ESPN is opting to go it alone with online ads, ending its relationship with Specific Media and declining offers from other networks. The giant family of sports websites apparently is concerned about high commission rates and protecting its brand.
The move has many observers speculating on a possible new trend – large websites pulling online ad management in house. The forecast for ad networks is also clouded by growing competition form niche networks as well new do-it-yourself tools from Google and others. The coming months are expected to heavily influence the future of the industry. Will other major sites follow ESPN’s lead, or will ad networks brush off this setback?