First, I think calling it a “social” ad network is grabbing onto the social buzzword a bit, but it does appear to be more social than other ad networks as it allows publishers to form their own mini-networks based on their topics or other factors.
The idea is that if similar publishers band together they can create a larger pool of inventory that is then more interesting to an advertiser then their site would be alone. This alone is not a new concept, Adify has provided a similar service for a couple of years now.
As a publisher, I love this concept. When I used to own Wakeboarder.com and was selling direct to advertisers in the industry it definitely could have helped if I could have banded together with other sites in the industry to create a larger pool of inventory.
However, this basically would require that I, or one of the other publishers, would be out pitching advertisers in the industry on behalf of the “wakeboarding network”. Would I have done this? Only if I got a percentage of the spend going to the other sites in the network. Would this have worked if I wasn’t actively selling this to advertisers? I don’t think it would have.
So the key question to me, is if I created a wakeboarding community/network on Adroll, who’s going to promote it to advertisers? Are advertisers just going to hear about Adroll and stumble upon it? Are publishers going to be altruistic and promote their community on their blog for the good of the community? Are advertisers going to flock to this?
The bottom line is I’m glad Adroll and Adify are doing this, as small publishers need to get more visibility from advertisers regardless of the method.