chart).

Earlier this year, Microsoft, AOL, and Yahoo started sharing remnant inventory so it could be sold on one another’s ad networks. With the new 24/7 deal, tha means that the #2 (AOL), #3 (Yahoo), #5 (24/7), and #8 (Microsoft) ad networks are allied.

Look for more alliances in the coming year.

U.S. ad networks by reach, March 2012 vs March 2011

Photo: ComScore

*AT&T AdWorks was not measured by ComScore in March 2011.

**ContextWeb was acquired by Datran Media in Sept. 2011 and the ad network changed its name to PulsePoint.

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