With an increasing amount of ad dollars moving online, there seems to be a clash building up that is much larger than what we have seen before. In a way, it wasn't until the rise of Google and Yahoo contextual advertising programs, that small to medium sized websites could monetize inventory appropriately. For a couple of years now, search and text-based advertising has remained one of the fastest growing mediums, but with the recent acquisitions of Doubleclick (by Google) and aQuantive (by Microsoft), there is a clear sign that contextual and brand display advertising are either set to merge or live along happily with each other.
Likewise, there is another sort of movement going on where traditional established brands that are very well known outside of the web, in this case ESPN, are trying not to succumb anymore to general purpose ad networks that make a living by selling ad inventory in bulk, usually at lower prices, targeting users based on content channels or using computer algorithms to establish a certain usage pattern on the user.
ESPN is one of the first big media companies to officially shut down doors to ad networks to sell their remnant inventory. On the long run, the company says, it won't work well for them as it diminishes the value of content. But will others follow suit?