In the age of multitasking and always-connected lifestyles, it should be simple to launch an advertising campaign against your target prospects and not merely reach them but to do so via multiple platforms, creating "integration" and "synergy"— words we love so much.

But does anyone really fit into a perfect profile? Is it really who one is, where one lives, what one does for a living, and how much one makes that define a person?

When thinking about the ability to connect with someone in terms of demographics (for me, that would be female, 25-34, college graduate, married, two children in household younger than 3, works full time, professional/managerial, homeowner) and even going so far as identifying psychographic interests (again, for me: enjoys cooking, traveling, reading, watching movies, exercising, and listening to live music), does all that really tell you who I am or whether I am going to respond to an advertisement?

It is important to ensure we are reaching the right audience, at the right time, with the right message.

Especially considering the current economic climate, digital platforms are increasingly becoming a champion for clients with their ability to produce measurable results. And as metrics and performance become more important, advertising networks play a significant role in the ability to meet back-end goals.

The bombardment of advertising networks over the past five years has created stiff competition and forced aggressive evolution of the space. They offer a flexible and more-efficient way to reach and segment consumers. Advertisers can meet ambitious goals by leveraging networks' mass reach, diverse targeting options, and flexible pricing platforms.

Instead of just being targeted in a women's category or geographically (once again, me: located in Atlanta), I would also be classified among working mothers, summer-vacation travelers, online shoppers, or food lovers.

With nearly 90% of all advertising agencies using advertising networks, it seems networks have caught on to the game. Now the question on everyone's mind has to do with where the real advantages are.

Inventory is sold to multiple networks and re-brokered, and can often fluctuate, leaving performance and delivery to be questioned. Mysterious technology and automatic optimization methodologies are delivered via fancy PowerPoint presentations that tout super-human strength against the competition.

Cannibalization is making its way down the media train like it always does. For example, AOL Advertising is not only AOL but also a performance-based advertising network of, a behavioral advertising network of Tacoda, a text-link advertising network of Quiqo, a mobile network of Third Screen Media, and... well, you get the idea.

What is a media person to do? In the midst of it all, advertising exchanges evolve beyond Right Media (which is now owned by Yahoo) with dynamic pricing models.

Google is moving quickly by offering not only its Google Network but also the DoubleClick Advertising Exchange, which now is one platform for advertisers, while the DoubleClick Advertising Exchange is solely operating for rebrokering media on the publisher and network side.

As the landscape continually evolves, so do consumers. Web 3.0, in relying on analytical insights and consumers' current behavior, engagement, and action, has taken a new form with the help of advertising networks.

The combination of reach and back-end analytics has resulted in the ability to better reach a specific user online who is likely to respond or purchase based on consumer response—and also the ability to create a higher level of insight at the planning stage.

The tide has turned, and the use of technology is allowing agencies and clients to verify media buys, determine new audience segments, understand the purchase process, and better segment usage and habits.

That translates into interactive agencies' now being invited to the table when strategic planning occurs, which is a far cry from years ago when online could only hope to secure a portion of the media budget after the traditional beasts soaked up the majority.

With companies such as Quantcast, Audience Science, and Datran's Aperture, back-end analytics are at the forefront of the sales model. Instead of the mysterious chart of arrows in every direction, the insights are not held in a black box but come in the form of a user-friendly dashboard that is customized and focused on a client's metrics beyond a financial investment.

Different metrics and variables can be isolated to see how an interactive media buy is converting vs. the aggregate and how the isolation of some of those can yield high returns given the right message.

I'm happy to see the trend, and by no means is it perfected by one property or publisher, but it makes perfect sense given the role that the online platform is playing for clients' brands in the way of sales, community, education, and consumer brand interaction.

It seems one thing left for them to do is figure out a successful way to monetize the technology. Hmm... that sounds familiar.

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Amy Manus is director of media for Nurun (, a global interactive marketing agency. Reach her via