What is an Ad Network?
An ad network is a company that connects advertisers to websites that want to advertise. The main function of the Ad Network is to summarize the advertising space offers of publishers and to match the demand of the advertiser. The term “Ad Network” itself is media neutral in the sense that there may be a “Television Ad Network” or a “Print Ad Network”. The term “online ad network” is increasingly used, as publisher ad spaces and sales to advertisers are most frequently displayed online. The basic difference between traditional media ad networks is that an ad network uses a central ad server to deliver ads to consumers, enabling targeting, tracking, and reporting of impressions in a way that is not possible with analog media.
What types of ad networks are there?
There are several criteria for categorizing ad networks. In particular, the company’s business strategy and the quality of traffic and network inventory can serve as the basis for categorization.
Based on the business strategy
Online advertising networks can be divided into three groups based on their collaboration with advertisers and publishers:
- Vertical networks: They present the publications in their portfolio and provide the advertiser with complete transparency about where the ads are placed. They typically promote high-quality traffic at market prices and are widely used by brand marketers. The economic model is usually a share of turnover. Vertical networks offer run-of-site (ROS) advertising across specific channels or offer location-wide advertising opportunities. In this case, they work similarly to publishing companies.
- Blind networks: These companies offer good prices to direct marketers in exchange for marketers losing control over where their ads are placed, although some networks offer a site-opt-out method. The network usually runs campaigns as a RON or Run-Of network. Blind networks achieve their low prices through large bulk purchases of typically residual inventory combined with conversion optimization and ad targeting technology.
- Targeted Networks: These networks are sometimes referred to as “Next Generation” or “2.0” networks. They focus on specific targeting technologies such as Behavioral or Contextual that have been integrated into an ad server. Target networks specialize in using clickstream data from consumers to increase the value of the inventory they purchase. Other specialized targeted networks include social-graph technologies that attempt to increase the value of inventory by connecting to social networks.
Mobile and video ad networks
An ad network often supports a wide range of ad formats (e.g., banners, native ads) and platforms (e.g., display, mobile, video). This is true for most ad networks. However, there are also ad networks that focus on specific types of inventory and ads: Mobile advertising networks focus on the traffic generated by the mobile web and mobile apps and work with the appropriate ad formats. Video advertising networks deliver ads through the inventory associated with online video content. Video and mobile advertising networks can be purchased by larger advertising companies or operated as stand-alone units.
What are the potential issues?
- Positioning: Most ad networks do not provide impressions per site. This means that advertisers or media agencies are not sure where their ads will be placed. This can be a dangerous suggestion if your ad appears on the site you don’t want to be linked to.
- Malware: Some advertising networks are involved in the spread of malware because malicious advertisers can easily buy inventory across their partner sites.
- Ad relevance: In most cases, the ads are not relevant to the content of the site. In addition, the ad servers on these ad networks (the server system that turned off the ads) do not have intelligent context engines built in.
Online advertising networks and publishers
Most online ad network platforms offer website owners and marketers the opportunity to sign up as advertising publishers. Publishers can then place ads that are shared by the ad network, and revenue is shared between the ad network and the publisher. If new entrants cannot meet the minimum criteria for publishing ads, ad brokerage services could prohibit the publisher from doing so because it does not meet the requirements.
Some networks have strict conditions, while there are other alternatives to advertising. Sometimes commissions vary what is otherwise sold to earn a good commission when the criteria are met. To be approved as a publisher for the best advertising platform, a thorough process is necessary. Websites with a clean interface, more traffic and commitment are preferred by the advertising platforms as ad network publishers.
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