What Is An Ad Server

Ad Server

Ad server, what is it?

Ad servers are the technological engines that allow advertisers and publishers to optimize, manage, and distribute ads across a multitude of paid channels. Based on a combination of advertising campaign settings such as audience segments, budget, and timeline, ad servers calculate in real-time the best ads to load for specific audiences on an array of devices, retail, and media channels.

How Ad Servers Work?

When digital publishers produce fresh content, it typically includes ad space or is hosted on a webpage that contains ad space. This is a critical way for publishers to earn money from their content. However, merely designating an area for an ad does not guarantee an ad will appear.

Advertisers and ad agencies have ads that they want to reach people. However, unlike buying commercial spots or billboards, placing ads effectively online is more complex than just selecting a website and sending an ad to the publisher. It involves considering various elements such as ad format, ad tag, ad slot, and more.

Ad servers play a vital role in connecting publishers and agencies. They store ads and distribute them to publishers’ ad inventory slots using advanced decision engines and precise ad targeting data.

The process of displaying ads is done in real-time while users interact with publishers’ content. The ad network provides information about the user, which is used by the ad server to display the relevant ad.

In the end, ad servers gather important data on metrics like ad impressions from an ad network and then communicate that information to both advertisers and publishers.

Ad Server Process

Here’s a detailed, step-by-step breakdown of the ad serving process:

User visits the website or app: When a user arrives at a website or app with ad placements, the process begins. The user’s device sends a request for content, including the ad spaces.
Ad request: The website or app sends an ad request to the ad server, which contains information about the user, such as their device, browser, IP address, and other relevant data. This information helps the ad server to determine suitable ads based on the specified criteria.
Ad selection process: The ad server analyzes the request and matches it with the available ads in its inventory. It takes into account various factors, such as targeting options, campaign settings, and pacing. It also considers the bid value and prioritizes ads with higher bids or better performance.
Ad decision: Once the ad server identifies the most suitable ads, it decides on which ad or ads to serve to the user. In some cases, multiple ads may be selected for a single ad placement, such as in the case of a rotating banner.
Ad rendering: The ad server returns the chosen ad creative(s) along with the necessary code for displaying the ad on the website or app. This code includes tracking pixels or scripts to monitor user interactions with the ad.
Ad display: The website or app then renders the ad creative(s) and displays it to the user within the designated ad slot. At this point, the user can view and interact with the ad.
User interaction: If a user clicks on the ad or takes any other desired action (such as watching a video or filling out a form), this information is recorded and sent back to the ad server.
Tracking and reporting: The ad server collects and processes data on impressions, clicks, and other relevant metrics. It then generates reports and analytics for advertisers and publishers to review, allowing them to evaluate the performance of their campaigns and make data-driven optimizations.
Optimization: Based on the performance data, advertisers and publishers can adjust their ad campaigns, targeting options, or ad placements to improve results. This ongoing process of monitoring and optimization helps businesses achieve their advertising goals and maximize their return on ad spend (ROAS).

Features And Options Available In Ad Servers

Ad formats: Ad servers typically support a wide range of ad formats, such as display, video, native, and rich media ads.

Targeting options: Businesses can utilize various targeting options to deliver ads to specific audience segments, including demographic, geographic, contextual, and behavioral targeting.

Ad scheduling: Ad servers allow businesses to schedule their campaigns by setting start and end dates, as well as frequency capping to limit the number of times a user sees an ad within a given timeframe.

Reporting and analytics: Ad servers provide businesses with detailed reports and analytics, enabling them to monitor ad performance, identify trends, and optimize their campaigns for better results.

Integration capabilities: Many ad servers can be integrated with other ad tech platforms, such as demand-side platforms (DSPs), supply-side platforms (SSPs), and ad exchanges, to streamline the ad buying and selling process.


Ad servers, also known as first-party servers, are essential tools for publishers to manage their ad inventory and achieve the highest possible ad revenue yield. By closely monitoring ad performance within their content, publishers gain valuable insights that inform pricing and future yield decisions.

In order to effectively manage their ad placements, direct campaigns with advertisers, and select which ads to automatically display on their website or content, publishers may utilize a first-party ad server. This platform can ultimately lead to increased ad revenue for the publisher.


Ad servers used by agencies, which act as intermediaries between publishers and companies advertising their products or services, are referred to as third-party ad servers.

A third-party ad server’s main purpose is to provide ad campaign data to campaign managers and their agencies. They generate information on ad impressions, clicks, video ad completions, and other essential ad metrics.

In addition, these platforms enable agencies and advertising campaign managers to efficiently manage their campaigns across a wide range of publishers. With the ability to make modifications to ad creatives and ad copy within the hosted ad server, changes can be implemented simultaneously across all publishers running the ads.

Some of the Ad servers are listed below:

  1. Amazon Ad Server: Amazon Ad Server is a global, multichannel ad server used to build, distribute, and measure campaigns across demand-side platforms (DSPs) and publishers worldwide. Amazon Ad Server allows you to create, distribute, and optimize your messaging, including ad serving, creative authoring, and dynamic creative optimization. Amazon Ad Server offers brands and agencies the tools for creating engaging ads and centralizing applicable insights. Amazon Ad Server gives you the creative control, flexibility, and efficiency to engage audiences with relevant, impactful ads. Amazon Ad Server offers flexible solutions for creative authoring, campaign management, and cross-media measurement.
  2. Google Ad Manager (DFP): Google Ad Manager is an ad management platform for large publishers who have significant direct sales. Ad Manager provides granular controls and supports multiple ad exchanges and networks, including AdSense, Ad Exchange, third-party networks, and third-party exchanges.
  3. AppNexus (Xandr): Xandr is an American multinational technology company operating a cloud-based software platform that enables and optimizes programmatic online advertising.
  4. AdGlare: AdGlare is a lightning-fast Ad Server for Publishers and Advertisers. AdGlare Ad Server is an ad serving platform that helps digital publishers and advertisers manage, serve, and track their online advertising campaigns. It provides a suite of tools and services that allow users to create, manage, and optimize ad campaigns, including display ads, video ads, and native ads.
  5. AdFlight: AdFlight’s ad serving APIs help businesses to quickly build fully-customized Ad Servers for their company. Core elements like campaign management, budget pacing, decisioning, event tracking and reporting are all taken care of. With AdFlight you can build a custom ad server in no time.
  6. Revive Ad Server: Revive Adserver is a free open-source ad serving system that enables publishers, ad networks, and advertisers to Manage campaigns, Serve ads, Define delivery rules and Track campaign performance. 
  7. Broadstreet Ads: Broadstreet is an excellent ad serving platform for SMEs since it is cheaply priced, integrates with WordPress, and offers email newsletters. Broadstreet is the only ad manager built specifically for direct sales teams. 
  8. Inout Adserver: Inout Adserver is an ad serving script developed in PHP & MySQL for personal or small businesses. It allows its owners to start their own revenue generating ad serving business. The powerful dashboard allows complete control from traffic stats to revenue management. Powerful revenue generating add-ons are available: CPM, CPI, CPA, HTML & Time Targeting Ads. 
  9. VASTify: VASTify is a video ad server that enables advertisers and publishers to deliver video ads to their audience. It’s a platform to create, serve and optimize video ads in VAST format.
  10. AdPlugg: AdPlugg is a next generation, cloud based ad manager and ad server system for the blogger generation. Easily manage, schedule, rotate and track all of your ads from any source by using your dashboard at adplugg.com.
  11. AdvertServe: AdvertServe is a unified ad serving platform for web, mobile, email, and video. It helps businesses gain insights into performance using an analytics suite and add functionalities to programmatic offerings in real-time through server-to-server integrations.
  12. AdSpeed: AdSpeed is an independent ad server and ad manager. You enter ads from your advertisers with targeting criteria into our system. We serve ads, track and report real-time statistics about ad impressions, clicks, revenue, and conversions. You manage your ad inventory through our user-friendly interface. 
  13. Epom: Epom is an Ad Server for Publishers and Ad Networks. Epom makes ambitious advertising simple. Epom combines flexibility and care to create a comfort zone for your ad business growth, regardless of its type.
  14. AvidAdserver: AVID is an industry-leading Third Party Ad Server platform used to store, manage, display, and rotate ads for online ad campaigns.
  15. Adspirit: AdSpirit is an ad serving system, a professional ads server providing all of the important functions. It is stable, flexible and allows very efficient ad management.
  16. Kevel (AdZerk): Kevel is a cloud-based ad server development platform for engineers and product managers (PMs). The platform offers various Application Programming Interfaces.
  17. Smart Ad Server: Smart AdServer is interconnected with the APIs of several performance-based marketing companies, affiliation platforms and ad networks.Get campaign statistics in real time, directly from the interface. 
  18. Zedo: Zedo’s servers send advertisements to users’ browsers. Zedo uses an HTTP cookie to track users’ browsing history resulting in targeted pop-up ads and pop-under ads.
  19. Adhese: Adhese offers the possibility of enriching ad requests on the server. This allows a publisher to attach data to an impression without needing to make this available in a browser or application, making it a powerful and safe alternative to cookies.
  20. Nativo: Nativo is the leading advertising technology platform for brand advertisers and publishers to distribute, optimize, and measure native advertising. 
  21. dJAX Adserver: djax adserver technology solutions is the best ad server software solutions provider for display, mobile, video and native advertising with DSP and SSP.
  22. EXADS: EXADS builds powerful white-label ad-serving platforms, customized to the smallest detail for advertisers, publishers, ad networks and agencies. Our solutions provide all the functionalities necessary to maximize revenues while our teams provide all the support required to achieve this. 
  23. DoubleClick Campaign Manager (DCM): DoubleClick Campaign Manager (DCM) – also known as Campaign Manager 360 – is one of the most widely adopted buy-side servers for advertisers and ad agencies. Offering an easy-to-use interface, DCM allows users to launch new ad campaigns within mere minutes and make real-time updates. DCM serves to centralize and streamline the ad-serving process.
  24. AdButler: A technological business called AdButler has been active in the ad tech sector for more than 20 years. In addition to a self-serve marketplace, a programmatic SSP, and a full-stack platform appropriate for all ad formats, it also provides.The flexible price options offered by AdButler start at $109 and depend on the number of ad requests. Other advantages include premium live support, sophisticated targeting, and solution customization. AdButler is a very competitive player since it is ideal for publishers of all categories and levels.

3 thoughts on “What Is An Ad Server”

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