For webmasters out there, most find that dealing with an ad network is the best/easiest way to go. In many cases it is. You just slap some code on your site and then you get a check in the mail. Most of the sales stuff was already done for you, so you just ride the wave of money. However, your wave of money could be a lot larger. Here's why:
Let's say a brand name wants to advertise like Coca-Cola. So Coke is going to go to an ad network and they're going to say "hey, here's a lot of money, bring about brand exposure for us." (If it were to be a site representation firm, the firm would go to Coke and sell you) So now these middlemen come to you and say "we have a client lined up for you, we're going to pay you such and such to advertise it." You say, "great fantastic, let's get started."
So you're about halfway through your campaign and you notice that the Click-Through-Rate (CTR) isn't doing so well. To make matters worse, Coke gets some figures on the campaign and they don't like what they see. They want to cut their losses and get the remainder of their money back. So now these middlemen come to you and say "our advertiser has cancelled the remainder of the campaign, sorry."
Now, you're sitting out of lot's of money that you could've had if you went with a different campaign. Cause you know, you told that other company that the spot they want to advertise in was already reserved. Presently it's open, and the month is already halfway done. You saw that in particular sections of the site that the ad campaign were running well but you can't even talk to the advertiser because that's what it says in the contract.
Someone is definitely an unhappy webmaster.
If you dealt with the advertiser directly, you could've suggested some other methods and salvaged the campaign. Nonetheless, not only could you have salvaged it, but even before you went live, you could've put together a better campaign for your client. You see, if you custom tailor campaigns for clients, you'll notice that it will perform better because you're striving to achieve what they want to accomplish. You know what they want because you're always in direct contact with them.
This is not to say that third-parties aren't helpful, but they create a barrier of communication which extraordinarily important. In today's world, we can see more and more that everything is becoming more specialized and focus onto detail. The reason we're becoming so specialized is because we're communicating very well. Social networks are creating a lot of conversations and communication.
Let's suppose that your campaign did continue and nothing bad was happening. In fact, let's say it did great. The advertiser is really happy and wants to run another campaign. Well, unfortunatley, since you're going through a third party, you can't get the full amount because you can't communicate with them directly, as per your contract. So in essence, you're losing out.
Not only that, but the ad network/site representation firm can undercut you even if the advertiser went to you directly. You're charging a higher price than the ad network is because you made a deal with the ad network/site representation firm that was better for them.
I just want to make it very clear that there certainly is a reason and purpose for site representation firms and networks to exist. They are hard working people and their services should definitely be used. I am suggesting though that you reconsider being totally eclipsed by all these agencies and you actually work on a campaign one on one with the advertiser. I promise you, you'll see better results.
Give me your thoughts!