Mediaweek digital editor Mike Shields’ article in the April 5 issue prompted a letter from InterCLICK founder and president Michael Katz. Publishers quoted in the story responded.
First, we completely understand the negative opinions that are held toward ad networks as a whole. Many networks add little value other than arbitraging inventory which requires them to rely on dubious, and sometimes nefarious, tactics to stay in business.
However, we do think it is overly simplistic to view all networks in this light. A few of the top networks do add significant value, having invested millions of dollars and thousands of hours developing technology and operational expertise to bring differentiated products to the marketers. It is these companies that are driving innovation and, as shown by the recent NAI report, fighting the falling ad rates for all parties in the digital ecosystem.
interCLICK respects the direct sales efforts of all of our partners and works hard to avoid conflicts. We allow publishers to control which advertisers run on their inventory, either through the exchange they run, directly through our ad platform, or through our publisher services team. Furthermore, since one of our core value propositions is transparency, interCLICK does not represent a direct relationship with a publisher, or any vendor for that matter, that does not exist. On our behalf, Matthew Greitzer, vp of search marketing at Razorfish, also confirmed, “Bloomberg, NY Times, WSJ are all available through AdSense and the DoubleClick exchange. Anyone with an AdSense login can buy these guys through Google Site Targeting.”
At interCLICK, we have gone as far as training agencies on the inventory supply chain (exchanges, yield optimizers, etc.) and how we leverage them for our clients. More importantly, interCLICK offers audience solutions, not media placements to our marketers.
We do not allow advertisers to buy individual sites or even a handful of select sites; they can only approve of the sites where we will look for the target audiences.
Unfortunately, there remains a lot of confusion as to how the latest technology is actually being adopted by marketers, creating the false impression that publishers and ad networks are competing against each other in a zero-sum game. The promise of auction-based inventory systems is that data will bring about higher ad rates for more valuable audiences, which ultimately benefits the publishers. We believe this is indeed the case; however, this requires that the buyers in the systems need to be technologically savvy, with the platforms and expertise to properly collect and evaluate the information required to effectively compete in these marketplaces. Currently, the organizations investing in these platforms and building the expertise are the ad networks. Not all of them, but certainly a select few.
We think that the promise of digital advertising is very bright. It will be driven by the efficiency
and accountability afforded by technical innovation, much of which a select few ad networks like interCLICK are bringing to the marketplace.
Finally I have provided URLs to screen shots of those sites available in the Google AdX.
—Michael Katz, president and founder of interCLICK
TheStreet does not work with exchanges or networks. Period. Nevertheless, an agency partner brought to our attention a presentation deck in which interCLICK represented that it could sell inventory on our site.
Further and more alarming, we have seen evidence of a falsified campaign report issued by interCLICK to an agency client, in which interClick falsely represented that inventory on our site had been used in a campaign. After our counsel demanded that interCLICK cease and desist from false representations involving TheStreet, interClick responded in writing that it is not claiming, and will not claim, that TheStreet.com is within the network of sites on which interClick places advertising.
We believe that interCLICK’s behavior has been unethical and damaging both to our brands and the reputations of the agencies which unwittingly buy mislabeled inventory through interCLICK’s network. We have run into these issues with other networks as well. Moreover, we believe that many other publishers have faced these issues. We believe there may be widespread unethical behavior in this segment of the industry, which a public airing may help to remedy.
We thank Mediaweek for helping draw attention to this problem and hope that by bringing this ongoing issue to light, interCLICK and other exchanges and networks will instill a higher level of self-discipline and business ethics.
—Thomas O’Regan, svp, advertising sales, TheStreet.com
To clarify how NYTimes.com inventory is available in the Google exchange, the Times has chosen Google AdSense as its provider of indirect inventory monetization. As an AdSense publisher, the Times has the ability to block by advertiser URL or choose not to allow Google Certified Ad Networks. We currently block about 3,000 companies (effectively all large online advertisers), allowing Google to fill the inventory exclusively with small, long-tail marketers.
Based on the current settings, The New York Times does not allow any Google Certified Ad Networks (or AdX Buyers) to transact on New York Times inventory. In other words, The New York Times inventory is not available on the AdExchange. It is, however, viewable as a site within the placement tool.
In summary, based upon the technology that Google offers on their platforms, as well as decisions made by NYTimes.com in how our inventory is made available, it is impossible for an ad network to deliver any impressions. Any assertion otherwise is incorrect.
—Todd Haskell, vp advertising, digital sales & operations, The New York Times
We stand by our comments in the article. Bloomberg does not deal with any display ad exchanges or networks; the only way to purchase display ad inventory on Bloomberg.com is via Bloomberg’s own sales team. The fact that Bloomberg is listed on Google refers only to the Sponsored Links which Google sells on our and many other sites.
—Trevor Fellows, head of global media sales, Bloomberg
While we do periodically test ad exchanges, we would never knowingly allow an ad network to buy Wall Street Journal Digital Network inventory via that channel, and any suggestion to the contrary is inaccurate.
—Brian Quinn, vp, advertising sales and marketing, The Wall Street Journal Online