It’s intriguing that technology giants — and not ad networks — are increasingly making the big plays in online advertising. Click on some recent global developments:
Microsoft Corp. plans to buy Web ad analysis firm Rapt Inc., thus filling a gap in the array of tools it offers online publishers
and advertisers. Rapt’s software and consulting services will help website publishers in packaging and pricing display ad space. Its programs should add to the Web publisher tools Microsoft got when it acquired digital marketing services agency aQuantive.
Google Inc.’s acquisition of Web ad serving network DoubleClick Inc. (DC) makes it the leading display ad platform. It was officially sealed recently and will enable agencies, advertisers and publishers to collaborate more efficiently in the display ad space, since DC has relationships with many online publishers and online ad agencies. Google also recently added an ad service called Ad Manager to help small to mid-size publishers manage and optimize ads they sell themselves and those in the Google AdSense network.
In a bid to grow its online ad business and reach a younger net audience, AOL Llc. plans to buy social networking site Bebo for $850 million (Rs3,400 crore). The deal is about finding better ways to connect content owners, users and advertisers. AOL already has Outsearch, a service of its Advertising.com network that helps search marketers in keyword optimization. It is also rolling out a combined search offering, which could be used by directories firms to help in the distribution of local advertiser listings.
However, ad networks are hardly Luddites. Ad Age DataCenter estimates that digital services in 2007 accounted for 12.3%, or $4.7 billion, of worldwide revenue for the leading communications holding companies of Omnicom Group, WPP Group, Interpublic Group and Publicis Groupe. Publicis bought digital marketing agency Digitas; Omnicom acquired digital agencies Agency.com and Organic Inc. And WPP Group has Web advertising network 24/7 Real Media. There’s big bucks to be won in this digital race: Publicis’ ZenithOptimedia pegs 2008 world Internet ad spending at a 9.4% share of global media spends.
Still, ad networks will have to ramp up digital capabilities to protect their digital ad revenues. The future, however, belongs to digital collaboration among agencies, Web publishers, digital and other specialists, and advertisers. Ask Publicis, which has spoken about co-operating with Google. Beyond the razzmatazz and real benefits of rich media, Web advertising — such as offline advertising — will have to stick to telling the brand story coherently and engagingly.
Marion Arathoon is Mint’s advertising editor. Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org