Vertical nets may be a better option than wide nets.
The biggest difficulty that agencies and advertisers have with online ad networks (see Who Loves Ad Networks?) is a lack of transparency about the sites within the network.
Vertical ad networks were created to help solve that problem.
In much the same way small stores use superior quality and a knowledge of their customers and community to compete with larger retailers, vertical ad networks compete with traditional ad networks by focusing on narrower content areas, such as music, sports or comedy.
So far, the strategy is working.
According to comScore, unique viewers of ads on vertical ad networks grew by 172% from March 2008 to March 2009.
That, in turn, is growing the reach of vertical ad networks. Vertical network ads were viewed by 57.1% of the total US Internet audience in March.
“Vertical ad networks are a growing phenomenon in the online advertising space,” said Lesle Litton of comScore, “in part because of their ability to deliver engaged, targeted audiences.”
Engagement with vertical ad networks may be up, too. Visitors to gaming, entertainment, community, news and health sites on vertical networks had engagement indexes well above average.
“As more vertical ad networks prove their ability to effectively reach specific target audiences by aggregating mid-tail publisher sites, the industry will likely give greater consideration to these emerging ad delivery channels,” said Ms. Litton.
Note: Index equals the time spent by category visitors reached by vertical ad networks divided by time spent by average category visitors, multiplied by 100. Index of 100 indicates average representation.
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