Advertisers and publishers in the online industry talk a lot about ad serving. Without ad serving,online advertising wouldn’t exist. But what exactly is ad serving?This is a question I hear a lot. What goes on behind the scenes that allow advertisers to showconsumers ads online? It is a simple question, yet one that is often overlooked. Let me explain.There are two main types of ad serving; publisher ad serving and advertiser ad serving. Examplesof publisher ad servers include Doubleclick DART for Publishers, Accipiter Ad Manager, and24/7 RealMedia’s Open Ad Stream. Examples of advertiser ad servers include Doubleclick DART for Advertisers, Mediaplex Mojo and Atlas.In publisher ad serving, an advertiser most likely bought advertising on the publisher’s site andspecified files to be served onto the site. The files are first trafficked on the publisher’s ad server,or when applicable, directly onto the publisher’s site. Trafficking consists of campaign set-up, adcreation and targeting, and creative production and assignment. Once the ads are approved toserve on a specific site, the following occurs:
1.A user visits the site, causing the browser to call the web publisher via a web server. The web server loads anHTML file, the web page the user sees.2.In the HTML file is an ad URL that tells the browser to call the ad server. The ad server selects the correct ad’s filelocation to send back to the browser.3.The browser requests the ad creative from the ad’s file location. The file containing the ad’s creative content issent back to the browser to load.
Between steps 2 and 3, the ad server completes several actions that determine which ads andcreative are selected to serve.
1.The ad call that is made contains a unique ID that is specific to a web page or group of web pages. Snippets of thead URL also include identifiers that are specific to ads, such as size and placement.2.The ad server reads the ID and chooses which ad to deliver based on multiple criteria.
Common criteria include whether the browser is part of any targeting groups, such as geographic location;Whether any rules associated with the campaign assigned to the unique ID apply; The priority of each ad thatmatches delivery criteria (which should serve first); The priority of creative that matches delivery criteria.4.The ad server sends the final selection to be delivered to the browser.5.The ad server sends data to its inventory forecasting, reporting and billing systems to be logged for future use.
That’s publisher ad serving in a nutshell. Of course, ad serving systems differ, but the workflowremains relatively straightforward.Advertiser ad serving depends on publisher ad serving processes but adds tracking functionalitythat easily automates the majority of campaign work. Advertisers running campaigns across