Ad Exchange Resource Center

What are Ad Exchanges?

Ad exchanges are large digital marketplaces where publishers sell their digital ad inventory to media buyers (advertisers) - it's sort of like a stock exchange but for ads. Most of these sales occur via real-time bidding (RTB) auctions. In other words, the buying and selling of ad inventory on ad exchanges is done programmatically.

The Complete Guide to Ad Exchanges for Publishers


A comprehensive guide to ad exchanges for publishers.

Read the Guide

Different Types of Ad Exchanges
and How they Compare

Open Ad Exchanges

The most common ad exchange you should know is the open ad exchange. But an open ad exchange is not exactly a type of ad exchange, but more like a type of deal available on ad exchanges that offers access to broad demand. 

Mobile Ad Exchange

Mobile ad exchanges are a marketplace that connects app developers with advertisers interested in their ad inventory. While they are not comprehensive ad revenue solutions, mobile ad exchanges can be part of a well-optimized ad revenue strategy.

Read More

Video Ad Exchanges

While most major ad exchanges do video, some focus solely on video. Considering video advertising is one of the best ways for publishers to increase ad revenue, video ad exchanges are a key part of a successful video advertising strategy.

Read More

Guide to Google's Ad Exchange


Google's ad exchange, Google AdX, generates broad demand, making it essential to most publishers' revenue strategies. And it's by invitation only. But smaller publishers can get access through Google partners like Playwire. Learn more about Google Adx and what it means to partner with a Google Certified Publishing Partner (GCPP).

Read the Article

How Simplifies Ad Ops and Maximizes Revenue

The level of access I have to technical support is unbelievable. Making changes to our website that could potentially interrupt our revenue flow is always scary but Playwire makes it seamless.
Tommy Le
Product Manager


Case Study


Increase in average CPMs


919% higher CPMs for Flex Leaderboard.

The Benefits of an
Ad Exchange Platform
and the top features to look for

7 Benefits of an Ad Exchange Platform

Read More


Best Ad Exchanges for Publishers

Ad exchanges, which today are incorporated into other tools like Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) or ad servers, are a good idea for publishers who are interested in increasing their ad revenue. But which ad exchanges are the best for publishers? Here are the best ad exchanges for publishers to work with in 2022.

Read More

Frequently Asked Questions About Ad Exchanges

Why Use an Ad Exchange Instead of an Ad Network?

As a general rule, ad exchanges want publishers to make more money, and ad networks want them to make less. That all comes down to the different ways ad exchanges and ad networks do business between publishers and advertisers. 

Ad exchanges facilitate programmatic deals and take a percentage of the money spent. Ad networks buy publishers’ inventory at low prices and resell it for high prices. You want to sell your inventory for as much as possible, which is why an ad exchange is likely to be more beneficial to you.

What Is the Biggest Ad Exchange?

Because Google is a given in almost every major publisher’s list of demand sources, Google’s AdX ad exchange is likely the largest ad exchange in the world. In truth, you don’t have access to the broadest possible demand if you aren’t working with Google’s products, and that’s why nearly every publisher of note is using AdSense or GAM in some way.

How Do Ad Exchanges Make Money?

Ad exchanges don’t typically charge a monthly or one-time fee to publishers who use them. Instead, they take a cut of each dollar that flows through their programmatic ecosystems. The exact amount varies from exchange to exchange, but as a general rule, ad exchanges make more money when publishers make more money (or when advertisers spend more).

Do I Need an Exchange That Is Dedicated to My Primary Channel?

Not necessarily. While you can derive some benefits from working with, for example, an ad exchange that only handles mobile inventory if you’re an app publisher, it’s not a make-or-break qualification.

Many ad exchanges can handle multiple types of inventory with no problem, and you can always try out the bigger, broader ad exchanges before implementing the smaller, more focused options.

Are Ad Exchanges Dying?

Dying isn’t the right word. Evolving is probably more in line with what’s really happening. Ad exchanges have been around for a while, but now, they are becoming rare as standalone tools. Larger ad tech tools and platforms are acquiring them and rolling them into more comprehensive digital advertising solutions. 

For publishers, this isn’t necessarily good or bad. It’s simply something to be aware of as you start thinking about adding ad exchanges to your digital ad revenue strategy.

Do I Have to Be a Developer to Integrate an Ad Exchange?

While hooking an ad exchange into your overall programmatic setup isn’t easy in general terms, it’s relatively straightforward as far as ad tech tools go. 

Would it be easier to do if you had a deep understanding of server logic and coding? Absolutely. But is that really necessary? Not at all. Ad exchanges have a vested interest in being easy to use, so most have dedicated some resources to creating user-friendly interfaces, detailed instructions, and effective support teams.

What’s the Difference Between an Ad Exchange and a DSP?

Advertisers and agencies use DSPs to connect with impressions that are relevant to their campaigns, and ad exchanges provide access to those impressions. It’s not difficult to understand why the two ad tech terms might get confused — and they often do. 

Think of it like this: A DSP connects to an ad exchange to receive impressions that might be attractive to the advertiser, and then it decides whether to bid on those impressions on the advertiser’s behalf.

What’s the Difference Between an Ad Exchange and an SSP?

SSPs help publishers manage their inventory and send it to various demand sources, including ad exchanges. Ad exchanges, on the other hand, enable publishers and advertisers to buy and sell impressions. Because SSPs handle so much publisher inventory, many have decided to cut out the ad exchange middle man by creating their own exchanges, which is a key reason why these two terms are often used interchangeably.

Who Are the Common Buyers on Ad Exchanges?

As a publisher looking to maximize your revenue, you have a clear reason to want to connect with big brands and companies that can afford to pay high prices for premium inventory. So, are you going to find that kind of demand on ad exchanges?

In general, yes. It depends, of course, on the particular ad exchanges you use, but many of the world’s largest buyers routinely use ad exchanges in their campaigns. 

However, it’s important to note that some of the larger brands prefer to directly interface with premium publishers to purchase the highest-value impressions. This is why ad exchanges are only one part of a complete revenue strategy for publishers.

Do I Have to Manage My Ad Exchanges Myself?

You probably won’t end up integrating just one ad exchange into your list of demand sources. Most large publishers integrate several ad exchanges, among many other demand sources like header bidders. And that can all become a headache to manage.

Do you have to manage it all yourself? Absolutely not. In fact, at a certain point, you have to decide whether you are going to hire an entire team to manage your digital ad sales efforts or outsource the management of the entire operation to a third party like Playwire.

Your Ad Revenue

Accelerate your business and uncomplicate your ad tech stack, because you deserve a partner and a platform that demands more for you.

Get Started