Interview: CBS Interactive’s Neil Ashe: Ad Nets Never Provided Value To Us

*CBS* Interactive’s move to curtail its dealings with ad networks effective today represents one of the key ways Cnet has influenced its parent since being acquired for $1.8 billion last year. Madison (named for the avenue), the in-house online ad serving platform that CBS Interactive (NYSE: CBS) will rely on in place of ad nets, isn’t new; Cnet has been using it for years. Now it’s being extended now across CBS, Neil Ashe, CBS Interactive’s president told paidContent, adding that none of the Cnet brands have used ad nets in the company’s entire 14-year history.

Ad nets had handled small portions of CBS Interactive’s inventory. While Ashe didn’t want to address specific third party sites, CBS Interactive execs had become increasingly irritated that a wide range of ad networks had begun using Cnet as part of their marketing tools. The company didn’t want its advertisers to think it could go to third parties for cheaper rates. One way to clear up that confusion was to issue a decree: no more ad nets. In an interview with paidContent, Ashe explained the timing; the distinction between ad nets and some ad exchanges; and explained why CBS Interactive will still “test” mobile ad placements with third-party nets. Some excerpts:

paidContent: How did you reach the decision to cut off ad networks from CBS Interactive?

Neil Ashe: It