Maybe there is a point where verticals can be connected to create critical mass. During this week's Ad-Tech, I learned about a company named Active Athlete. The company unifies advertising opportunities for about 100 sites, ranging from SlowTwitch to LaxPower.
Here's what caught my attention: 10 million unduplicated uniques; 4.5 visits per month; 10 page views per visit; 9.5 minutes per session.
Active Athlete's CEO, Robert Tas, was visiting his favorite triathlon site two years ago and noticed there were no meaningful national advertisers. The light bulb went on, and he created this business and network. He's targeting the endemic advertisers like Nike or Power Bar, the non-endemic advertisers outside sports, and smaller-tier sports advertisers who may have a local bent.
Setting up an ad network takes brute force. He's putting vertical search and search advertising plans into place, and will launch these soon. For display sales, he's begun hiring ad executives who are known in their sports. After all, even the biggest names could stand to make a living after retirement.
Tas explains that Active Athlete's a lifestyle company and that “90% of this is passion.” The other 10% sounds like good effective CPMs, when a critical mass is reached.