Since there are millions of Web sites available for online advertising, one of the most convenient and efficient ways to purchase ads is to use an ad network, which sells advertising on behalf of hundreds or thousands of participating Web sites.
Ad networks serve as a single point of contact for many sites. This saves you the time it would take to contact 20-30 Web sites individually. Ad networks provide a single invoice for all Web sites you select for advertising. They provide standardized reporting to compare the performance of individual sites, and they standardize the ad units.
There are three types of advertising networks: representative networks, blind networks and targeted networks.
- Representative networks — These are ad networks that represent specific Web sites. Advertisers select sites they want to advertise on from the network's portfolio and pay specified market rates.
- Blind networks — Blind networks buy remnant (unsold) inventory in volume from Web sites and offer low pricing to advertisers. Since the Web sites offered by the network will vary based on inventory and demand, potential customers are targeted by demographic characteristics across many Web sites. In exchange for lower costs, advertisers relinquish control over where their ads run.
- Targeted networks — Targeted networks are evolved blind networks than incorporate user behavior into their ad server technology. This allows them to target potential customers across their entire network based on behavioral triggers. For example, if a customer has visited a Web site related to your industry, the network can continue displaying your ads to the same user — even when they visit unrelated Web sites.
When selecting a network, consider the quality of Web sites a network represents and the quality of ads that appear on the network from other advertisers. You should also consider the type of ads supported by the network. Ensure you have the appropriate text ads, display ads and rich media ads for the given network.