How an Ad Server Works

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How does an Ad Server work?

When a user decides to go online, they type the URL in their browser that they want to visit. The media owner, who owns the website, probably has their site hosted on a shared web server from a company like GoDaddy or Bluehost. These hosting companies allow you to easily install a content management platform like WordPress to build your site.

Server to server connections.

The user’s computer establishes an IP connection with the web server based upon the specific IP address of the user’s computer. The Web server sends content to the user’s computer but with gaps in it. These gaps are ad placements are where advertisements will appear and usually consist of a javascript or iFrame tag that are owned by another 3rd party ad network, exchange or advertiser that is rotating advertisements based on the profile of the user on the page and what they are interested in.

There are countless ad serving companies in the ever expanding digital ecosystem. DigitalAdBlog has curated the top ad providers in one list. Check it out and let us know which ones work best on your website. When the user loads a page, the ad server is pinged and in a matter of milliseconds will look at all available campaigns running in the server, see if there are any category, brand or advertiser blocks, and figure out which ad is most relevant and will pay the most for the publisher.

Back in the stone age..

Back in the primordial soup of digital advertising, ad servers were not as evolved as they are today. Typically, ad servers only scheduled ad’s based upon how many impressions were left to serve by an advertiser. Thanks to the rise of programmatic advertising, the ad tech industry continues it’s trajectory to to over $50 billion dollars in revenue over the next few years.

List of popular ad servers

Here are the most well known ad servers. If you would like to add one to the list, please send us an email.

Google Tiny LogoDoubleclick for Publishers (DFP)
OpenX Small LogoOpenX
AppNexuAppNexus Small Logos
epom small logoEpom
AdZerk Ad ServerAdzerk
Zedo Small LogoZedo
AdGear Small LogoAdGear
Revive Ad ServerRevive Ad Server
Sitescout Small LogoSiteScout Ad Server
Smart Ad Server Small LogoSmart Ad Server
Orbitsoft Small LogoOrbitsoft
AdTech Small LogoAdTech