Commercial publishers ‘must streamline sales’

Commercial publishers are continuing to develop “unsellable” content which is creating serious over-capacity in the Web advertising market, according to a leading US player.

John Danner, founder and president of NetGravity, which supplies ad management systems to many of the world’s busiest Websites, says an average of only 20 to 25 per cent of available page impressions are being sold across the world’s top 150 English-language sites.

“Many of the top Websites are selling out particular parts of their sites, particularly ones attractive to IT advertisers, but finding other pages more difficult to sell,” he adds.

“As car makers and financial services are beginning to advertise more online, other parts of many sites are selling out. But most people are only shifting a quarter of their sellable inventory.”

According to Danner, part of the over-capacity could be dealt with if many popular Websites developed more professional sales staff to improve sales. But he predicts that a rationalisation of content, unsupported by advertising, is inevitable across many US sites.

“A lot of those media companies spending good money are just putting up with what they have already got without considering what is, and is not, going to win advertising support. A lot of these sites, particularly in the US, will have to change their approach,” he says.

But Danner, who has just set up a London office for NetGravity, suggests European publishers will not suffer the chronic over-capacity in ad inventory being experienced in the US.

“Here the inventory is lower, the more localised audience generated in individual European markets is showing signs of strong appeal to a growing number of European advertisers,” he says.

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