What is an Ad Server?

Apart from the key components of programmatic ad systems – DSPs and SSPs – there are smaller pieces of the massive puzzle – ad servers. Although their input into the advertisement campaign is barely noticeable, they are very important for its proper functioning.

Ad servers are complicated tech systems that host optimize and distribute advertisements across various online platforms. You can think of ad servers as of your ad campaign management platforms or ad tracking systems.

What is ad serving?

Adserving implies the use of special software to distribute ads to various online platforms. Ad-serving engines use sophisticated algorithms and tools to select the most relevant to display ads that follow all the publishers’, advertisers’, and ad servers’ requirements. After placing an ad, servers are responsible for tracking its progress, ad management, ad reporting, and ad billing.

How does ad serving work?

Ad-serving is a complicated, multiple-step technology, taking a few sides to actually work. However, the whole process doesn’t tale more than a second.

  • It also starts with a user visiting a website or app, establishing the IP connection between the user’s and the publisher’s web server. While the website is loading, ad tags on the side are loading too to call the sell-side ad server.
  • Publisher’s ad server receives the ad request and analyzed all the information about the user that advertisers might be interested in.
  • Ad server sends the request to ad exchanges, where buyers start bidding for the ad space.
  • Ad server is also responsible for checking how many times this particular ad was shown to this particular user in the past, this is called frequency capping. The ad won’t show if the user has seen it too many times.
  • Publisher’s ad server chooses the best bid and redirects the browser to the marketer’s ad server.
  • The web page is loaded and the ad is shown to the user, this is called impression.
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Ad serving technology

While publisher ad server helps media sellers increase the value of every impression to maximize their revenues and advertisers ad servers help find the right audience for the ads and control how customers engage with it, ad serving interface makes this whole process easier for both publishers and advertisers. With the help of ad servers, publishers, for example, can get additional reports about ad creatives and optimize their ad space.

Most of the ad servers have a set of powerful ad serving tools that are useful for publishers and advertisers. Make sure it has these components:

  • Ad creative upload
  • Campaign scheduling
  • Automatic optimization
  • Delivery speed
  • Location-based, technical, time and behavioral targeting
  • Retargeting
  • SEO
  • Creative sequencing
  • Frequency capping
  • Ad tracking
  • Reporting

Advertising servers are important components of any marketing campaign. They can either help you dramatically and increase your revenues or even make you suffer losses. It’s essential to understand how this whole process works and choose the ad server that serves your particular needs.


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