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The humble ad server — it was once a groundbreaking ad tech innovation and has now become the primary mode of delivering advertising on the internet. It may be commonplace, but the ad server remains an extraordinarily important part of web publishers’ revenue strategies.

As is the case with anything that is important to your ability to make a living, you have to make your choice of ad server with extreme care. You need to work with the best and leave the rest for your competitors. 

This post will help you do that. Below, we have compiled a list of the top ad servers for 2022. Read on to learn more.

Choosing the right ad server is hard work, and getting it wrong can have disastrous effects on your revenue. Wouldn’t it be nice if an expert could do it all for you? That’s not a dream — it’s a reality when you work with Playwire. Drop us a line if you’re interested.

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Ad Server: Defined

Ad server, ad network, demand-side platform, supply-side platform — there’s a ton of terminology to nail down in the ad tech world. Let’s make sure we’re all talking about the same thing as we discuss ad servers.

What is an Ad Server?

Put very simply, an ad server is what actually puts advertisements in the places where people will see them online. It’s a piece of ad tech that occupies an incredibly important position in the digital advertising chain of production.

Ad servers contain sophisticated engines tuned to make fast, complex decisions about where to send ads. They work in real time to put an ad inside or near a piece of content as a user is engaging it. Ad targeting information and the results of programmatic auctions are fed into the decision engines to influence the decisions they make. 

Those are the basics, but some ad servers do them better than others, and some do more.

Leading Ad Servers in 2022

With a baseline understanding of what an ad server is and how it works, you’re prepared to begin the process of choosing the server you will use for ads on your website or app. We have outlined eight of the best ad servers in the business below.

1. Google Ad Manager

Once known as DoubleClick for Publishers, Google Ad Manager is an ad server and supply-side platform (SSP) that connects publishers with programmatic demand. It’s a Google product, so it has broad applicability and all the latest tech.

Related: Should you manage Google Ads myself or find a platform or partner that does it for you?

2. Kevel

Kevel is DIY done right. With its ad serving API, this ad server platform allows publishers to build their own completely customized ad server in a matter of weeks. This is an excellent ad server solution for publishers who need something that’s made for them, but keep in mind that you have to have some programming knowledge to build a custom server.

3. Smart

Smart’s ad server allows you to run both programmatic and direct campaigns across any and all channels. This ad server lives on the cutting edge to give publishers access to tech that allows them to truly optimize their yield.

4. E-Planning

Both an SSP and ad server, E-Planning gives publishers a full deck of ad tech to run programmatic campaigns that really drive revenue. E-Planning has been in the ad server business for a while. It’s one of the oldest ad servers around, and that is apparent when you get a taste of this platform’s experience and understanding of publisher needs.

5. Epom Ad Server

Epom is a well-known ad server that sweetens the deal with a total ad management platform. The company even offers a customizable, white-label ad server that you can make yours — branding and all.

6. OpenX

OpenX is one of the better-known names in ad tech, and there’s a reason for that. It’s a huge platform, and ad serving is just one of its many offerings. A somewhat higher price point comes with OpenX’s reputation, but for that, you get extra features like micro-targeting.

7. Revive Adserver

If you’re looking for a free ad server, then this is the one. Revive Adserver is 100% free and open-source, meaning many people can contribute to and modify the original source code. The open-source nature of Revive has given it a lot of handy features like in-depth reporting. It really is free, but that comes with its own cost: you have to know how to actually implement it, and that takes some tech know-how. 

8. OIO Publisher

This is another one for tech-minded publishers, but if you’re up for that challenge, you’ll come away paying relatively little. OIO Publisher comes as both a standalone program and a plugin for WordPress sites, and it costs a fraction of the monthly fee of most other top ad servers.

How to Stop Worrying About Ad Servers: Work with Playwire

You could spend a whole week researching all of the ad servers, and you very likely would still feel like you were taking a shot in the dark. That’s because all ad servers like to call themselves top ad servers, but only a few are the real deal. 

If you’re like many publishers, you’re tired of having to make all of these choices yourself and hope for the best. That’s why so many publishers have partnered with Playwire to amplify their revenue. We’re here to make sure you have access to the best ad servers and make the most out of the rest of your ad tech stack including: incorporating the largest set of advertising demand, integrating the latest technology, and pretty much anything else you need to maximize your revenue. 

Interested? Then your next step is simple: contact Playwire. Reach out online.

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