About the Series

Welcome to the Ad Tech Build vs. Buy Series. In this series, we’ve tapped the expertise of our team, each of which has years of industry experience working with the pieces of the ad tech stack you’re considering implementing or purchasing.

In today’s entry in the series, we rely on the expertise of Nathan Thomas, our Senior Vice President of Ad Operations. He has over 13 years of experience in ad tech, specifically in helping to manage the technology across the ad tech stack. If anyone can tell you what you’ll need to know to decide on the right strategy for implementing ad serving solutions, it’s him!

Check out all the blogs in this series.

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Ad Tech Stack Pillar

The Complete Publisher Ad Tech Stack: Everything You Need to Know

Considering Ad Server Options?

Digital publishing is a big, wide world with hundreds of thousands of publishers reaching every far corner of the internet, but there’s one thing that unites most publishers: ad servers. These are the things that actually put digital ads in front of your readers, viewers or whatever you like to call them.

Really, an ad server is going to be a major part of nearly any advertising revenue strategy you might undertake. But does that mean you need to find any old ad server and sign up? Not at all — you have choices. There are, of course, multiple ad servers to pick from, but some large publishers have even created their own.

Should you build or buy when it comes to ad serving? Which ad server should you choose? These are some of the questions we answer in the post below. Read on.

At Playwire, we don’t like guessing and hoping for the best. We know you don’t either. We use data, decades of experience and in-depth research to drive every change and innovation we make to increase your revenue. To learn more about working with us, reach out.

Building Your Own Ad Server: Virtually Impossible

This is the build vs. buy series, so we have to address the idea of building your own ad server. In technical terms, it is possible. But in practical terms, it’s about as close to impossible as you’re going to get. That is, unless you’re Time Warner — and if you are, you’re probably not going to find this post very useful.

To put it simply, building your own ad server is a monumental undertaking. You have to build a server that can actually do the work of serving ads. That alone is a years-long, extremely expensive endeavor. Then, you have to make sure it can integrate with supply-side platforms (SSPs) and demand-side platforms (DSPs), build campaign control and tracking functionality and get it approved with major agencies and deal with accreditations.

If you have millions of dollars lying around and plenty of time on your hands, you might consider it. But why would you when there are plenty of viable, ready-made options out there? 

This issue explains, in part, why there are really only a few ad servers of note in digital publishing. There may be too many SSPs and DSPs to count, but you can count the ad servers you’d want to trust with your revenue on one, maybe two hands.

Most Publishers Go with Google

Speaking honestly, building your own ad server is not a good idea. Choice made. But you still have another choice to make: which pre-existing ad server should you use?

The vast majority of publishers go withGoogle Ad Manager. The platform does a ton of stuff in addition to ad serving, and it connects you with broad demand. It’s a solid choice. 

This is probably the point where you start to get annoyed. Even if you decide to go with Google Ad Manager, you have yet another choice to make: should you integrate Google Ad Manager yourself (build) or work with a partner who does it all for you (buy)?

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Learn how LEVVVEL doubled their ad revenue with Playwire.

Build vs. Buy for Google Ad Manager

Let’s break that choice down a bit. To integrate Google Ad Manager, you have to do a little legwork on the technical side. It’s Google, so it’s relatively user-friendly in terms of ad tech, but there’s another issue: if you want to do the extras that really drive revenue, such as header bidding or custom advertising formats, you have to do it yourself.

These are complex functions of ad tech, and there are plenty of ways to break them. That’s where Google Ad Manager can get pretty complicated and start causing some headaches.

Now, let’s look at the alternative. If you work with a revenue partner like Playwire, you can still use Google Ad Manager as your ad server, but you don’t have to do anything fancy. In fact, it’s as simple as adding a bit of code we give you to your site. We take it from there and start growing your revenue so you don’t have to keep worrying over it.

Another important point of consideration: unless you’re a large publisher, you probably haven’t been invited to use Google Ad Manager 360 (GAM360). If you integrate Google Ad Manager yourself, you won’t have access to the full GAM360 offering, which means you’re missing out on advanced features like programmatic real-time bidding. Playwire has access to the premium version, and we share it with all publishers who work with us, regardless of their size.

Alternatives to Total Platform Buy-In

We get it — some publishers want to retain a certain level of control over their ad tech stack. That’s reasonable, and it doesn’t mean you have to go full DIY. You can still work with a flexible platform like Playwire, get all the revenue-boosting benefits that come with that and retain some control over your Google Ad Manager account.

In other words, you don’t have to adopt our entire suite of services. For example, if you have your own direct sales team or would like to maintain control over traffic from a particular part of the world, we can create a custom solution for you. We put publishers first, so if you want to control part of your strategy, you can certainly do that and let us handle the rest.

Ad Serving and a Whole Lot More: Playwire

The nice thing about ad servers is that you really don’t have to worry too much about them if you don’t want to. If you work with Playwire, we’ll handle all of that so you can spend your time on your content. You get maximum revenue and don’t have to so much as think about ad servers.

The other options, building your own ad server or integrating Google Ad Manager or another server yourself, are often not ideal — and sometimes downright impossible — for busy publishers. We’re happy to provide the easier, better alternative. 

Interested in working with Playwire to grow your revenue? Drop us a line. Just contact us online.

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