MAJOR publishing companies are considering dropping ad networks and bringing their online display advertising sales in-house to gain closer control of their inventory and data, new media age understands.
A number of publishers have engaged in conversations to end their deals with ad networks, according to industry sources.
It's understood newspaper publishers in particular are building internal teams to sell their remnant inventory, rather than putting it through networks, as they look for ways to grow flagging revenues.
Likewise, other publishers are considering working with fewer networks so they can collaborate more closely on their online ad sales strategy with one or two partners.
The Guardian has never used ad networks and works with platform developer Adify to develop vertical ad network propositions.
The move by additional UK publishers would echo events in the US last year that saw ESPN stop using ad networks.
Jeremy Mason, European MD of behavioural targeting network Revenue Science, said the moves were imminent. "Publishers are looking at taking things in-house, setting up teams to act as network sales teams," he claimed.
A director of digital publishing at a newspaper group hinted towards the shifting market. "Although we're still using ad networks, our focus is on our own sales to agencies and clients," he said.
Another media industry source said, "Premium publishers want to take as much control of their inventory as possible since they know how to sell it best.
"Premium publishers spend a lot of money creating compelling and original content that brings visitors to their sites frequently. Giving that inventory to a network could be seen as devaluing the effort," they added.
Gary Cole, ITV's online sales director and chair of the AOP's commercial working group, said the trend wasn't on the agenda of AOP members but suggested publishers were looking more closely at their relationships with ad networks.
"Inventory management is now a sophisticated part of commercial strategy and this will mean deeper, fewer relationships," he said.