For One Ad Net, Web Isn’t Enough

While all the action in media and advertising often appears to be on the digital side, it remains a fact of life that most of the spending is in traditional channels. While that’s changing, it might not change fast enough for some digital players.
In response, one Web ad network is making a counterintuitive move: it’s betting a big part of its future growth lies not with Internet ads but traditional placements in magazines and TV.
“It’s unrealistic to think digital is the only thing,” said Robert Tas, CEO of Sportgenic. “[Advertisers] are spending their money in other areas.”
Sportgenic is a network for advertisers seeking to reach sports enthusiasts on sites like, and The audience, while highly sought after by advertisers, is relatively small. Rather than expand beyond sports, Sportgenic is adding the ability for its advertisers to run placements in traditional media, pairing a slate of Web ads on running sites, for instance, with a print campaign in Runner’s World.
The company hopes the expansion into offline media will differentiate it in a crowded marketplace for networks. There are by some estimates over 400 Web ad networks, including a growing set of vertical networks that concentrate on niche areas.
“We need to be scalable to be a competitor with ESPN,” Tas said.
To do so, Sportgenic is rolling out a Web platform it calls Torque to let agencies plan, run and measure integrated campaigns that reach sports fans through online, TV, print, radio and events. It culls data on the audience and reach of each platform from several sources to give planners tools to create campaigns. Offline partners include the Ironman, Tour de France and Golf Week.
For an advertiser interested in reaching high-income golfers, Sportgenic couldn’t recommend only a Web ad buy, Tas said, since the demographic trends older and can be found more easily elsewhere.
“The money is already going there, so why not make it more efficient?” he said.
In a way, Sportgenic is trying to do on a smaller scale what Google has tried for all media: build a Web-based platform for targeting spots across several forms of media. Google’s met with mixed success: it was forced to backtrack on its efforts to sell radio and print ads. Sportgenic hopes its vertical focus means it won’t meet the same fate.
“We’re not trying to boil the ocean,” said Tas.