Collective Media: Spending With Ad Networks Up in ’09

Despite all the debate raging over whether ad networks represent a danger to the online advertising and publishing businesses, a new survey indicates that more marketers are likely to increase their spending in the the embattled sector–though the survey was commissioned by one of the up and coming players in the space.

In its third annual study of the online ad network market, Collective Media found that among top online media decision makers, 89 percent said they planned to spend dollars with ad networks in 2009, up five percentage points from last year.

Collective, one of several companies claiming to have built an ad network specializing in premium inventory geared for traditional brands, tapped the marketing research firm Sterling Research Group, Inc. to survey nearly 500 online media executives between February and March of this year to compile its report.

Among Sterling’s other findings: more than half of those surveyed said they planned to allocate 15 percent of their Web ad budgets to networks, while nearly a quarter (24 percent) planned to spend 30 percent of their dollars with networks.

Perhaps not surprising, given the proliferation of me-too ad networks, was the complaint among respondents that there were simply too many of these companies (71 percent said so).  And that in this era of tightening ad budgets, most (70 percent) said they planned to limit their spending to just one or two networks.

More surprising was the number of respondents (over 50 percent) who claimed they used ad networks for both branding and direct response–given the ad network business’ lingering reputation as a tactic best suited for hard core direct response advertisers.

While ad networks fared when in Collective’s research, their close cousin–ad exchanges–did not. The vast majority of those surveyed (85 percent) said they do not currently work with exchanges, and just seven percent predicted that exchanges would ultimately replace ad networks.

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