A leading gay entreprenuer has joined forces with many of America’s leading internet and regional LGBT titles to create a new online ad network.

Gay Ad Network was founded by Mark Elderkin, a 13-year industry veteran and pioneer in developing gay online advertising and subscription-based businesses.

As president of PlanetOut, Inc. he was responsible for global advertising sales, online editorial and business partnerships.

He founded Gay.com, which he built into the largest gay online community.

“Independent web publishers have been successful in creating great quality content and attracting loyal and passionate audiences, but they have been less effective in attracting national advertisers due to their limited individual size,” said Mr Elderkin.

“By developing content-rich marketing programmes that span our aggregated audience, we can provide unique marketing vehicles for our advertising partners.”

According to Harris Interactive/Witeck-Combs Communications, 64% of gay Americans are more likely to buy products that are directly marketed to them in gay media.

DoubleClick reports that 68% of gay web users are between the ages of 18 and 34 and are generally better educated, highly paid and have more discretionary income than average Americans.

Launch partners represented by Gay Ad Network include Window Media properties such as:

Washington Blade, Southern Voice, New York Blade, Express South Florida, David Atlanta and Genre magazine;

RealJock.com, a health and fitness web site for gay men;

Out in America Network, a collection of local content web sites;

Connexion.org, a social networking service for gays and lesbians;

OutSports, a gay sports community;

GayCities, a gay travel community;

Windy City Times; Bay Windows; Pride Source, Philadelphia Gay News;

JustMen; TheLWordOnline.com; GayOrbit; GayWeddings.com;

Bgay.com; GayWebSource; The DataLounge;

and ProudParenting.com, a gay parenting network.

Together they represent a large percentage of the US gay media not owned by PlanetOut, who own The Advocate, Out magazine and Gay.com

“Our national magazine and newspaper brands attract a loyal, affluent audience across both our print and online products,” said William R. Kapfer, PhD., co-president, Window Media.

“Now as part of Gay Ad Network we have gained another layer of online sales expertise, aggregated reach, and the broad agency and client visibility we need to continue to attract high-profile brands and their national online campaigns.”

The gay online advertising business has grown by an average of 33% annually over the past five years.

Once concentrated on a few gay portals, the gay online audience is now fragmented across mainstream social networking sites and a large number of smaller gay information, news, community and niche social networking sites designed for the various segments of the gay market.

Gay Ad Network aims to aggregate these fragmented communities under one umbrella, providing online media planners an easy, efficient way to reach a large segment of the gay and lesbian market and sell integrated media and sponsorship programmes to Fortune 500 brand advertisers.