Illustration of how ad servers work

Ben Silverstein
A free video tutorial from Ben Silverstein
Digital Advertising Professional & Entrepreneur in NYC
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Digital Advertising & Marketing 101: Take The Complete Guide

Top Digital Marketing Course | Facebook Ads, Google/YouTube, Display/Video & more|Grow your career (German/Portuguese)

01:21:24 of on-demand video • Updated May 2020

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English - Okay, now that we have a chance to talk about ad servers, we're gonna illustrate the actual process going with the process without an ad server and the process with an ad server. So if you're an advertiser, and you have four different ad units, here you've got some 20 by 90, 160 by 600, and two 300 by 250, so a total of four, without an ad server, you have to individually send each of these files to each of the websites that you're working with. Now, in this case, we're talking about a pretty small campaign. Four ad units, five websites, but, you can see that this is a lot of work, a fairly tedious process. And every time you send one of these, there is a chance that it could get lost, it could get corrupted, it could be missed, it doesn't work right, and you have to go back to each individual string and say, what happened, where was the issue, and how can we fix it? Not very easy. Also, when it comes to reporting, it becomes complicated because you said, okay, we sent all that out there, now we gotta make sure that they actually ran it. So you go to ESPN, AOL, CBS, New York Times, Deadspin, and you say, guys, can you send me a report? I want to see the impressions, I want to see the clicks, conversions, whatever it might be. So they all send it back. It'll probably all be in different formats. They'll be, maybe, by day, maybe by month, maybe a campaign. Everyone's different. You gotta compile it, and put it all together into one, easy to read report. However, maybe Deadspin messes up. Maybe, they were supposed to run a million impressions, and they only ran five hundred thousand. But if you have no other way to tell, Deadspin, if they're feeling greedy, might just say, yeah, just tell them we ran a million impressions. They won't know. Not a very good system. Now, if you have an ad server, same websites, same ad units, but instead of sending it individually to every site, you send it one time to your ad server, then you create a package, and send that package to each of the websites. Much easier for the advertiser because you send it one time to one person, and let them take care of trafficking to everybody else. Now, when it comes to reporting, the ad server will automatically pull in reporting from all these different partners, so you don't have to request it from any of your partners, you request it from the ad server. So, if Deadspin only ran five hundred thousand impressions, you'll know because you ran it from the ad server. And when you use an ad server, you use it for billing, so you bill off of those numbers. If ESPN was contracted for a million, and you check with your ad server, and they ran a million, great, you pay them in full. If Deadspin only ran half, then you check, you only pay them in half. Another great thing for an ad server is that you change creative. So in this situation, we had version A and version B, 300 by 250. Well, lets say version A isn't doing that well. So, we want to ad a new one, version C. If you're up here without an ad server, now you gotta re-traffic back to all of your websites. And then same thing with the reporting. You don't really know. With an ad server, all you have to do is, on the back end, say, we're going to take out A, we're going to switch in C, and that's it. It'll automatically populate with all the websites. You could pull the report out of your ad server. You can see how did C do compared to A and compared to B. You get all the data you need in one place. So, if it's not obvious already, ad servers provide an immense value to every digital advertiser.