Key Points

  • Today, ad exchanges exist primarily within other tools rather than as a standalone entity.
  • Some of the top tools that have the functionality of ad exchanges include AdX, Verizon Media, Xandr, OpenX, Magnite, PubMatic, Index Exchange, Smaato, and Smarty Ads.
  • When you work with Playwire, you get all the functionality of the best ad exchanges and a litany of other tools in your tech stack covered.

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. That's especially true when you compare them to alternatives like ad networks or simply letting bid requests go unfilled. But which exchanges are the best ad exchanges for publishers?

The answer to that question, of course, will depend heavily on your unique needs. However, we can say with relative certainty that the ad exchanges discussed below are among the best in the business for publishers. Read on to learn more.

Sick of worrying about the latest and greatest in ad tech? You don't have to do it anymore - you just have to work with the greatest ad revenue partner. That's Playwire. Contact us.

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Ad Exchange GuideThe Complete Guide to Ad Exchanges

What Makes an Ad Exchange Offering Good?

Before we get into a list of the best ad exchanges for publishers, we should first understand what makes a tool's ad exchange abilities "good" in the first place. In general, you want to look for the following features in any tool that includes an ad exchange:

  • A large network of advertisers and agencies
  • The ability to control price floors and other aspects of auctions
  • A publisher-friendly user interface
  • Support for high-value, high CPM ads, including video ads
  • A demonstrated history of high CPMs for publishers using the network

The 7 Best Ad Exchange Tools

These seven tools do a good job of meeting all of the criteria described above. In our view, they provide the best ad exchanges for publishers in 2022; however, it's important to keep in mind that these tools are not standalone ad exchanges. Most of them are SSPs that offer an ad exchange. In any case, these are the seven leading the pack:

1. Google's Ad Exchange

Google has its hand in everything related to the internet, and ad exchanges are no exception. Google has built an ad exchange called Google AdX that it offers as part of its Google Ad Manager (GAM) services.

Publisher Benefits:

AdX is a Google product, so it gives publishers access to some of the broadest demand available anywhere. Think about it like this: Everyone, including advertisers and agencies, thinks of Google ads when they think of internet or digital advertising issues, so you're leaving ad revenue on the table if you're not capitalizing on Google's broad reach.

AdX Reviews:

GAM had garnered 4.1 stars on G2 and 8.7 out of 10 on TrustRadius as of the time of publication. Some of the benefits reviewers highlighted included the broad demand and intuitive features like a copy function that allows you to recreate campaigns quickly. On the negative side, reviewers mentioned occasional crashing and latency.

2. Verizon Media

Many publishers may remember Verizon Media's predecessor, Oath. It's still the same massive ad tech company with the same enormous reach throughout the ad space. It's just an ad exchange by a different name - the quality is as high as it once was.

Publisher Benefits:

Verizon Media has invested a lot of money and effort into building relationships with some of the largest demand sources in the world, such as Amazon and Facebook. With that kind of demand funneled into one end of the ad exchange, you're going to want to be on the other end to get some of the revenue.

Verizon Media Reviews:

Puzzlingly, Verizon Media hadn't earned a lot of reviews on popular software review sites as of publication time. The only mainstream site where it had any reviews was TrustRadius. Among 30 reviews, the tool had gotten an average of 5.2 out of 10, with a confusing user interface and lackluster display advertising capabilities driving that score down.

3. Xandr

Like many of the best ad exchanges that made it onto this list, Xandr is typically categorized as an SSP and is the result of several mergers and acquisitions over the years - most notably the acquisition of AppNexus. Potential ad tech monopolies notwithstanding, these types of companies tend to amass quite a bit of demand through an enormous ad network, and that is certainly true for Xandr. 

Publisher Benefits:

Xandr offers most of the expected ad exchange features and benefits, such as broad demand, customization options, and solid CPMs, but it also offers a lot more to publishers who are just starting to put their ad tech stack together. Xandr is also an ad server, a demand-side platform (DSP), and more.

Xandr Reviews:

As of the time of publication, Xandr had a 7.3 on TrustRadius and 3.7 stars on G2. Many negative reviews cited a confusing and sometimes clunky user interface, while positive reviews enjoyed the tool's ability to integrate with various other tools, including DSPs.

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Ad Exchange Resource Center

Check out all the available resources in The Complete Ad Exchange Resource Center

4. OpenX

OpenX, another solution typically categorized as an SSP, is a big name in the ad exchange business, and that is a big part of the reason why this exchange has amassed more than 100,000 advertisers and processes more than 200 billion ad requests per day.

Publisher Benefits:

Demand of this magnitude is hard to come by outside of Google's sphere of influence, meaning one of the biggest publisher benefits of working with this ad exchange is access to nearly unparalleled levels of demand for your ad inventory. On top of that, OpenX remains fully certified by the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG).

OpenX Reviews:

With a 6.8 on TrustRadius and 3.2 stars on G2, OpenX is fairly middle-of-the-road in terms of the best ad exchanges. (Few ad exchanges have consistently high reviews across all popular review sites.) Happy users reported that this tool works with publishers of all sizes and maintains strong reporting functionality. Unhappy reviewers mentioned lacking scale in the sale of video ads and lower CPMs for some publisher ad inventory types.

5. Magnite

Once known as the Rubicon Project, Magnite is a giant in most things ad tech, including ad exchanges. Magnite's ad exchange began as a supply-side platform (SSP) and followed the natural evolution of many SSPs: building a huge network of publishers and their ad impressions, realizing the potential to profit by connecting those publishers directly with buyers, and doing so.

Publisher Benefits:

Magnite has invested heavily in connected TV (CTV) and over-the-top (OTT) channels, meaning this is an ideal ad exchange for publishers who operate on these channels. This platform also offers a readymade header bidding solution (built off of Prebid), so publishers who are open to multi-channel revenue increases may find Magnite particularly beneficial.

Magnite Reviews:

G2 reviewers gave Magnite 3.2 stars on average, while TrustRadius reviewers rated it a 9.8 on average. On the plus side, reviewers liked the global presence Magnite has built, as well as the user-friendly interface. On the negative side, reviewers mentioned low fill rates.

6. PubMatic

PubMatic is a household name among ad tech professionals, and there's a reason for that. This company has innovated in all kinds of spaces for a long time now, and its ad exchange reflects that perfectly. 

Publisher Benefits:

PubMatic goes heavy on ad quality and cutting-edge technologies built around real-time bidding (RTB), which is the tech that powers most ad exchanges. But the platform goes a step further with well-developed private marketplaces (PMPs) that facilitate better ad quality and higher CPMs.

PubMatic Reviews:

With 3.2 stars on G2 and a 7 on TrustRadius, you might not be able to immediately tell that this is one of the best ad exchanges for publishers, but you can see the positives in the reviews. Reviewers mentioned a crystal-clear user interface and high CPMs. Some negative reviews did highlight having trouble getting in touch with customer service, though.

7. Index Exchange

Index Exchange is one of the tools that has remained most dedicated to its ad exchange offering over time. That has translated into a focused offering that works really well for publishers who already have their other ad tech bases covered.

Publisher Benefits:

This tool puts exchange quality front and center, meaning you may not have to go with a private ad exchange or preferred marketplace to ensure high quality if you choose Index Exchange. The tool has also put in the work to facilitate the buying and selling of all kinds of ad inventory, including display ads, video ads, connected TV (CTV) ads, and similar.

Index Exchange Reviews:

Despite being a relatively well-known ad exchange within the ad space, Index Exchange had not made the rounds in the online reviews circuit as of the time of publication. Anecdotally, however, this exchange is easily among the best ad exchanges for publishers.

Work with the Best Ad Exchanges and Everything Else

If you're going to incorporate ad exchanges into your revenue strategy, you need to work with the best. With this list, you have what you need to start picking your exchanges and rolling them into your ad tech setup.

Of course, you can skip all of that and still get the benefits. How? By working with Playwire. Our team handles every aspect of publishers' revenue strategies so they can focus on their content and growing their audience network while their revenue skyrockets. We work with the best ad exchanges for publishers because we put publishers first in everything we do.

Ready to get started? Contact Playwire to discuss comprehensive revenue amplification.

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