The Publisher ad server is the digital property owner’s perfect solution for third party cookie deprecation and for taking complete control over their advertising business. When major publishers are increasingly focusing on direct deals, premium content providers are getting together to strengthen their offering, and retail media networks are showing their ad revenue capabilities, there has never been a better time for publisher ad servers.
To start with, we should clarify what we refer to as a Publisher in this context. A Publisher is a company that owns one or more digital properties with high traffic and therefore is a good candidate for generating advertising revenue. These companies can be from various industries, as we show further down in this article: media, retail, travel, streaming services, etc.
The Publisher ad server is a self-serve platform that allows its owner to create an enclosed ecosystem, over which they can have full control. Advertisers can create their own accounts on this platform, and access the publisher’s inventory based on the criteria set by the latter.
This type ad serving platforms are sometimes referred to as “walled gardens” and in a previous blog post we looked at the biggest players in the field, like Facebook and Google and showed how the trend was continuing.
Let’s look at some examples from various industries like retail and media. These companies have opened the path for businesses in making the best use of the data and audiences they have.
In retail, one of the major publishers who is using such an ad serving platform is Walmart: “By using our resources to create more meaningful connections between our customers & advertising partners, we’re expanding & enriching our ecosystem for everyone’s benefit.” (Walmart)
The Walmart Ad Center is an easy to navigate self service platform, that offers opportunities to do Display Ads or Sponsored Search:
Amazon Ads, is Amazon’s own self-serve ad platform. It has been a household name for a long time now, and is almost on a par with advertising players such as Facebook and Google. Through its own ad server, Amazon generated 26 billion US dollars in 2021, 37.7 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach 85 billion in 2026 in revenue from advertising sales worldwide.
Amazon's share of digital advertising revenue worldwide from 2020 to 2026:
Source: Statista 2023.
In the media industry, big publishers such as Hulu, have launched their own ad manager, a self-service advertising platform for streaming TV. In this way, they gave access to small and local businesses to advertise potentially next to big brands, for a minimum budget of $500.
Netflix has also been at the top of all news sites since launching its ad supported model, through the use of a third party ad tech provider. The step was taken in order to mitigate the loss of subscribers and provide a new revenue stream for a company that holds an immense amount of data on its users. It has been reported that the company is charging $65 for each 1,000 users reached.
For household names such as the New York Times, having their own advertising platform means that they can give access to businesses of all sizes to have their ads displayed on their digital properties, without compromising on quality. Offering bespoke formats for ad placements, the New York Times ensures a cohesive structure and user experience.
The list of examples could go on, and there are new players taking inspiration from these trail blazers. One of these newcomers is the American City Business Journals. The media company has spread its resources across 40 publications, so having their own self-serve advertising platform would free up those teams while maintaining their advertising revenues.
Traditionally, publishing companies would have sales teams who would be closing direct deals with advertisers. As this process was very manual, tedious, and very often overlooked the potential of small advertisers, they started to look at alternatives to automate the process. This is where the Publisher Ad Server came into play.
Publishers can build their own platform, or they can take a quicker and more efficient route, and use a third party hosted ad server, that is white-label, has self-serve capabilities and can be customized to their unique requirements.
The Publisher ad server acts like an interface between the publisher’s properties and the advertiser. Access to the ad server can be made public, so that any business can create an account on the platform, or can be on an invite-only basis. The publisher is the one that defines the entry requirements for all advertisers.
After they set up their accounts, advertisers can create their campaigns, define their targeting and upload their creatives following the options made available to them by the publishers. Depending on the publisher, advertisers would have various other setup options like conversion tracking, bidding and auction options, automations, minimum budgets, etc.
Once all the steps required are completed, and the ads have been approved, the campaign goes live. The advertisers can monitor their progress and performance to optimize as they go along, with the help of real-time reporting.
Diagram of how a Publisher ad server works:
* Based on information passed through on the ad request and qualifying campaigns on the ad server side, information to display an ad is sent to the website.
The answer is really simple. A third party ad tech provider like EXADS enables publishers to launch their ad server quickly, saving time and money. EXADS’s white label ad server for publishers can be customized to mirror your requirements and your brand. As a hosted solution, EXADS will always ensure that your self-serve platform reflects the latest software updates to keep your business aligned with market forces and the business needs of your advertising clients. This will also save you time and resources in the future.
By choosing a third party ad server, you will not need to go through the process of building everything from scratch. You will not need to hire your own team of developers, and worry about the platform’s maintenance. Your focus will be only on getting advertisers ready to join your advertising platform! EXADS provides the industry leading technology you need, so you can concentrate on biz dev, sales and revenue growth.
Of course, there are some essential factors that you need to consider before choosing the best publisher ad server for your advertising business. Below, we will look at how EXADS can offer you a comprehensive solution.
The flexibility of EXADS ad serving technology means that it is really easy to have your own Publisher Ad Server. Let’s see some of the key features from an extensive list, that can make your ad platform stand out!
Having a self-serve ad platform enables the owner of the platform, in this case the Publisher, to allow Advertisers to create accounts for themselves, set up campaigns, payments, etc., quickly and without help. This is also possible due to an intuitive user interface and exceptional UX design. Furthermore, advertisers are then able to monitor statistics in real-time from customizable dashboards in order to optimize campaigns and increase revenue opportunities.
You can choose the formats that best suit your digital properties from our vast range of ad formats, built to the IAB industry standards and fully compliant with Chrome and the Better Ads Coalition:
Custom targeting: Publishers are in a unique position as they know their audiences best and hold valuable first party data on them. Provided they have consent to use it, their first party data can be used for custom targeting.
With EXADS, you can add any custom targeting option you think is suitable for your Advertisers. For example, users can be targeted based on their interests, demographics, spending habits, or any other criteria. The custom options include:
Example of a predefined range:
Additionally, Publishers can use EXADS advanced targeting options that help advertisers achieve a better message reception, better engagement, and higher conversion rates: Ad Zones, Browser, Contextual, Time Schedule, Device, Location/GEO, Keyword, Mobile Carrier, Operating System, Behavioral Retargeting and more.
Attracting advertisers might be easy when you have a captive audience, or a really strong following. However, Publishers should make their ad servers attractive to advertisers as best they can. One of the ways in which they can increase uptake is by offering advertisers automatic optimizations for their campaigns.
With EXADS, you can choose to let your advertisers avail of the Bidder feature, which intelligently adjusts the bid of the advertiser for ad zones according to how many conversions are received, and block those ad zones that don’t convert. A major benefit of the Bidder is that the advertiser can add as many rules as you need to fine-tune the automation.
You can go further and provide your advertisers with automatic optimizations for their Ad Variations and Landing Pages. All that is required for this feature to start optimizing is the selection of traffic distribution algorithms from a list of options. This feature is beneficial for both advertisers and you as publisher as it will then ensure that the best performing Landing Page or ad variation will always receive the most traffic. This results in a better experience for your audience and a better outcome for your advertisers.
Monitoring the performance of advertising campaigns is crucial not only for the platform owner but also for the advertisers who are looking for a return from their investment. As a Publisher you need to know which campaigns perform well and what it is that your audience likes best.
With EXADS’ powerful statistics you can easily access all the information you need, and allow your advertisers access to the same:
To ensure that your brand and audiences are protected from malvertising or bad practices, EXADS, through its exclusive integration with AdSecure, offers a better way to manage the security and the safety of the ads that are served on your properties.
AdSecure’s 360 degree monitoring and protection helps you automate the ad verification process before the ad campaigns go live and while they are running.
AdSecure detects over 40 violations including:
Serving ads should not compromise a website’s performance or the end user experience. At EXADS we use Web Caching to reduce latency, avoid network congestion and make the web content instantly available.
With this in mind, EXADS applies the following for all the snippets we serve:
EXADS has partnered with secure and reliable payment providers and offer a vast choice when it comes to the available payment options. Advertisers can recharge their accounts through card payments, Wire Transfers or even cryptocurrency transactions.
Through its partnerships, EXADS allows Advertisers to make manual recharges or auto recharges as well as the option to save the card details.
With a well-designed and maintained invoicing system supporting different transaction types, EXADS helps users such Ad Server Administrators, Financial Accountants and Advertisers to monitor each transaction made. It also facilitates many types of financial artifacts such as Proformas, Invoices, Balance Adjustments, Chargebacks, Credit Notes, and Refunds.
There is no doubt that Publisher Ad Servers are on the rise, with more companies who own digital properties starting to see their potential. EXADS’ white-label ad serving technology can provide publishers with a performant self-serve platform that they can start using in weeks. Contact us now to see how we can build and customize your Publisher Ad Server, today!
Product Marketing Manager
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