May 12, 2009, 12:00 AM

Be it branding or direct marketing most web advertisers use ad networks

Collective Media’s survey finds 96% of marketers and ad agencies surveyed use ad networks to place display ads.

Web marketers are increasing their use of ad networks for online display advertising focused on branding, with 23% saying they use networks for brand advertising in 2009, up significantly from 6% in 2007, according to the third annual Ad Networks Survey from ad network and advertising technology provider Collective Media. That corresponds with a decrease in those who employ ad networks exclusively for direct marketing during that time-down to 20% of respondents this year from 41% in 2007.

The report notes these trends should continue as more brand advertisers employ ad networks in their media buying plans. Over the past three years, according to the study, the number of advertisers and ad agencies using ad networks for both branding and direct marketing increased to 54% in 2009 from 40% in 2007. Overall, 96% of those surveyed work with ad networks in 2009, for branding alone, for direct marketing alone, or both.

Ad networks’ ability to target consumers is a major reason the use of ad networks has increased, according to the report. 61% of those responding said they use ad networks for their targeting ability in 2009, a leap from the 36% in 2007. Demographic targeting was the most common targeting method in 2009, cited by 72% of those responding, followed by behavioral targeting, used by 69%, and contextual and geographic targeting, each used by 60% of those responding.

Portals, cited by 75%, and specific publishers, cited by 60%, were the most commonly cited alternatives to ad networks, followed by paid search, cited by 47%. Affiliate networks were cited as an alternative to ad networks by 16% in 2009 and ad exchanges grew to 12% in 2009 versus 4% in 2008. Ad exchanges are a newer, self-administered online ad distribution model in which advertisers and their agencies bid on what they’ll pay per thousand impressions to serve ads on publisher sites grouped by audience segment.

The survey, conducted by Sterling Research Group for Collective Media, is based on responses from 417 advertisers, advertising agencies and online publishers holding ad inventory.

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