Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Are Ad Networks Coming Back? And Is That Good for Web Publishers?

tunnelWhen will the online ad market finally start bouncing back? We’ve yet to see it in Q2 earnings reports from the likes of Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO).

But one observer says it’s already here: Ad optimization firm PubMatic reports that prices for ad network inventory it sees have increased 35 percent since the beginning of the year.

The firm’s data make for a hopeful chart (click to enlarge):

pubmatic-ad-pricing

But these numbers could be less meaningful than they look. The most important thing to keep in mind here is that Pubmatic is only tracking prices for ad-network inventory. And if low-priced ad networks are taking market share from display ads, as is likely the case, then these numbers won’t do much good for  publishers–perhaps like the very one producing this site–who specialize in big, premium ad buys.

And the other obvious point to make here is that Pubmatic’s data are only about pricing, not volume, so they don’t really tell us whether advertisers are spending more, or less, than they used to.

But for what it’s worth, I made my own informal channel-check with two big publishers who do specialize in branded ads yesterday, and they told me things had picked up recently, as well: They differed on the degree of enthusiasm for the remainder of the year, but both cited demand from entertainment advertisers, as well as for advertisers of consumer packaged goods.

So maybe Pubmatic’s numbers are at least directionally accurate. That’d be nice, right?


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald