What is an Ad Server?
Neha Shekhawat | June 26, 2020
Ad servers play a crucial role in the Ad-tech stack. An ad server is a tech platform that collects and reports back campaign data to the stakeholders. Ad servers are primarily responsible for ad tracking, ad management, ad reporting, and ad billing.
There are two types of ad servers in the Ad-tech ecosystem.
Publisher Ad Server
First-party ad servers are built to support publishers, manage their inventory, and help them display advertisements on the ad slots. They help publishers monetize their websites.
A first-party ad server helps in inventory forecasting – i.e. projecting which inventory would be available in the future for sale depending on current campaigns.
Advertiser Ad Server
Prior to the advent of third-party ad servers the process of taking a campaign live across multiple publishers and channels was cumbersome. The process was manual and involved advertisers sending creatives to the publishers in the media plan, the publishers loading these creatives on their ad servers, and sending back campaign data manually.
This process involved broken workflows. Creative changes and updates were time consuming. Data wasn’t reliable and was prone to fraud.
Third-party ad servers helped solve both the workflow and data integrity problems. Creative management became efficient. Changes to creatives made on the ad server were propagated across the media plan efficiently. These ad servers enabled one to one communication via sophisticated tools such as dynamic creative, etc.
Since the campaign was served from the third-party ad server the data was trustworthy. The data enabled marketers to better understand their campaigns via robust attribution modeling, insights into viewability and brand safety, etc.
Ultimately the role of a buy-side ad server is to provide a single source of truth about campaign performance and drive better performance for the media buyer.