What Are Ad Networks

What Is an Ad Network and How Does It Work?

What Is an Ad Network & How Does It Work? [Definition Guide]

Advertising professionals and publishers rely on each other for common benefits: monetizing online audiences and getting in touch with prospective customers. That’s why it’s so important for both inventory and business owners to get in touch with each other and have a convenient way to publish ads. That’s where ad networks come into play.

Publishers and marketers no longer have to exchange emails and negotiate over every banner placement. This entire process is now mediated by ad networks. In this post, we answer the question What are ad networks?”, highlight their benefits, discuss the most popular models, and help you choose the right ad network for your needs.

What Is An Ad Network??

An ad network is a middle-man between 2 businesses: those who buy trafffic (advertisers) and those who sell traffic (publishers or bloggers). Back in the 90s, these tools used to be non-specific, publishing different types of ads on all websites that sold inventory.

Now that the Internet is more competitive, sophisticated types of ad networks emerged. One part handles exclusively social media ads, the other is in charge of distributing video advertising, and some handle mobile only. To get an answer to the question “How do ad networks work?”, let’s examine them from two points of view.

Advertisers

  • Setting up the campaign. First, advertisers describe their spot requirements: how much they are ready to pay per impression, which audience they are aiming at, and the content format they are sharing. 

  • Connecting with publishers. Once an advertiser created a campaign, the system will automatically place the ad on the platform that meets the requirements of company managers. 

  • An advertiser can change the types of ads he wants to publish without having to notify the publisher — modifying the spot’s settings is all it takes to rotate a video or a banner

Publishers

  • Providing inventory. A publisher decides how much website space he’s ready to put for sale and sets a minimum bid for each inventory item.

  • Choosing the highest bidder. After a publisher finalizes their offer, the inventory is put up for auction. After the bidding, a winning advertiser takes the spot. Despite the seeming complexity, it’s a fully automated and fast process — determining a winning bid takes milliseconds. 

  • Placing the ad on the website. The creatives provided by a winning advertiser are transferred to the publisher via the network. After the ad is published, all interaction data is sent back to the advertiser so that he can track the marketing efforts. 

Ad Server, Ad Network, and Ad Exchange: The Difference

Ad networks, ad servers, and ad exchanges make up ad placement, so it’s common for both advertisers and publishers to confuse them. We’ll take a closer look at the definition of the concepts, and the differences between them. We already know how the definition explains what an ad network is. Now let’s consider two other concepts: ad servers and exchanges. 

An ad server is a technology that manages, stores, and exchanges files between those who buy traffic (in order to rotate ads) and those who sell traffic (expose ads to the website’s visitors). 

An ad network definition — it’s a platform that consists of an ad server, a demand-side, and a supply-side platform. 

An ad exchange is alike an ad network as both distribute inventories. The ad network dictates the cost of an inventory spot, while ad exchanges set it through real-time bidding.

To understand the key differences between ad networks, servers, and exchanges, take a look at the comparative table below:

  • Ad server

    DEFINITION
    A set of equipment and technologies used to publish the ad.

    FUNCTIONS
    Ad publishing, user engagement tracking, performance reporting.

    TYPES
    Local and remote ad servers.

  • Ad network

    DEFINITION
    Advertisers and Publishers use it in a direct way to supervise campaigns and inventory.

    FUNCTIONS
    Accessing the network of advertisers and publishers.

    TYPES
    Media, mobile, and video ad networks.

  • Ad exchange

    DEFINITION
    Digital marketplaces that rely on real-time bidding to distribute inventory.

    FUNCTIONS
    Ad distribution and inventory management.

    TYPES
    Open and private ad exchanges.

Using Ad Networks: Benefits

Ad networks are an advantageous decision since they are doing an excellent job in helping marketing professionals get more exposure. Publishers, on the other hand, can sell inventory and capitalize on years of hard work. 

Let’s take a look at the benefits that ad networks provide for advertisers and publishers:

Benefits for advertisers

  • Access to unique traffic sources worldwide. They provide instant connection to millions of publishers and help business owners broaden their reach, and get in touch with international audiences.

     

  • Facilitated ad campaign management. Ad networks come with a variety of marketing tools for ad design and campaign tracking. Thus, business owners and marketers get a clear understanding of how much engagement every ad they pay for generates.

     

  • Robust setup settings. Advertisers can use a detailed user profile. Being able to specify the cost per click, the interests, and location of desired traffic, and choose the most appealing ad type for your audience improves the efficiency of marketing efforts a great deal.

Benefits for publishers

  • No in-person interactions. Using ad networks instead of looking for advertisers personally allows publishers to not worry about your blog monetization model and focus on editorial planners and attracting as many readers to the website as possible.
     
  • Publishing relevant ads. Ad networks give media owners a possibility to filter ads and choose those that are relevant to the platform’s readers and don’t go against the editorial policy.

     

  • Multiple monetization options. Publishers can charge advertisers on the pay-per-click, pay-per-view, pay-per-sale, pay-per-lead, and pay-per-install basis. Media owners are sure they leverage the full potential of their inventory.

     

  • Built-in inventory management infrastructure. A built-in supply-side platform comes in handy for publishers — they can manage their inventory, track user engagement, and revenue. 
Advertiser Publisher

Target the campaigns in detail;

A/B test different ad types;

Create and edit campaigns in teams;

Create detailed reports 

Change the design and placement of ads;

Sell rich-media ads on a website;

Filter ads and choose those that match the audience's interests.

Types of Ad Networks

To make it easier for both parties to meet each other’s needs, ad networks moved from one generic platform to separate types of tools. Take a closer look at the main types of ad networks and choose the right one for you:

  • Premium ad networks. These platforms host hard-to-get inventory spots. To find the answer to the question “How does advertising network work?”, an advertiser might need to either request an invitation or pay a subscription fee. As for publishers, they need to make sure that the platform meets traffic requirements set by the network to start distributing their inventory. 

  • Vertical ad networks. These are industry-specific networks. In case an IT company, for example, wants to publish an ad on a tech platform, joining an IT-only ad network will give business owners higher odds of matching with relevant target audiences. 

  • Inventory-specific networks distribute a particular kind of inventory (banner-only, video-only, mobile-only, etc.), making it easier for business owners and content platform managers to place and distribute a specific type of content. Verizon Media and Taboola are prominent examples of such networks.

  • Affiliate ad networks. Affiliate marketing (placing links from advertisers natively in a blog post) is riding a wave lately — according to statistics, advertisers spend $6.8 billion on it per year. Now, there are plenty of such networks: ShareASale, Awin, Amazon Associates, and others. 

  • Multi-format ad networks. These are global structures serving billions impressions monthly. They provide partners with at least 10 ad formats: popunders, display banners, video pre-rolls, push notifications, etc. Lately, it has become feasible to rotate multiple ad types with just a single line of code. Innovative formats like Social Bar bring a fresh spin into marketing activities of both advertisers and publishers.

An ad network with partner care

Apart from being global, versatile, and tech-driven, Adsterra is well-known for its partner care. Rely on our support when launching a campaign or choosing an ad format to put on your website.

EARN WITH ADSTERRA

Why Are Ad Networks Important?

Ad networks have brought about a revolution in digital advertising. They marketers and inventory owners almost infinite room for scalability, became a convenient foothold for designing and tracking marketing campaigns, and fuel the entire industry of programmatic advertising. 

If you are wondering “Why are ad networks important”, consider the following reasons:

1. It’s a mediator between advertisers and publishers

Ad networks are the reason why today it’s impossible to imagine connecting with advertisers and publishers via emails, having no methods to make sure that a publisher isn’t lying about the popularity and readership of the platform or talking over inventory prices.

2. Facilitate inventory and campaign management

With ad networks, advertisers can connect with audiences that fit the company’s business objectives like a glove, track the performance of an ad, and adjust bid settings. Publishers can manage all their inventory in a single centralized platform and get the most out of every inventory spot on sale. 

3. Help businesses scale advertising and promotion

Advertisers can place ads on multiple platforms at once in milliseconds. Similarly, publishers can sell dozens of inventory spots at once. Thanks to a centralized management platform, neither have a risk to get confused or make a miscalculated decision — a third-party network will offer both business and media owners a big-picture view of their marketing and monetization strategies. 

4. Wide range of advertising and monetization technologies

A typical advertising network is more than a database — rather a full suite of marketing software and integrations. Think about Ad Sense or Facebook Ad Manager and the robust toolkits these platforms offer.

How To Choose An Ad Network?

  • Choose a reputable platform

    To start with, find out how many ads the network you are considering hosts. A high number of offers speaks for experience and reputation. The quality of ads is a telling factor as well. If the visuals are low-quality and feature misleading, inappropriate content, you are likely better off choosing a different ad network.

  • Make sure the tool is easy to navigate

    A feature-heavy, hard-to-use ad network will take a lot of time to master, not to mention the huge room for costly errors. When choosing a platform for ad placement or blog monetization, prioritize interface, and navigation. Make sure there’s a help center or a dedicated knowledge base to help you understand the ins-and-outs of the network. At Adsterra we provide our partners with a Self-Service Platform to set up, adjust, and manage campaigns.

  • Go for format variety

    Inventory-specific ad networks are a solid choice if you know what type of ads you want to publish or which inventory you are selling. As your audience's preferences may change, try to choose versatile networks offering multiple ad formats. Pay attention to ads adaptivity, as mobile devices usage has grown dramatically.

  • Choose a network with flexible targeting settings

    This way you will be able to reach out to people who are interested in your product or host ads that meet the topic of your website. Adsterra offers 20+ targeting settings and smart traffic estimation help you profit from ad rotation and lower expenses.

  • Make sure the platform has robust reporting and performance monitoring tools

    Since fraud is a huge pain point in advertising (according to the statistics, out of every $3 marketers spend on promotion, $1 is lost due to fraudsters). That’s why advertisers need to make sure the advertising network providers have a wide range of performance tracking metrics. As for publisher demands, detailed reporting will help track readers’ reactions to advertising and make sure you are not losing your audiences due to the abundance of banners.

  • Aim for the networks with clear payment and compensation algorithms

    Reputable ad networks typically have help centers or ’Terms of use’ pages that lay out the monetization standards. Being thorough about monetization is important for publishers in particular since it influences their income directly.

Conclusion

What is an advertising network? Ad networks are a convenient and easy-to-use way for advertisers and publishers to bring together. An ad network will help facilitate and scale the process whether you are publishing an ad or selling inventory.

To advertise your services or monetize your web platform safely and transparently rely on Adsterra — a reputable ad management platform. With over 25 billion people viewing our ads and thousands of publishers and advertisers collaborating on the platform, we are known as a secure and reliable ad network. 

Affiliates can test drive our traffic using the top Offers Wishlist that we refresh regularly. Direct advertisers benefit from launching manageable vast-reach or narrow-targeted campaigns. Publishers enjoy regular payouts on Net15 basis starting from $5 (for Paxum and Webmoney).

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