In the initial days of Display Advertising, First Image Ad was launched just like the Content Image

When Advertiser wants to place his ad on the website, he has to call Publisher and make an agreement to buy the ad space. Publishers make the setup in the website just like a content image. When the page is live and loaded, the ad gets delivered along with content just like an image ad.

This process is a complete manual with the very least ad management system.

Whenever the publisher gets the request to change the advertiser ad, the publisher had to make changes to their live website manually. This process creates a lot of effort every time and is also time-consuming and risky too.

But now, this process is completely changed and there are a lot of things behind the scenes with the help of a new ad tech platform in the process known as Ad server.

This solved many issues for both the players, advertisers, and publishers used to face before the ad server came into the picture.


Before knowing the concept of ad server, let’s understand what is web server is

When a user visits a website, the browser requests media content from the webserver.

Webserver stores the media content.

This web server delivers the media content as per the details in the page request.

Then the user is able to see the media content. All this happens within milliseconds right.

Now ad slots are blank and need ads to be placed
Ad request goes to Publisher Ad server
Ad server delivers the best ad to the respective ad slots

Ad server is just like a web server but instead of media content it stores Advertisements and deliver these ads as per the ad server functionality and serving process along with the campaign details


Ad server is an ad technology software platform that hosts and delivers advertisements.

It helps to manage ad campaigns for both Publishers and Advertisers.

First Ad server was launched in the year 1995 by FocaLink Media Services


Step by step process involved in ad delivery to the website

When the user enter the URL in the browser,

Page request is sent to the web server which hosts all the files of the website

Web server returns HTML file to the browser leaving ad slots for ads

Ad request from this ad slot passes information to ad server which contains HTTP header, IP address, user identifier, ad tags etc

With Ad selection algorithm considering various parameters like Targeting, Price, Line Item Priority, Pacing, Frequency capping, day parting, Exclusions etc. helps to select the best ad to serve

Ad server records the impression for that ad request

Ad server respond to ad request with Creative is added to ad slots, or any additional resources if any like external images or scripts are also downloaded and rendered

Incase if original Creative is at another place like a third-party ad server, the ad request is redirected to the third-party ad server

Third-party ad server records impressions

Original Creative is rendered to the ad slot

Some of the example lists of Publisher Ad Servers are Google Ad Manager, Smart Ad server, Zedo, Ad Gear, OpenX, AOL, AppNexus, Rubicon, Verizon


Let’s understand the functionality of ad servers

Defining and Managing Inventory: Publisher ad server helps to manage their inventory across Many advertisers

Create Placements
Ad trafficking
Campaign Optimization
Various targeting options
Creating new ads


Some other functionality of Ad server are

Forecasting: Helps to forecast and predict ad inventory when publisher want to book for advertiser

Ad tag Management

Client Billing: There is the section to bill clients or Advertisers

Creative rotation: Helps to manage multiple ads in a single ad slot

Frequency capping

Competition exclusion

Campaign scheduling

Helps to Integrate with other platforms


Based on Creatives – Ad servers

Ad Servers can be classified based on creatives are

Rich Media Ad servers

Display Ad servers

Mobile Ad servers

Video Ad servers

Native Ad Servers


Ad servers are of two types

One is First-party ad server which is known as a Publisher ad server

Another one is third-party ad server which is Advertiser side ad server

An example of Publisher side Ad Server is DFP Which is Google Ad Manager now, Advertiser side Ad Server is DCM now it is Campaign Manager

In this video, we have discussed on Publisher Ad server and will cover Advertiser Ad Server in the next video

As discussed in the previous video, When the Publisher ad server gets the ad request and doesn’t have the creativity with them, this ad server responds with a request with a redirect to the other ad server which is known as a third party ad server. And it delivers final creative or ad

Advertiser ad servers can be referred to as third party Ad servers because they are the third party to the ad transaction.
Whereas the Publisher ad server is the first party.



With publisher ad servers, publishers are able to get the revenue out of their ad slots having to deal with multiple advertisers and they have complete control on their tracking.

But when it comes to Advertisers, this process is running inefficiently because of many reasons.

Difficulty Tracking performance of ads across multiple publishers

Difficult and manual process involved in resending new creatives to the publishers every next time

Dependency on Publisher data for various metrics to measure the campaign performance

Immediate changes required in the campaign


Simply to explain about third-party ad server

An advertiser can upload creatives at one place

Work across several sellers or publishers to run their ad campaigns


How Third Party Ad Server is helpful?

Ad management and measurement platform for advertisers and agencies
centralized platform for managing online advertising campaigns
Helps in Trafficking, Reporting, Verification, Creatives management, Optimization
Managing accounts, advertisers and access
Track the ads across multiple publishers from a central place

Adding few more

Helps to collect data
Ad Viewability
Cost effective
Reduced page load latency


Some of the examples of Advertiser side ad servers are Campaign Manager, Sizmek, adform, flashtalking, adzerk

Just to serve a single Ad, do we need all these complexity setups?

Yes Because, as the business grows or Publishers and Advertisers in the ecosystem, they maintain one to many relationships with other players. So to make the process efficient, these ad servers are helpful.

Publishers ad servers helps to connect multiple advertisers and manage their Ad Inventory

Advertisers with the help of advertiser ad server manage media buying across multiple Publishers


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