Blog


View all posts

Things to Consider When Choosing an Ad Server

Posted on
By , AerServ Team


Choose-Right-Ad-Server

When a publisher chooses an ad server they should take their time to properly evaluate the options and choose the one that offers the features they need within their budget. What each publisher needs varies and one ad server may be a good fit for one publisher while a different one may require different features, so they may go with a different solution. Some of the things a publisher should consider when choosing an ad server are:
Can you traffick campaigns by uploading your own assets
What type of ad server features are offered (targeting, pacing, etc.)
Cost
Ad unit types supported
Do they offer RTB and Private Exchange/Marketplace functionality
How large is the company and how long have they been in the market
What are their reporting capabilities
How is their UI – is it intuitive and easy to navigate
How stable is their product
Do you have to use their SDK
Is their mobile product strong or are they focused on desktop
Customer Support

Can you traffick campaigns by uploading your own assets
Can a publisher upload their own campaign assets (creatives, videos, etc) and run a campaign or are they limited to only using ad tags? In addition to uploading their own assets, a publisher should be able to enter in their own tracking pixels.

What type of ad server features are offered (targeting, pacing, etc.)
Can you geo target down to the city and zip level, can you target by device model, can you target by demo categories (gender, age, etc.), can you set the times of days you want the ads to run and can you control how often a user sees an ad?

Cost
Some ad servers only charge a per ad serving fee, while others charge a setup fee, a monthly minimum fee and an ad serving fee based on usage. So make sure you know exactly what the charges will be before you commit to a contract.

Ad unit types supported
Do they support banner, video, interstitial, MRAID, VPAID, etc. Some ad servers only support video or banner and for those that support both do they offer ad failover between the different ad unit types if one does not fill?

Do they offer RTB and Private Exchange/Marketplace functionality
Some ad servers function like a Real Time Bidding (RTB) environment while others offer this as a separate option. In addition to offering a regular RTB product, do they also offer a Private Exchange/Marketplace product where you can choose which advertisers can bid on your inventory?

How large is the company and how long have they been in the market
There has been much consolidation in the market over the past few years and many larger companies have purchased smaller ones. This has increased their resources but has typically come at the expense of customer service. Also, the larger companies are less flexible and willing to work with smaller to medium size publishers to solve their issues or add new features they request.

What are their reporting capabilities
How often does their reporting update, is it close to real time? Do they allow you to customize the reports so you can extract the data you really want and need or are you limited only to canned reports they provide?

How is their UI – is it intuitive and easy to navigate
How easy is it to navigate around their UI and find the information you want? Is it easy and intuitive to set up new campaigns and use all of the products and features offered? A confusing UI can be a further negative if the customer service is also poor and their is limited documentation on their UI.

How stable is their product
Companies that have been in the market longer tend to have more stable products. You may need to check with other companies who use or have used their service to get an accurate pulse on how stable their products are. The stability check should include their SDK, ad server up time, reporting accuracy, etc.

Do you have to use their SDK
Some companies require you to use their SDK to access all of their different ad unit types and some even have proprietary ad unit formats that are only available through their SDK. Requiring the use of a SDK is not always a negative, but you should be able to use their product in some way without being locked in to using their SDK. You should also check on the size of their SDK and how it will affect your overall app size and functionality.

Is their mobile product strong or are they focused on desktop
Some companies started out catering to the desktop market and have been slow to move into the mobile space or their products are not as stable and mature as their desktop ones. Make sure the company you choose is strong in the area (desktop or mobile) that you want to run ads in.

Customer Support
This is one area where there is a lot of differentiation within the market. As most companies get larger their customer service tends to suffer, but that is not always the case. Rarely will any publisher get up and running with a new ad server without some issues or questions, and you want to make sure that the company you choose provides the customer service you need to quickly get your questions answered and get you live.

As you can see there are numerous things for a publisher to check on prior to making an ad server selection, and the list above is not exhaustive. Some of the points mentioned will be important to some publishers while others will not be relevant. The important thing is for a publisher to think about the features they must have and then ask questions so they know exactly what is offered by each ad server so they can make the best choice.
 
AerServ SDK