Forbes Makes Peace with Audience Buying

Even the most hard-line publishers appear ready to make peace with the world of ad exchanges. Forbes Media is the latest brand-name publisher to craft a private exchange in the hopes of giving advertisers a way to efficiently buy audiences while not completely commoditizing its inventory.

Forbes is calling its Forbes Media Extension a “brand-side platform,” in nod to the demand-sides platforms that are synonymous with advertisers mining audiences via exchanges. Forbes is using the platform to allow the buy side to access audience segments on Forbes sites and partners in its network of related third-party sites.

In a statement, Kevin Gentzel, chief revenue officer of Forbes Media, said FMX acknowledges the desire by advertisers to buy audiences at scale while adding in the imprimatur of a “trusted environment” endorsed by Forbes. 
Forbes was a leader in the anti-ad network movement of two years ago, swearing off them entirely — and blaming ad networks for declining CPMs at high-end publishers. Then Forbes.com CEO Jim Spanfeller regularly critiqued the network craze for turning online media into “pork bellies,” as Wenda Harris Millard famously described it.
Forbes is one of a handful of top-line publishers to try to craft audience networks with protections. The Weather Channel, CBS Interactive and NBC Universal have all set up private exchanges, which agency trading desks can access to buy segments at prices higher than the publishers would get on the broad ad exchanges.
Forrester Research has pegged private exchanges as an important development to improve the quality of inventory available via so-called programmatic buying. The thought is this will move audience-based, automated ad buying from the near-exclusive preserve of direct response and gain interest from higher-end brands.
Forbes is launching with six audience segments: business and finance; small business; technology professionals; in-market users; wealth and personal finance; and wealth and lifestyle.
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