Published on: 18 Jul 2021
Reading time: 4 minutes
During the initial shift from print to digital advertising, publishers adopted print media practices to monetize their ad space. While it did facilitate a decent start by letting them sell some of their advertising space via direct sales, with time they realized that the existing model would not be able to give long-term results.
Digital advertising was a radically new landscape at that time with constant advancements in data collection and management. Hence, old techniques were not a good fit and the publishers were looking for innovative solutions that would optimize media buying and make it truly data-driven. That is when ad networks came into the picture.
An ad network or advertising network acts as a single point of access for both publishers and advertisers. Its key function is the aggregation of ad supply available with the publishers and matching it with the requirements of the advertisers. Most of them also provide reporting and tracking support.
The first ad network emerged in the mid-’90s when online advertising was in its initial stages. It helped the publishers iron out the inefficiencies of the market to be able to effectively sell the ad space and meet the advertisers’ demand. Traditionally, its work was to collect unsold ad inventory and offer this pool of impressions to the demand side at a much lower price than the publishers’ direct sales. This kind of inventory sales is often referred to as remnant or non-premium.
However, modern advertising networks have evolved to take a more strategic approach towards offering advertisers the best deals on the premium placement of their ads that have the potential to achieve the highest conversion rates.
Advertising networks can be divided into three categories based on their service for advertisers and publishers.
Ad networks often support a wide spectrum of ad formats like banners, native, display, mobile, video, etc.
Understanding what is an ad network and how it works is incomplete without knowing its benefits for publishers and advertisers.
Ad networks play a crucial role in the buying and selling of advertising space. Further, the rising competition and advancement in advertising technologies continue to drive enhancements in its capabilities. This, in turn, makes it important for advertisers and publishers to understand the importance of ad networks and learn their effective implementation in their ad operations, leading to better campaign performance.
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