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Advertising Networks

(October 08, 2003) - The most overused and least understood term in our industry is "network". In spite of the universal success of the internet style 'open network', a good deal of money is being spent developing 'closed networks' like the radio, press and television monopolies that dominated late 20th century media. In a closed network, the pitch to advertisers is "we have the best network" (like Sprint in yesterday's example).  In an open network, the sales pitch is "we can get you the best service."

For the sake of simplicity, an advertising network is a collection of job boards on which advertising can be purchased through a single sales point.

Some services offer free access to a huge range of distribution outlets. For a subscription fee, Net-Temps, for example, broadcasts a job posting to its network of 'over 5,000 affiliated job sites'. The Net-Temps operation builds traffic and resume flow through a series of ongoing and well maintained relationships. Of all the major players in the industry, Net-Temps is the most consistent offeror of a network designed to meet customer needs. Net-Temps uses its traffic development resources to build its network. In other words, the network is the Net-Temps business model.

CareerCast provides the most extreme alternative to the Net-Temps model. The Carlsbad, California company (slightly larger in reach than newspaper industry competitor Careerbuilder) provides job boards services to hundreds of newspapers. Since all of the data flows through the same software in very similar form, it is supremely easy to move chunks of data between the various newspaper job boards. CareerCast allows each of its member companies to create their own alliances with other members, forming their own network.

CareerCast's clients include all of the really innovative players in the Newspaper Business (with the single exception of the Washington Post). CareerJournal, The New York Times and The Boston Globe each use CareerCast's infrastructure services. Each of them has evolved a unique network based on the available outlets in the CareerCast universe (networks: NYT, BG, CJ). Each outlet is able to define and position its network in unique ways. The CareerCast approach allows each outlet to act as the primary node an individual network. In the CareerCast model, the network is the 'property' of the individual newspaper outlet. CareerCast is a network of networks, each tailored to the needs of a specific market.

If CareerCast provides open networking among its membership, CareerBuilder offers a top down variation on the same theme. (For a giggle, take a look at their Recruitment Technology Survey and ask yourself why it includes partner BrassRing but leaves out competitor Resumix or industry standard Webhire). CareerBuilder is a newspaper industry financed attempt to build a network into a brand.

A Careerbuilder member posts its jobs to the sprawling Careerbuilder site. National distribution, regardless of effectiveness, is a part of the scheme. It's more useful to think of CareerBuilder as a Monster-style operation with a network of distributed sales offices. Although this wouldn't be an advertising network according to our original definition, the idea of a national destination with local cash collection is sufficiently interesting to cover it in this analysis.

As you can see, the 'network' model is embedded in the operations of key players. Tomorrow, we'll cover an additional group of networks. This short look into advertising networks will conclude with a framework for decision making and some guesses about the viability of the individual models.

John Sumser

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