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Ad Server Information

What is an Ad Server?
An Ad Server is a web based tool used by publishers, networks and advertiser to help with ad management, campaign management and ad trafficking. An ad server also provides reporting on which ads served on the website. Finally an ad server serves the creative: this means that the ad server or ad serving company also delivers the advertising image or picture to each user's browser.

What are the other names for an ad server?
Ad Servers are also called Ad Management Platforms, Campaign Management platforms, Ad Serving Systems, Ad Platforms, Ad Tracking Systems, Advertiser management systems, Mobile Ad Servers, Video Ad servers, Click Tracking Systems, Ad Network Optimization Systems, Yield Management Platforms, Affiliate Tracking Systems and Click Trackers.

How is an Ad Server different from an Ad Network?
An Ad Network is a company that works with a group of Web sites and sells advertising for them. An ad network may sell ads for a certain type of sites like travel sites or it may sell ads for many different types of websites. An ad network sells advertising to advertisers while an ad sever is a technology that publishers and advertisers use. Ad networks also use an ad server. Sometimes a company that runs an ad network may also sell ad serving solutions to publishers.

What are the various types of Ad Servers available?
There are Ad Servers that are designed for :

  • Ad Servers for Publishers - These ad servers are designed to maximize ad revenue for the publisher. They do this first serivng the highest paying ads then the next highest paying ads that are available for each web visitor. Ad Severs make it easy for the publisher sales team or the trafficking team to start a new advertiser serving on its site and to monitor how well that advertiser is doing.
  • Ad Servers for Advertisers, Marketers or Agencies - These ad servers help advertisers in campaign management. Rather than send copies of each piece of creative (i.e. each ad) to each publisher on a media buy, agencies can send a line of html code to each publisher. That line of html code calls up an ad directly from the ad server each time an ad neeeds to be shown on the website. The agency loads the creative to the server once and can modify rotations or add new units on the fly without needing to re-contact the websites it is buying impressions from.
  • Ad Server for Ad Networks - These are very similar to ad servers for publishers but provide additional features that show the ad network on which publisher they are making money and on which publishers they are not. They also provide features for each publisher that is part of the ad network to login to see how much they have earned each day.

Ad Sever Features (mostly publisher ad server features)

  1. Impression, click, or action goals. Campaign stops when a particular goal is reached. This is important, because advertisers almost never pay for over delivery.
  2. Scheduling by date, day of week, and time of day. Campaigns can be scheduled to run, for examples between Jan 15 and May 28 Monday-Friday during office hours (relative to your server time).
  3. Automatic Optimization. The ad server should automatically choose the best performing ads for each channel and serve more of those. You can choose parameters such as whether the performance should be all performance or only performance in the last week or whether a good performing ad should serve a 100x more than a poor performing ad or just 2x or more.
  4. Even or Speedy delivery. Most advertisers prefer campaign impressions to be delivered evenly throughout the campaign. Sometimes, however, you might have to serve a campaign as fast as possible.
  5. Support for third party ad tags. Publisher ad servers should have upload templates to easily upload ad tags from major advertiser's ad servers or the ad servers used by major ad networks.
  6. Support for 3rd party click tracking and cache busting. Most ad servers support 3rd party click tracking. By inserting a click-command, which might look like %%CLICKLINK%% into the 3rd party code, one can track clicks on 3rd party Flash and Rich Media ads. Documentation for click-tracking should be provided on how to work with most 3rd party ad tags. Cache busting insures that the ads are not stored in Web Servers' cache, but are requested from the 3rd party ad server each time. This is done by appending either a random number or a time stamp to the ad server. Once again, most ad servers do that. However a clear documentation should be provided.
  7. Frequency cap: limiting the number of impressions per user per set time period, usually by day but could per 3 days or per week or per hour.
  8. Geo targeting: targeting by geographic location, such as Country, State/Province, DMA (Designated Metro Area), City or Zip/postal code. This is done through a process called "Reverse DNS Lookup". The user’s geographic location is determined the users IP to a geo-location database. Most popular providers are: Quova, MaxMind and Net Envoy.
  9. Other Targeting: Browser language targeting, time of day targeting, dial up or broadband targeting.
  10. Behavioral targeting: Targeting by a user's past behavior. E.g. target users who have previously visited finance sites or real estate sites. Retargeting ad serving is a version of behavioral targeting.
  11. User Registration Targeting: Allows targeting to demographic data like age or gender or any other key value pairs. Ad Servers often allow you to create many key value pairs. The site should be able to pass user registration data to the ad server either as a parameter in the ad call or in a cookie.
  12. Rich media. Support for large ads that appear above the content, or ads that expand when the user mouses over them. Some ad servers charge extra for these ad types and some don't.
  13. Serving Ads in Flash. Some sites or games are all flash. Standard ad tags don't work in flash. The ad sever needs to have a .swf ad tag as well as an html ad tag if they can support the serving of ads in flash.
  14. Online Reporting. Impressions, clicks, and actions broken down by site, campaign, creative (ad), geographic location, etc.
  15. Reporting to Cell phones. Get reports on impressions, clicks etc to your cell phone by sms.
  16. Ad Hoc Reporting: Ad servers often allow you to create your own reports. For example can say put the name of the advertiser in the left column, put the channels across the top of the report and show impressions in the center or the report.
  17. Action tracking. Most ad servers track post-click actions, such as leads, sales etc that happen after a user clicks on an ad and goes to the advertiser's site. Some ad servers also track post-view actions, i.e. actions that happen after the user sees an ad, does not click, but later fills out a lead form or purchases a product on the advertiser's site.
  18. Inventory forecasting tools. Some ad servers employ sophisticated algorithms to predict availability of inventory based on the weekly traffic patterns as well as campaigns that have already been booked
  19. Technical Support and Customer Service. A 24/7 technical support team that is knowledgable and that would assist customer to get an advertiser's ads running.
  20. Ad Network Optimizaton. Advanced ad servers should be able to automatically send impressions to the network that pays the publisher the most money. The ad server should automatically get data from the network so that it knows which network is paying more per ad size, per country and per part of the site. It is much easier to have the ad network optimization technology built into the ad server - othwerwise you will have to pay 10% of your revenue to another company to optimize the ad networks you sell to.

I hear a lot about Video Ad Servers. What is that all about?
Video Ad Server is an ad server designed to help premium publishers serve ads inside flash video players. Serving ads inside flash is difficult. Serving ads inside video players is more difficult. This is a growth pat of the market and selling pre-roll video ads is very profitable. If you have videos on your site then you may need this. Be careful as some ad server try to charge 10 or 50 times more for video ads- but others include video ad serving at the standard price.

What is a self service ad server or a self service advertising platform?
This is a separate interface that goes on the publisher's site. It usually looks like the publisher's site and it allows advertisers to buy advertising from that site without talking to a sales rep and just using a credit card. Google makes over $5bn per quarter by selling ads from it's self service ad platform. Other sites are now also making significant revenue by letting advertisers do all the work and buy ads with a credit card.

What is a good Ad Server
ZEDO, Inc., is an Internet ad serving company that has been offering a variety of products and services to web sites, advertisers and networks for 10 years. ZEDO, now the largest privately held ad server in the US, focuses its technology on maximizing revenue for web publishers.

ZEDO sits in the premium sector of the Internet advertising landscape and believes that technology can increase the quality of ad impressions and therefore the revenues that publishers earn from advertising.

ZEDO offers several technologies to increase publisher revenue including: cutting edge behavioral targeting, ad network optimization that calculates which ad network will pay the publisher the most, ad serving in flash video players, a widely acclaimed easy to use ad serving UI, a self service advertising technology and new formats to attract advertisers in any market conditions.

For more information contact or call 415.348.1975.