Tools & Tech

What Is an Ad Server?

sovrnmarketing // November 8, 2016

What is an ad server?

As an online publisher, running ads is probably one of the main ways you monetize your website. However, putting ads on your site can be a daunting endeavor. Therefore it’s important to understand the different terms that come along with display advertising.

Today we’re going to talk a little bit about ad servers.

What Is an Ad Server?

An ad server is a web-based technology that stores, maintains and serves advertisements to website visitors when a page is loaded. Ad servers order all of a publisher’s demand partners in the most profitable waterfall.

Simply put, ad servers help publishers efficiently manage all of the ad space on their site.

How Ad Serving Works

Let’s take a step-by-step look at how ad servers work:

-A website visitor visits a site that runs multiple ads.

Here’s an example of an ad tag:
<script type=”text/javascript” src=”″></script>

-An ad tag on the site loads and “calls” the ad server.
-When the ad server is “called” from an ad tag loading, it registers a request and sends it to the different advertising partners.

-The ad partners can then bid on a request if they are interested in serving the ad.

-The page loads with the winning advertiser’s creative.

Note: This entire process is done in milliseconds through a real-time bidding auction.

Who Uses Ad Servers?

Publishers use ad servers to maximize their ad revenue by serving the highest paying ads that are available. Ad servers make it easy for publishers to add new advertisers to their ad stack and monitor how well each advertiser is doing.
A popular ad server for publishers is Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP).

Advertisers use ad servers to help with campaign management. Advertisers send a line of html code to the ad server that is used to call up an ad directly each time an ad needs to be loaded on a site.

If you’re an early blogger or website, chances are you won’t need to utilize an ad server quite yet. In that case, you can “Hard Code” an ad tag directly on any webpage on your site.

To learn a little bit more about what’s best for your ad strategy, contact Sovrn today.

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