An ad network is a digital platform that lists ad inventories from publishers and matches them with advertisers looking for available ad space.
What Is an Ad Network?
An ad network is a digital platform that lists ad inventories from publishers and matches them with advertisers looking for available ad space. The ad inventory is often referred to as remnant or non-premium. However, some ad networks today take a more strategic approach by offering exclusive slots on top publisher websites at premium prices.
The Difference Between an Ad Network and Ad Server
Ad network and ad server entered the industry at the same time.
An ad server is a product of advertising technology that ad agencies use to run and manage their ad campaigns. Ad servers exist in two forms: first-party and third-party. Here’s a bit of detail about each type of ad server:
An ad network is also a product of advertising technology, but it is used to do media buying transactions between advertisers and publishers. An SSP (supply-side platform) is the opposite technology to the ad network. It offers the same functionality but with a different inventory and delivery process.
How Does an Ad Network Run?
Ad networks collect all available inventory from publishers and sell it to advertisers as packaged impressions.
Back in the day, when there were few sites and advertisers, publishers would mostly use one ad network to sell their inventory. As more and more websites were created, publishers started getting low fill rates and figured out that they could not sell their inventory on one ad network. To increase fill rates, they started adopting the multi-ad network strategy, and some even offered premium inventory.
How Is an Ad Network Useful to Advertisers and Publishers?
The biggest advantage of using ad networks for publishers is that they can sell inventory that they could not sell in direct deals. However, this does not save publishers from wasting their impressions (not achieving a high fill and selling all inventory).
While ad networks are mainly for publishers to sell all their remnant inventory, they also benefit advertisers.
Types of Ad Networks
Here are some of the main types of ad networks:
The advertiser purchases an impressions pack on a CPM basis in conventional ad networks.
Categories of IAB:
Here are some examples of popular ad networks: