Why you need an ad server?
For a publisher, it is essential to ensure that the content on the website is fresh, targeted, and of high-quality. The reason is such high-quality websites allow for better ad placements, drive actual sales, and create an impact on the bottom line. Even with the best content and site design, simply running the ads wouldn’t help you generate increasing revenue, your ad management plays a vital role. For an ad inventory to create an impact, proper campaign management and performance tracking are required. This is where ad servers make their way and serve as the core component.
With the real-time bidding, it has become quite easy for a publisher, like you, to get bids from advertisers. But it is, indeed, troublesome to track performance metrics and use it to optimize the ad revenue and user experience. This activity calls for a full-time effort, which can influence your other actions. Hence, there is a need for an ad server that provides you with an intuitive interface to manage and track ad performance, monitor essential metrics, refresh ads, set frequency capping, optimize ad activities and generate ad reports based on parameters such as events, clicks, impressions, conversions, ad sizes and formats, and ROI.
This article provides the list of ad servers (in no particular order) that assist publishers not only in monetizing but also in managing, tracking, optimizing and generating custom reports. We’ve have used a fair share of ad servers in the market ourselves. However, to give more context and use cases, we sourced reviews and rating from third-party platforms.
Best Ad Servers For Publishers
OpenX ad server started as open source self-hosted ad script and turned into a paid ad-serving platform later. It is hugely recommended for large publishers who aim to serve a higher number of bids. Considered as the best ad server, OpenX also provides quality ad marketplace and customizable ad platform for premium publishers. OpenX provides dedicated yield analysts and the best of all customer support for the users.
- Get demand from the programmatic marketplace, which, in turn, increases competition for impressions and CPMs.
- Provides dynamic bids that help in optimizing the value of every impression
- Advanced reporting functionalities that assist in forecasting and achieving maximized returns
- OpenX provides private marketplace so that you can sell premium inventories at the best price.
- Custome reports can be generated quickly in a few clicks.
Is OpenX right for you?
If you are a publisher with a high volume of page views (around 10 million), OpenX is for you.
OpenX sold its Open Source, now known as Revive Ad Server, which is available free (under GNU General Public License). If you are ready to handle the setup hassles, you can go ahead and give Revive ad server a try.
Epom ad servers are cross-platform hosted and SaaS-based ad serving and management solution for advertising ecosystem. Epom ad servers are one of the powerful platforms well known for its white label software that can be customized across every platform, channel, or format. It is for every publisher whether small, medium, and large. Epom ad server is recognized for its uptime and easy integration with all the biggest ad networks and across all formats like videos, display, mobile, and web.
- It is a white label solution and hence a publisher can easily customize it as per the needs.
- It comes with built-in native ad formats, which calls for only one time set up and automatically fits ads in hundreds of placement.
- It comes with a scalable campaign management structure.
- Supports In-app ad serving and comes in four levels of account access (user, supervisor, publisher and advertiser roles) with their specific features.
- It has almost 50 in-built cross channel formats.
- Integrated with multiple ad networks.
Is EPOM right for you?
EPOM is best for publishers who wish to have a highly customizable ad-serving platform. You can pay $250 a month, up to 5M impression/mo to use the EPOM ad server with basic ad formats. To get access to standard formats, you can jump to premium tiers.
Google Ad Manager (DFP)*
One of the best-known and widely used ad server for publishers is Google Ad Manager; previously known as Double Click for Publishers. As a publisher, you look for an ad server that provides flexibility for both remnant and direct inventory, allows ad deliveries immediately, is easy to use, and comes with minimum interferences in monetization. Google ad server is one such advantageous option available in the market.
- It integrates easily with Google Adsense and Doubleclick Ad Exchange, offering the option to maximize revenue from both.
- It allows dynamic allocation and price priority combination to serve ads
- Provides option to channelize remnant impressions so that every impression can count
- Comes with malware detection capabilities that alert about suspicious malware including Trojans, viruses, fake URLs, fake flash files or gifs
- Automatically re-scan the ads intermittently
- It provides a cap on frequency and impressions, to rotate and adjust ad delivery
- The best part of Google ad server is it is free to use (up to certain limit)
Is Google DFP right for you?
This ad server comes in two variations. One for small business and the DFP premium. If you are a start-up or small business publisher, Google Ad Manager (DFP small business) is the best for you. It does not require any minimum traffic and is available free of cost. But, you need to have an Adsense account. To use the DFP premium, you should have 90 million as a minimum traffic requirement.
Here’s the complete guide to help you with Google DFP.
AppNexus is one of the leading adtech company with built-in Marketplace, SSP, and ad server. You can run a single unified auction for all your buyers to intensify the competition and reap better yield from your inventories.
It comes with the analytics tool which crunches the last 2 years datasets to give you the estimated yield and inventory availability. The forecasting is better than the rivals.
- Supports video, display, and native and can be used to serve ads across all screen sizes.
- Open dynamic allocation feature to let your programmatic demand to compete against direct deals.
- Comes with an SSP.
- Premium support.
Is AppNexus ad server right for you?
Without a doubt, AppNexus has one of the best ad servers in the market. If you’re a premium publisher who trades tens of millions of ad impressions per month, you can give AppNexus a try. You’re likely to find a ton of features in AppNexus as it is made for top media publishers.
If you are a publisher looking for a platform that offers full transparency and control, SMART ad server is the ultimate open ad server to choose. It allows publishers to run programmatic as well as direct ads across all formats. SMART offers unified auction capabilities that assist publishers to monetize every ad impression.
- It provides granular reporting, unlike its counterparts, thereby helping in campaign performance optimization.
- It enables you to provide custom ad experiences.
- It also serves as the SSP.
- It comes with real-time analytics that helps in forecasting leading to better revenue opportunities.
- It provides advanced targeting option to target the right audience at the right time.
Is Smart right for you?
If you’re a premium publisher looking to try an ad server, Smart is one of the best servers to experiment with.
OIO Publisher is a self-hosted and a PHP ad server. If you are a publisher with a website built on WordPress, OIO is the ad-serving tool for you. This ad server is best if a publisher is looking to sell ad impressions to advertisers via OIO marketplace. It comes as a WordPress plugin that can be easily integrated into the website and the advertisers can place an order for available ad slots using the OIO itself. To put it simply, you connect to OIO and it allows advertisers to place ads on your website and pays you based on what you earn.
So, OIO Publisher is an ad network as much it as ad server.
OIO publisher is known for its unique benefits for publishers. Some of them include:
- Automatic sell and buy of ads.
- OIO publisher marketplace.
- Handles reporting, tracking, and payments
- Allows creating various kinds of ad zones where an advertiser can choose to display ads specific to each zone.
- It also provides custom widgets, charging modules and pricing.
- It has unlimited website options.
- Provides lifetime support for free.
Is OIO right for you?
OIO is a basic ad server recommended for long-tail publishers who are looking for an ad server, which is a standalone program and can assist in maximizing ad revenue. That being said, you aren’t in control of what’s happening and you can’t connect any other ad networks via OIO publisher.
AdGlare is an easy-to-use self-serving ad server which works out of the box. Though Adglare ad server does not come free, the cost depends on the number of ad requests in a month. AdGlare platform supports rich media, banner displays, and even in-stream video ads. You can see a live demo of an ad server too.
It has all the basic functions you need in an ad server. From ad creative setup to targeting, everything can be done in a few minutes.
- It comes with a well-designed dashboard for users to easily track and manage advertising campaigns
- It has lead conversion features such as geo-targeting and browser targeting to connect with the relevant audience.
- It can be easily integrated with any Content Management Systems and is compatible with many.
- Keep a cap on visitor frequency.
- Allows geo-targeting up to the small location levels such as cities.
Is AdGlare right for you?
If you are a mid-market publisher looking to set up and manage directly-sold ads, AdGlare is the best fit. You can’t connect to any other ad networks to sell remnant inventories, so AdGlare isn’t the ideal choice for one who would like to use RTB/ad networks to earn revenue.
Other than the above-mentioned ad servers, there are many others such as AdZerk (which helps you build your own ad server), AerServ, etc. However, with so many options available it gets difficult to choose the ones best suited to your business needs. Hence, before searching for the right ad server, it is essential to determine your ad serving needs. For example, if you wish to create a video ad, you must look for a server that has the CDN capabilities, built-in formats to serve video ads seamlessly.
We’ll soon release a detailed checklist on evaluating ad server (get notified when we do so by joining our email list). But for now, here’s the simpler version to help you select the right ad server.
- Real-time analytics
- Targeting options
- Cross-device advertising
- Frequency capping
- Automated optimization
- 24/7 technical support