Vertical Ad Networks Are Different Side of Same Rusty Coin Says CEO Koretz of BlueTie and Adventive

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David Koretz of BlueTie and AdventiveDavid Koretz is CEO of BlueTie, Inc., an email and collaboration services provider and Adventive, Inc., an online ad solutions company.

What media-related trends have you observed in 2009 at BlueTie and at Adventive? Vertical strengths/weaknesses, pricing pressure, etc.?

At Adventive we are seeing large publishers put an increased emphasis on creating unique products for their advertisers that differentiate them from both the ad networks and the other large publishers. Not everyone is going to survive this economic downturn, and as the recession lingers on, publishers are starting to take the gloves off.

Following up on your theme from "Eight Things I Hate About You" in MediaPost in March, what would you advise publishers to do this year - paraphrasing your words - to innovate their product and help advertisers measure success? Is Adventive a step in this direction?

Publishers need to move beyond the banner ad. They need to think of themselves as having two distinct products: one for readers, and the other for advertisers. Publishers would be well served to spend their energy building unique products like site take-overs, sponsorships, and ROI-driven ads that help align them with the goals of their advertisers. Adventive is hyper-focused on innovating both the ad units and the optimization of ads to deliver ROI to advertisers. We hope to be a part of every premium publisher's arsenal.

In your opinion, does the ad exchange model and automated media trading hold promise for publishers?

Any time you have another entity with a different set of goals competing against the publishers own sales force, you are in a race to the bottom. I do not believe the current tension between ad networks and publishers is sustainable.

Advertisers appear to be moving toward targeting audience and addressable media rather than concerns about placement. Agree? How does Adventive assist advertisers looking to target audience?

I think advertisers are looking for customers, not audience. Audience is not a solution, but rather a means to an end. Adventive uses many forms of targeting including demographic, audience-based, behavioral, and some proprietary forms to optimize the advertising campaign to maximize ROI.

Can brand awareness marketers use Adventive effectively or is it more DR-focused?

No advertiser is only a brand advertiser. Every marketer is ultimately going to be measured on their ability to move the business forward. A lot of people refer to brand advertising when they really mean influence advertising. Products with long sales cycles, or products where you need to change consumer behavior like CPG need influence advertising. They need to move the prospect closer to becoming a customer. Adventive helps both influence and DR-focused advertisers to be more influential and move the ball forward.

What do you think of vertical ad networks? Given the decline in standard display CPMs, is building out this model worth it for publishers?

Vertical ad networks are just a different side of the same rusty coin. Any time a publisher makes a conscientious decision to pool their advertising, they are making the implicit statement that they do not value their own product as being unique. That is a very dangerous road.

Any thoughts on impression-level, real-time bidding (RTB)? Could RTB help publishers realize better CPMs for its standard IAB display if there is adequate liquidity?

RTB has no chance of real traction so long as the supply greatly outstrips demand. Publishers would be better served by focusing on differentiating their offering.

For large media publishers, is the Long Tail an opportunity or threat? If it's an opportunity, how should big media leverage the Long Tail?

The long tail is very long, but very insignificant if you look at the numbers. The top 100 publishers capture 91% of every online ad dollar, and the top 3,000 publishers represent 80% of the spend. I would recommend that large publishers do not waste their time fighting over scraps.

Do you see a threat to the agency model from the ad networks? What would you be doing to bulletproof your future if you were an agency?

I think the agency model will always have its place. As long as there are marketers competing for attention, there needs to be great agencies that help their clients stand out from the noise. The future of online advertising seems to be shifting increasingly toward a DR-centric view, but that does not make agencies any less relevant. Publishers will realize that they will earn more if they view DR as an opportunity and take control of the optimization of the ads. This shift is only going to further put pressure on agencies to deliver ads that perform.

What do you think will be the key issues that industry organizations such as the OPA, MPA and IAB will need to drive on in the future on behalf of publishers?

I have yet to see an industry association drive an industry forward; companies competing for real dollars do that. The IAB and OPA have their place, but publishers themselves and their partner ecosystem will lead the next wave of innovation.

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