Ad Network Gripes

Some of my latest ad network gripes...

  1. Remarkably stupid-sounding names - I know all the good domain names are taken, but can ad networks refrain from adopting monikers that sound like something Wham-O, Inc. rejected as a potential product name for the Frisbee?
  2. Not-so-thinly-veiled conflicts - Don't think that it escaped my notice that you have creative services, media planning and research in house.  You can call yourself an "ad network," but it's not likely going to throw me off the scent and make me stop thinking of you as "competition."
  3. Bragging about Uniques - Great.  You have 10 million unique users.  So does every other network.  In these days of non-exclusive inventory and ad-hoc networks, bragging about unique users is like bragging about owning a refrigerator.  While it's true that media planners need to understand they're not wasting their time talking to a network that can't deliver reach, networks ought not to turn presentations into a you-know-what wagging contests.
  4. Not Knowing How It Works - We want to know whether your geotargeting is based on IP addresses or registration information.  We want to know whether your behavioral targeting works based on actual identified behavior or on a lookalike basis.  We want to know how your contextual relevance engine makes decisions.  It's okay for us to be ignorant going into the meeting.  That's why we're asking you these questions.  It's not okay for you to be ignorant going into the meeting.
  5. "Borrowing" Clients - We love the "badge slides" in presentations that show all the great brands you consider to be "clients."  Let's get this straight, though.  If Life Savers tells its ad agency to buy some web advertising, and the agency turns around and buys 10 million impressions on an ad network, and that ad network sources some of its inventory from the Right Media exchange, and then some of that inventory comes from your network, that doesn't make Life Savers your "client."  We know that if we called the Life Savers brand manager and asked, she probably wouldn't know who you are.  (The same is probably true for their ad agency, for that matter.)
  6. Brand Protection via Elimination of Affiliates - We love it when ad networks give us a site list and then say "You can eliminate up to 20% of the affiliates that are objectionable to your brand."  Why 20%?  A piece of objectionable content can come from anywhere.  How about this?  I'm going to fill a water glass with highly radioactive Plutonium-239.  You can eliminate 20% of the radioactive material before you chug it.  Feel reassured?  Me neither.
  7. Abuse of the phrase "The leading [X]" - It's completely meaningless to be "leading" in a category where no one will admit to following.  "Leading" could mean you're tops in uniques, or it could mean you were the first in a particular category, or it could just mean that a bunch of people really, really like you.
  8. "We Need an NDA" - Please, people.  You're an ad network.  You're not protecting nuclear secrets.  You will not be irreparably harmed if an agency finds out that is a network affiliate.  You won't require injunctive relief if we find out that you're on Adify like everybody else.  And we're pretty sure we could have guessed that your "proprietary optimization technology" is a bunch of overcaffeinated Ukrainian college students looking at ad serving reports all day.
  9. "Can We Run a Test to See What Your Click-Through Would Be?" - Yes, but I likely won't pay for it.  Many of our clients couldn't care less what their CTR is and they're more interested in seeing the results from a brand perspective.
  10. Unwarranted Escalation - Yes, you can meet with the president of the company if you would rather do that than meet with the people making day-to-day decisions on which networks to buy.  That meeting will consist of us shaking hands and me saying, "You really should set up a meeting with the media supervisors who oversee the accounts you're interested in."