Panel: Be Conservative, But Not Bashful, With Ad Networks

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CHICAGO -- As the number of ad networks rises and targeting technology expands, how can companies choose which network is best for their objectives?

This question was addressed by a panel of advertisers yesterday at ad:tech Chicago. The consensus was that communication and visibility are crucial in giving advertisers the control they want with ad serving through networks.

"Don't be bashful about asking for what you want [from ad networks]," said David Jones, marketing manager of Kaiser Permanente. "And if somebody says 'no,' take your checkbook elsewhere."

Mr. Jones said that Kaiser had developed very specific requirements for ad networks after being unhappy with where its ads were being served three months ago. The company reduced online ad spend, despite relying heavily on direct marketing, to ensure positive brand image and avoid appearing on sites that did not match internal goals.

"It is safest and more conservative to work with older, reputable brands," said Renee Soulliard, senior vice president of 1-800-Flowers.com.

1-800-Flowers treats the ad networks it works with like partners, sharing information about clients and internal goals in order to get the best response. Ms. Soulliard said that though the company changes its CPA bid based on season, it never completely turns off a campaign, so as not to lose the tracking history and return rate data each network collects.

All panelists agreed that testing a campaign with an ad network and learning what works best not only in your industry but for your specific company is the best way to learn how to invest in appropriate networks.

"Understand the dynamics of your own company first," Mr. Jones said. "You have to be comfortable knowing what level of risk you are willing to accept."

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