Industry Insights
On the Record: Decibel Network and Marketing to Electronic Music Fans


Mark Fragoulias
Decibel Network



For those of us that aren’t familiar with Decibel Network, please tell us a little more about your offering and audience. 

Decibel is a cutting-edge advertising platform offering an essential mix of content rich websites and audience data which covers the full spectrum of electronic music, production and culture. Speaking to a large global audience (20 million+ unique users), Decibel delivers audiences with extensive experience in pro audio, club promotion, djing, music publishing and the recording industry overall. Most importantly, we’re all here because we’re passionate about music. Everything we do is driven by that love.


What are some common misconceptions about electronic music enthusiasts? (people that listen to DJs like Tiesto, Kaskade, Armin van Buuren, etc)

In the past, electronic music has been lumped into an obscure or obsolete niche that lacked any advertising potential. Today however; the genre of music has seen resurgence and flourishes globally, attracting all types of advertisers that are able to tap into this new generation of millennials.


From the data we see on Thalamus, it seems like both networks and publishers are getting more specialized in the audience they address, as compared to going horizontal and offering a generalist audience of just anyone. What are some pros (and cons) of being in a niche/specialized audience like the one Decibel Network serves? 

We’re at a saturation point in the marketplace today where everyone has a similar offering targeting similar inventory and audiences. This lack of specialization gives us the opportunity to differentiate and deliver custom audiences at scale. It’s easy to see the value in specialization, and from our experience, both publishers and advertisers have been really receptive to the services we provide. I expect this trend to continue as both advertisers and publishers continue to look to specialized networks to connect their audiences and increase yield. On the other side of the fence, being in a specific niche does limit your overall growth potential. However, becoming an expert in a specialized area as well as being able to leverage new marketing technology can still be very valuable if done right.


What do you think are some of the worst problems plaguing the advertising ecosystem today? 

For one, everyone has a “me too” solution. The lack of innovation I feel is one of the biggest problems we face today. As advertiser demand moves to programmatic, we need to find new ways to match audiences with brands on-demand. The current ecosystem doesn’t support that in a way that makes sense or is efficient for most advertisers – especially if you are in a smaller niche.


What are some of your biggest challenges you face as a niche network with a specialized audience

As a niche network, growth tends to be slow at first as you don’t have the advantage of broad market reach on your side.


Are there any innovations going on in digital or mobile advertising that you are excited about?

I’m excited to see that for the first time, the majority of digital ad spending will be on mobile devices. Mobile media is finally getting the respect it deserves and will only grow in the coming years. Decibel has embraced mobile from day one and we’ve partnered with some great sites and demand partners with plans to expand moving forward.


With the profusion of ad technology companies, networks, platforms, exchanges, and options that advertisers have, how do you see everything playing out? (Consolidation, some folks dying off, market growing fast enough to support everything, etc) 

It’s hard to predict, but I do think the players that are able to innovate and offer differentiated products will be in it for the long haul. Technology has certainly made it easier for many to operate and startup, but ultimately, it’s still a relationship dependent business regardless of whether you’re a network, DSP, SSP, etc. The technology will only get you so far.


Being an invite-only ad network, what are your criteria for ensuring only the highest-quality and most trustworthy publishers join your supply network? 

We source publishers that have a reputation of producing high quality content. Is their audience engaged? Do they have a large social following? Does the content meet our editorial standards? These are some of the questions we ask ourselves when evaluating a website partner.


What are your thoughts about header bidding

If done correctly, it can provide publishers the opportunity to earn incremental revenue. However, it’s complicated and comes with its own risks and is probably better left to SSPs that have the infrastructure to support it.


Lastly, what do you see as the future of digital ad buying for niche audiences such as the one Decibel Network reaches? 

I see continued innovations around the marrying of niche audiences (data + content) and programmatic pipes to achieve increased reach and scale for advertisers and relevant, engaging ads tailored for specific audiences.



Decibel represents the largest inventory of display and mobile advertising in the electronic music and entertainment industry. The dbX premium ad exchange is our advanced trading platform for publishers and advertisers with premium inventory and massive audience reach across both desktop and mobile web.

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