Key Points

  • There are countless ad serving platforms, but they aren't all the same.
  • Some are simply higher quality than others, while others are designed for specific types of publishers.
  • Your choice of digital ad serving platform can have a deep impact on your advertising revenue over the long term.

You don't need to choose a digital ad serving platform. You need to choose the ad serving platform - the one that will best serve your needs and help you maximize your online advertising revenue.

But how do you do that? When you're faced with dozens of options, each saying they're the best ad server, as you often are with every piece of technology you'll use across the ad space, how do you truly choose the one that's best for you and your unique needs as a publisher?

There are lots of factors and variables to consider here, and we cover some of the most important ones in the article below. Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to choose the right ad serving platform.

Playwire has built or partnered with the best of the best for every single part of the ad tech stack. The result is one of the most powerful revenue amplification platforms available to publishers today. If you want in, reach out.

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The Complete Guide to Ad Servers

The Complete Guide to Ad Servers

What to Look for in Digital Ad Serving Platforms

While every publisher's needs and preferences are somewhat different from those of the next, there are some universal truths when it comes to what you need from an ad serving platform. Those truths apply to nearly all publishers, regardless of their situation, audience size, or content type.

Here's what most publishers should look for in digital ad serving platforms:

1. Matches Your Technical Proficiency

Your ad server should match your technical abilities. Ad servers are inherently highly technical pieces of the ad tech puzzle, but some tools have made servers very approachable and user-friendly. Meanwhile, others are so complicated that only the most experienced engineers and developers can truly put their ad serving process to good use.

If you have significant development and engineering resources on your team, you may be perfectly fine pursuing an open-source ad server. Open-source ad servers are usually free, but they are nothing more than a piece of source code that you download, upload to your own physical server and configure.

On the other hand, Google ad tools have ad serving baked right in. They have eliminated so much of the complex and technical work that many publishers hardly even realize they are dealing with an ad server as they configure Google Ads to run on their properties.

Each server option has its pros and cons, but the main idea is that you need to choose one that will be easy for you or your team to use. Base that choice in large part on your technical proficiency.

2. Supports Various Ad Unit Types

Maybe you're only running basic display banners right now, but what about three years from now? If you've grown at the rate you hope to, you may be ready to run some premium ad units and bring in equally premium CPMs.

But if you choose an ad server now that can only run display banners, you'll be stuck running display banners until you switch ad servers. And switching ad servers is an unnecessary and difficult task in most cases.

It's unnecessary because many available ad serving platforms can accommodate all kinds of ad units, including video ads, rewarded video, interstitials, and more. 

3. Offers Targeting Based on First-Party Data

Data obtained from third-party cookies is on its way out. Google is phasing it out, and the general opinion of third-party data is waning. That puts the focus on first-party data - data obtained directly from publishers' own users.

You want to - need to - be able to target users if you want to maximize your ad revenue. And you probably won't be able to rely on third-party data forever. That's why it's important to choose an ad server that offers a targeted ads strategy based on first-party data.

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Ad Server Resource Center

The Complete Ad Server Resource Center

4. Provides Detailed Reporting and Analytics

As your audience and ad revenue grow, data and analytics will become increasingly important. While various tools within the typical ad tech stack offer some measure of reporting and data, few can compete with the data obtained by your own ad server, through which every ad unit you serve will run, thus you'll be able to pinpoint very specific elements of your ad performance metrics.

So, opt for a digital ad serving platform that comes with comprehensive data gathering, analytics, and reporting capabilities.

5. Integrates with Your Existing Ad Tech Stack

With so many ad servers available, there's no reason to turn every other part of your current ad tech stack configuration on its head just to accommodate a new ad server. Plenty of server options will play nicely with the tools and platforms you already have in place, and their ability to do so should factor into your final choice at least a little. 

Choose the Right Ad Serving Platform and Everything Else

Here's the thing: You can't really be sure you've chosen the right ad serving platform until you're using it. Here's the other thing: Playwire has been in this business for more than 15 years, and over that time, we have found the absolute best digital ad serving platforms. 

We've incorporated those platforms into our own online advertising platform - one designed to maximize publishers' revenue in every possible way. The result is, frankly, game-changing for the publishers who work with us. 

Want to be one of those publishers? We want to hear from you. Reach out to Playwire to learn more about how we can grow your revenue today.

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