What is an ad server?
Ad servers are web applications publishers, advertisers, and ad networks use to manage ad campaigns and distribute ads to mobile apps and websites as required. They offer tools to track, upload, and deploy ad campaigns. They automate the entire ad distribution process and are also equipped with tracking capabilities to track impressions, clicks, and other essential metrics.
Ad servers can either be obtained as a hosted service from providers or be self-hosted in a company's internal servers.
How do ad servers work?
There are three basic steps involved in the working of these ad servers.
- Calling the ad tag on the publisher site: When a user visits a website, the ad tag placed in the ad unit is called so that the ad server gets an ad creative ready.
- Selecting an ad creative: An ad creative is chosen depending on whether the deal is pre-negotiated, an open auction is involved, and available user information such as behavior, geographic location, browsing history, etc.
- Calling the advertiser ad creative to display: In the case of pre-negotiated deals, the advertiser creatives are stored and called directly from the first-party ad server. However, a third-party ad server is involved when there is an open auction. In both cases, user information is considered to deliver the most relevant ads.