What Is an Ad Network?

An ad network is an online advertising technology that sits between ad supply sources and ad demand sources. The purpose of an ad network is to facilitate transactions between advertisers and publishers in order to fill ad space that is not filled by direct purchase. The ad network aggregates available ad space and matches it to advertisers in a way that benefits both the publisher and the advertiser. This typically comes at lower cost than a direct purchase of ad space, but with less control over where and how an ad is shown. 

How do ad networks work?

Ad networks are connected to publishers and websites in order to keep track of unsold ad space. Advertisers use the ad network’s interface to create a campaign that includes information about budget, target audience, and other parameters. The ad network then searches for matches between advertiser campaign needs and unsold ad space on the sites to which it is connected. When matches are found, the ad network facilitates the transaction and the ad is served on the publisher’s site, then tracks the performance of their ads. In turn, ad networks make money by taking a cut of the amount paid to the publisher.

Why are ad networks important?

Ad networks are an important part of the online advertising infrastructure because they help to connect unfilled supply with unfilled demand and automatically facilitate transactions. In other words, they help publishers increase their ad revenue by filling unsold inventory and help advertisers by automatically matching them with ad spaces based on their campaign needs. Without ad networks, ad transactions would have to be handled individually, costing both parties time and money. 

Benefits of an ad network

For publishers, the main benefit of an ad network is that it fills unsold ad space and increases ad revenue. Selling ad space through an ad network is simpler and more reliable than attempting to sell ad space directly. Advertisers benefit from using ad networks because it connects them with publishers. This increases the potential scale of campaigns, saves time, and centralizes the reporting and management of the campaign. Advertisers may also pay cheaper prices compared to direct ad placement.

Types of ad networks

There are several types of ad networks that vary based on who they partner with and how they place ads. The main types of ad networks include:

Horizontal Ad Network – Horizontal networks offer high volume ad placement into a wide range of inventory. This offers advertisers high reach, at a lower cost, but offers less control over who sees the ads.

Premium Ad Network – Premium ad networks offer premium placement at a premium price. They connect advertisers with well-known publishers. They ensure high visibility and quality traffic, which will come at a higher cost to the advertiser. 

Vertical Ad Network – Vertical ad networks are focused on one topic or industry and connect advertisers with publishers who specialize in that topic. This helps advertisers reach a specific audience and remove uncertainty about where their ads will be shown.

Inventory-Specific Networks – Inventory-specific networks focus on a specific type of inventory (i.e., video, display ads, or mobile ads). This allows advertisers to focus on the types of media which work best for their campaign.

Ad network examples

Ad Cash – Ad Cash is a global ad network that offers a wide variety of inventory and ad placements. It is known for being user-friendly, with good customer support. It specializes in technology to reduce ad fraud and bypass ad blockers.

BidVertiser – BidVertiser is another option for publishers. It is unique because it incorporates a bidding system that helps publishers get the highest revenue for each ad placement. It also pays publishers additional money for each conversion created by the ad.

PopAds – PopAds specializes in pop-under ads which are an ad type that opens a separate window, but places the window behind the active application. This makes it less intrusive than other forms of advertising. They also set themselves apart by offering instant approval and carrying no minimum traffic requirements. 

Media.net – Media.net is an established ad network with many well known publishers. It is supported by Bing and Yahoo and can place search ads in addition to regular ad formats.

Adsterra – Adsterra is well established and has a large network of advertisers that give publishers a 100% fill rate. They can serve any major ad format, including native ads, video ads, pop-unders, and in-page notifications.