What is an Ad Server ?

An ad server is a form of advertising technology used by advertisers and publishers to serve ads to potential customers. It’s a web server that stores information on different ads, and shows them to visitors according to targeting inputs. Ad server platform also tracks data such as impressions and clicks which ad server companies or advertisers can use to monitor their ad performance and optimize campaigns. These ad server platforms allow advertisers and publishers to manage ad campaigns in all digital formats.

Ad Exchange Definition

Ad exchange is a digital marketplace where advertisers and publishers may programmatically purchase and sell ad inventory. Ad exchanges serve as a platform for real-time bidding (RTB), allowing ad buyers to bid on ad inventory based on a range of targeting parameters such as demographics, interests, and behavior.

The first ad server was introduced in 1995, and the technology is still used today as it allows publishers to serve ads customized and personalized for different segments, as well as change media types (e.g. text, gif, video). Ad server software is the technological engine that enables advertisers and publishers to optimize, manage, and distribute advertisements across a wide range of paid channels. A hosted ad server is an ad server software platform that is maintained or sold by an advertising network company.

There are two types of ad servers today: first-party ad servers and third-party ad servers. A publisher would use a first-party ad server to manage their ad inventory and display ads on their websites. A first-party ad server is also responsible for targeting and collecting data. On the other hand, an advertiser would use third-party top ad servers to collect ad data, verify information received from the publisher, and change the ad creative.

Google Ad Manager is an ad management platform designed for large publishers with a high volume of direct sales. It supports multiple ad exchanges, ad networks. It offers detailed and accurate controls to manage a significant amount of ad revenue generated by direct deals with buyers. Programmatic ad serving is the automated purchase of digital advertising space, by computers using data to determine which ads to purchase and how much to pay for them.


Other features of an ad server include: geo targeting, frequency capping (limiting the number of times a certain visitor can see an ad), behavioral targeting, and action tracking, among others.