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The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s first-ever IAB Marketplace: Ad Networks & Xchanges delivered rich, timely information on one of the most pressing issues facing interactive media. Designed to respond to the pressing marketplace need for education on the highly topical, and sometimes highly controversial, subject of online advertising networks and exchanges, the event attracted more than 300 interactive industry professionals to the Roosevelt Hotel in New York on Monday, March 31. 

The crowd upon which knowledge would rain

Randall Rothenberg, IAB President & CEO, aptly described the day’s recurrent waves of information as like "drinking from a fire hose." There were compelling main-stage, overview presentations as well as smaller 15-minute, high-speed downloads from leading players in the networks and exchanges space.

William Morrison, Managing Director, Senior Analyst, Internet & Online Media, ThinkEquity Partners, opened the day on the main stage with an in-depth introduction to ad networks and exchanges. Billed as "Ad Networks & Exchanges 101," the presentation provided a solid foundation for the day, establishing how ad networks and exchanges emerged out of the hyper-fragmentation of the Internet, where they are going, and how they can both benefit, yet present challenges, to advertisers, marketers and publishers.

Michael J. Kelly keynotes the day

Throughout the day, Learn from the Experts sessions gave advertisers and publishers the opportunity to hear from the ad networks and exchanges themselves in intimate settings, in quick 15-minute presentations, what differentiates their companies and what their value proposition is in the online advertising ecosystem. After reach of these rounds, the attendees moved on to the next experts’ sessions for a briefing on their business models and what benefit they offered to the attendees’ business.

Back on the main stage, Steve Ustaris, Group Media Director, Carat, addressed the strategic use of ad networks and exchanges. An expert user of these technologies in media planning, Ustaris identified the most important issues for advertisers and publishers to consider when evaluating a network or exchange. He presented case studies and outlined potential benefits and current challenges.

Joe Mandese, Editor-in-Chief, MediaPost, led a panel that brought publishers, marketers and a network together to debate the perceived threats and potential opportunities that networks and exchanges pose. Joining him for the lively discussion were Peter Naylor, Senior Vice President, Digital Media Sales, NBC Universal; Christine Cook, Senior Vice President, Digital Advertising Sales, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia; Eric Gutierrez, Vice President, Marketing, LendingTree; and Steve Kerho, Vice President, Analytics, Media & Marketing Optimization, Organic, Inc. The frank discussion focused on how networks and exchanges are affecting the participants’ own business models and the ecosystem as a whole.

Michael Kelly, Digital Media Advisor, Investor and Chairman of the Board, Eyeblaster, closed the day with a thought-provoking keynote on what he sees happening next in the ad network and exchange world. Ultimately, he believes, advertisers will want to leverage this technology. The next wave of growth will happen when advertisers can be directly plugged into inventory with more control and transparency. Even more growth will result once networks can deliver across multiple platforms, including widgets. When advertisers can look directly across a network to see how it can fulfill demand in television, online and more, expansion of these technologies will happen at an unprecedented pace.

Throughout the day, many themes emerged. But one theme rose above the rest—to maximize the value of an ad network, exchange, or inventory what’s necessary is a far better understanding of how to leverage all parts of the media buying and selling revolution.