Macworld publisher IDG challenges agency trading desks with its own online ad exchange

Even since the Google-isation of online ads the big marcoms companies have been trying to muscle in on the action, offering the equivalent of investment bank trading desks to persuade their clients that they can achieve the best reach for the cheapest money.

Publicis Groupe’s Vivaki and Interpublic’s Cadreon seem to be the ones in front.

This clearly represents a threat to online publishers, particularly those who feel they’re in the proud possession of brands they feel should command a premium.

Tech websites earn huge amounts from online advertising because their many millions of customers are actually interested in the ads, they’ll do anything to learn about a new gadget and, occasionally, might even buy it.

Now IDG, publisher of Macworld, Computerworld and PCWorld has decided to take on Vivaki and Cadreon at the their own game.

Here’s Ad Age’s report.

NEW YORK ( — More publishers are looking to claim ownership over digital advertising to combat the growing dominance of Wall Street-like trading desks they believe are depressing the value of online ad inventory.

IDG, publisher of technology titles such as Computerworld, Macworld and PCWorld, has formed its own private advertising exchange consisting of 450 tech-focused websites into which a select group of advertisers will be able to buy advertising. The private exchange, called, will launch in February and represent 90 million unique viewers and a billion impressions.
“We don’t want just anybody to be a part of this,” said Peter Longo, CEO of IDG’s Networks division. “We want this to be a vetted group of sites that are truly focused on technology — quality sites that advertisers want to be against.”

Mr. Longo would not discuss exactly which brands will be buying into the private group, but agency trading desks — such as Cadreon and Vivaki — would be the obvious customers of such an exchange, as well as buying dashboards from companies such as MediaMath, which are sometimes known as “demand-side platforms.” IDG has partnered with startup AdMeld, the creator of a real-time bidding platform that helps publishers sell their online pages at higher rates.

Forming a closed network of websites was also a response to the emergence of trading desks and DSPs.

“There was a real need on the part of buyers for this kind of environment,” Mr. Longo explained about how buying online advertising has changed in the past year. Advertising networks which have dominated the online ad-buying ecosystem for so long are increasingly being pushed aside in favor of DSPs and trading desks.

Part of the reason is that bigger brand advertisers are looking for more assured placements of their ads. When advertisers buy on networks, they typically will not know exactly on which sites their ad units appeared, a result of the industry push to buy audiences instead of specific content sites. While that dynamic is still in play, major advertisers have become more concerned about the context in which their ads are appearing.

“That’s why we wanted to create this private exchange,” Mr. Longo said. “Instead of buying into websites that self-report that they’re technology-focused, our sites have been vetted by IDG.”

AdMeld CEO Michael Barrett said that more and more publishers are looking to find ways to reclaim their inventory, which has long been sold in a black-box exchange where buyers get lowest possible rates. “This year, I’m sure you’ll see more publishers trying to do this type of exchange,” he said.

Of course people will say that IDG’s titles will emerge at the top of the heap on its own exchange.

But other publishers might still prefer to deal with an exchange run by one of their own.

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