What is: an Ad Server?

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Let’s all just admit it, the ad ecosystem is overflowing with complicated terms, processes, and buzzwords, and we have serious beef with it. This series of blog posts will explain, as simply as possible, some of the digital advertising tools and processes that are notorious for being just plain confusing.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at ad servers and what the eff that even means.

Simply put: An ad server is a software that allows an advertiser to manage ad campaigns, view campaign statistics, and deliver ads across websites.

Based off of this definition one could assume that Choozle, itself, is an ad server. And while your assumption is certainly valid, it’s not exactly correct. To explain further: Choozle is both a data management platform (dmp) and demand-side platform (dsp.) We use one ad server and several ad exchanges and ad networks in order to serve ads.

“Speaking of ad networks and ad exchanges, aren’t they the same thing?”

Ad networks and ad exchanges are very similar, but different, (because nothing is that simple #amiright?) Some say that demand-side platforms (dsp’s) resemble ad networks more than ad exchanges, but that’s for another day. We will, however, briefly cover what an ad exchange is for the sake of clarification.

In other words: Ad servers run on ad exchanges.

An ad exchange is a digital marketplace, (we often compare this to a stock market,) where real-time buying and selling of display, mobile, and video ad inventory takes place. Furthermore, it’s inside of an ad exchange that real-time bidding (RTB) exists. Ad exchanges are what make programmatic so efficient – since you can buy multiple placements at a time, instead of purchasing them one-by-one from each publisher like traditional advertising.

Is all of this starting to come together yet? 

Key takeaway: Choozle uses an ad server, ad networks, and ad exchanges in order to manage, analyze and deliver programmatic ads.

If you have a topic for a “What is?” post, email usAlso, check out this throwback post defining a few commonly used advertising terms and acronyms.