The Resurgence of Ad Networks: Why it’s Happening and What it Means for Advertisers

Ahead of ATS Singapore, Travis Teo, executive director & co-founder of Adzymic, analyses the revival of ad networks. In this exclusive byline, Teo discusses what has led to this resurgence and what it could mean for the ad tech industry.

As we manoeuvre through an advertising landscape troubled by low-quality 'made for advertising' websites and the diminishing role of cookies, ad networks are the new comeback kids, characterised by a range of quality and innovative strategies. But how can they best help advertisers reach audiences? And how can marketers utilise them to achieve their goals?

Quality assurance amidst sub-par advertising environments

Travis Teo, executive director & co-founder, Adzymic

A recent study by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) in the US found that one in five online ad impressions run on made-for-advertising sites. It’s a well known fact that the open web is filled with poor-quality ad-cluttered websites whose sole purpose is to garner maximum ad revenue. The ease of content generation using Generative AI only exacerbates this issue. The study also reminds advertisers of the old adage – you get what you give. Low CPM rates are likely to attract low quality impressions. 

One way to manage this is to seek out ad networks that implement stringent quality control measures to curate quality publishers. By establishing alliances with respectable publishers, they are shaping spaces where users can interact with ads without the intrusion of low-quality content, fostering a trust-orientated advertising environment.

Harnessing contextual relevance

The phasing out of cookies has accelerated a significant shift in advertising strategies. Contextual relevance has re-emerged as a powerful tool in the modern advertiser's arsenal. It goes beyond mere keyword targeting, delving into the nuanced analysis of web page content to align ads with the thematic essence of the surrounding content. This harmony elevates user experience, encourages engagements and drives brand affinity.

High-impact formats: a canvas for creativity

Selected ad networks offer advertising inventory beyond the standard IAB formats. Through direct integration into publisher inventory, these ad networks offer high-impact formats such as skinners, full-page takeovers, and immersive mobile scrollers that stand out from run-of-the-mill banner spots. Such executions offer advertisers rich opportunities to weave in more compelling brand narratives, ultimately leading to higher quality interactions between the brand and the audience.

Measuring success through attention metrics

Success in leveraging high-impact formats is intrinsically linked to understanding and analysing user engagement. Employing metrics such as viewability, interaction rates, and time spent on ads can offer invaluable insights, helping advertisers refine their strategies to foster better engagement and drive successful campaigns.

Retail Media Networks: the new frontier

The burgeoning collaborations between ad networks and e-commerce behemoths are unlocking prime advertising spaces where brands can connect with consumers at crucial moments in their shopping journeys. By pinpointing these pivotal touchpoints, advertisers can develop strategies that sync with consumers' purchase intentions and allow closed-loop measurements.

Navigating the potential pitfalls

Even as ad networks stride towards quality, challenges remain. Advertisers sometimes find themselves grappling with limited transparency over ad placements. The inherent risk here is the potential misalignment between the ad content and the publisher's space. It’s therefore imperative for advertisers to seek networks that allow third-party tracking, offering transparency where ads are displayed.

In addition, many SSPs offer curated solutions for ad tech companies to work with publishers by setting up private deals without having to deal with the complications of integration. This scalability enables ad tech companies within the ecosystem to effectively set up their own ad network without the complexity of integrating different publishers' supplies. However, one of the drawbacks is that it allows players to simply curate inventory from the open exchange, add markups and superficially package themselves as a premium network. Thus, it is important for advertisers to discern how curated inventory has been sourced and how value has been added by ad tech.

What next for ad networks?

We stand at a juncture where the ad network landscape is being reshaped, characterised by a vigorous pursuit of quality and innovation. Armed with the insights and strategies delineated here, advertisers can navigate this transformative period with foresight and agility. By being conscious of potential pitfalls and leveraging the burgeoning opportunities with a strategic mindset, advertisers can sculpt campaigns that are not only successful but resonate with authenticity and ethical grounding in the rejuvenated ad network landscape.

Want to hear more from Adzymic and a wealth of other experts in ad tech? Secure your place at ATS Singapore 2023 today.