An ad server can be described as an advertising technology or AdTech used by advocates, editors, ad networks and even advertisement agencies for running and dealing with online marketing campaigns. These ad servers can efficiently help in making real time decisions pertaining to which ads should be shown on a particular website so that they can be served quickly. The ad servers also collect different kinds of data and then report them to the advertisers. Visitor behavior such as impressions and clicks provide with feedback to the advertisement experts who can then use such information to improve their ad performance and come up with better insights. Therefore it can be said that ad servers help in managing and displaying different kinds of online advertising content so that they can be accessed by the right users.
Functional Usefulness Of Ad Servers
Ad servers are used by both publishers as well as advertisers for their advertising purposes. When they are used by publishers, they are called first-party ad servers. On the other hand, they are referred to as third-party ad servers when they are used by advertisers. Although it is basically the same technology, ad servers are used by advertisers and publishers for somewhat different reasons.
First-Party Ad Servers
The first-party ad servers empower the publishers to run and manage the ad slots on websites and properly exhibit the commercials that have been directly sold to the advertisers through the direct campaigns. If there is no availability of direct campaigns, the first-party ad servers function as a platform for managing the ads. In this way they help the publishers to decide which specific ad codes obtained from third-party ad networks, ad servers or SSP should be served in the ad slots. The first-party ad server makes decisions regarding which ads must be displayed on the website according to specific and nuanced targeting parameters. They also serve those ads while at the same time collect and report relevant data on user behavior. They can also be used for comprehensive inventory forecasting purposes, such as making decisions on what kind of inventory is required for the present and future according to the current campaigns as well as future traffic projections.
Third-Party Ad Servers
Third-party ad servers are used by advertisers for keeping clear track of all advertising campaigns. The ad server tags of the advertisers are loaded by first-party ad servers; therefore, it is no surprise that the functionality of third-party ad servers is rather limited when compared to the first-party servers. The third-party ad servers are mainly used for collecting campaign data as well as for verifying certain metrics associated with consumer behavior, such as clicks and impressions.
In some cases, third-party ad servers are also used for implementing certain creative optimizations. Advertisers can effectively change creative elements that are used in promotional campaigns and may even run some A/B tests. Nevertheless, the targeting of these ads is mostly determined by the first-party ad servers. Both first-party ad servers and third-party ad servers play a crucial role in managing the online ads as they are shown in the online advertising campaigns.