The part that people don’t yet fully understand is that “vertical ad networks,” at the end of the day, are still ad networks. Ad networks are a vital part of the online media ecosystem. They provide publishers with additional revenue on inventory that isn’t otherwise fulfilling higher CPM sponsorship programs, and they provide direct-response marketers with additional reach at cost-efficient rates. Vertical ad networks offer a bit better targeting because they focus on a smaller set of sites.
While vertical ad networks may improve efficiency for direct-response advertisers, who determine success based on some variation of cost-per-click, they are not solving the needs of brand advertisers. Ultimately, vertical ad networks serve advertisers and will compete with everyone else who serves DR advertisers, from Google to the other ad networks. The excitement over “vertical” ad networks will erode as CPMs on those networks chase the DR metrics.