What is an Ad Server? How does Ad Serving Work?

What DoubleClick for Publishers

It may seem like a pretty elementary question, “How are ads served on a website?” The process is quite complex and happens in a remarkably short period of time. There are publishers all over the world that provide the relevant, targeted audience the advertisers are attempting to reach. Then there are advertising exchanges throughout the world, though, where advertisers can target, bid, and place advertising.

What is an Ad Server

Ad servers are the systems that automate the request, bidding, and serving of those ads as well as the reporting on the performance of the campaigns executed. Here’s an overview video from Doubleclick for Publishers (DFP), Google’s Ad Server:

The Ad Serving Process:

  1. A user arrives at your website or app.
  2. Ads are requested from the Ad Server with a list of criteria on what ads are suitable. Criteria may include the size of the ad slot, the date and time of day, and the geographic location.
  3. The Ad Server selects which ads should be served based on the criteria.
  4. The selected ads are returned to the website or app for the user to see.
  5. The Ad Server tracks each time the ad gets clicked.

In order for everything to work correctly, it requires the publisher to define their inventory on the Ad Server, open it up for sale, approve campaigns, measure and optimize the performance to maximize their revenue. Google has put this infographic together, What is DFP? (DoubleClick for Publishers)

What is an Ad Server?