AdTech stands for Advertising Technology that represents an ecosystem of technologies and the associated infrastructure involved in buying, selling, serving, tracking, optimizing, and verifying digital advertisements and campaigns. The primary reason why this ecosystem exists is to facilitate publishers to sell slots on their websites, apps, videos, newspapers, and banners to advertisers so that they can reach their target audience. However, due to increasing customization, and evolving trends, the adtech ecosystem has grown a lot more complex to cater to the varying needs of the different stakeholders.
Table of Contents
- – Introduction
- – Ad Networks, Exchanges, and Ad Servers
- – Programmatic Bidding
- – Viewability, Brand Safety, and Ad Fraud
- – About Symmetriq
There are multiple ways in which ad transactions occur between the buyer and the seller. There are two ways in which these transactions happen.
These are direct channels where publishers sell their ad slots directly to advertisers using their direct salesforce or through a network of partners. A large number of premium publishers manage their in-house direct sales teams to sell premium inventory with white-glove service that is generally not available in the open market.
Publishers came up with a way to sell their unsold ad slots (inventory) to advertisers in a more real-time manner and set the price based on the demand. This means of ad sales gave birth to the first generation platforms called Ad Networks, who ended up reselling the publisher’s unsold inventory.
These Ad Networks primarily lacked transparency because advertisers did not know where their ads are delivering. On the other hand, publishers had little to no control over their inventory and the price points.
Ad Networks, Exchanges, and Ad Servers
Ad Networks aggregate inventory across publishers and add their margins in the ad transaction. The ad slots are bundled based on verticals (e.g., healthcare, automobiles, fashion, technology) or demographics (by country, age, gender) or by ad type (e.g., display, mobile, video, print) or by specific behavioral interests (e.g., pregnant moms, auto enthusiasts, tech evangelists). Some ad networks specialize in specific verticals to cater to the custom requirements associated with that vertical. Examples of some big ad networks are Google Ad Sense, Facebook Audience Network, Apple Advertising, Taboola, Yahoo Network, Tap Joy, etc.
With all the above limitations, a new breed of systems evolved called Ad Exchanges. The Ad Exchanges served as a marketplace bringing the advertisers and agencies onto a single platform. Similar to the lines of Amazon for advertisements.
Supply Side Platforms
To facilitate publishers to manage their inventory in the ad exchanges and other marketplaces, a new breed of systems sprung up specifically to enable publishers, called Supply Side Platforms (SSPs).
Demand Side Platforms
Similarly, Advertisers needed a platform that enables them to efficiently buy from one or more marketplaces, manage their budgets, and reach the right target audience. The systems that tended to the above requirements are called Demand Side Platforms (DSPs).
Data Management Platforms
Both the DSPs and SSPs utilize third-party data to enrich their targeting and products. A set of systems or platforms that managed these third-party data are called Data Management Platforms (DMPs) that sell data to both publishers and advertisers.
Advertisers and Publishers need a technology platform to deliver their ads on different websites, apps, etc., with their creatives and monitor their campaigns. An ad server is a technology platform that is part of the adtech ecosystem to manage and run online advertising campaigns. Ad Servers are responsible for delivering the right ads to the right people based on the campaign configurations.
Examples of Ad Servers are Google Doubleclick for Publishers (DFP), now consolidated into the Google Marketing Cloud platform, FreeWheel for video ads, Open Ad Server by 24/7 Real Media, Atlas from Facebook, etc.
Programmatic bidding is the process of trading ads by two different systems, one on the advertiser side and one on the publisher side. The Ad Exchanges trade ads on an impression level through the process of real-time bidding (RTB), where all parties interested in the inventory submit a bid, and the highest bid wins.
Even though this sounds very simplified, in the real world, multiple advertisers or agencies bid for the ad spot in real-time. The winning bidder delivers the ad to the website user. All of this happens in milliseconds. There are various types of real-time bidding implementations deployed in the wild.
The waterfall bidding is the old school way of ad serving. Waterfall or daisy-chaining is a method to sell the inventory in which the publisher sets the priority of the connected demand partner. The publisher also sets the floor price, i.e., the minimum acceptable price for this ad placement. The demand partners access the inventory based on their priority in the queue. The demand partner who meets the floor price wins the impression.
The demand partners sequentially access the inventory tracing from top to bottom, similar to water flowing down the cliff to the basin. That’s why it’s called Waterfall bidding. The inventor is often going to the one who is first in line, not the one with the highest bid.
Header Bidding is an automated auction enabling publishers to maximize revenue by selling inventory to advertisers/agencies who bid the highest price rather than by their position in the queue. It is a simplified definition of header bidding. In reality, there are a lot more complicated requests all occurring within milliseconds between a multitude of systems.
The primary element in the header bidding is the header code. Publishers place this code in the header of their website. Each time someone visits the website, the browser requests ad serving on a particular page.
Exchange Bidding is now called Open Bidding. The Exchange Bidding is another implementation of RTB but fully managed by Google. Exchange Bidding is a server-side unified auction in which multiple Ad Exchanges and SSPs compete with Google Ad Exchange to win impressions. One of the main advantages of Exchange Bidding over Header Bidding is the latency involved. With Header Bidding, the decision takes place in the user’s browser slowing down the page load even though only a few milliseconds.
Viewability, Brand Safety, and Ad Fraud
Serving an ad to the right audience at the right time only covers half the campaign objective. Providing the opportunity for a user to see the ad is the second half of the campaign objective required to drive ROI for the advertiser. Viewability is a pseudo metric that correlates with the success of the campaign and is a better metric to measure instead of the standard raw impressions.
Half the ad is visible to the user for a minimum of 1s in the display and 2s in the video.
Brand Safety refers to a set of tools, technologies, and processes to protect the image and reputation of the advertising brand from associating itself with inappropriate content. Organizations like the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Media Rating Council (MRC) have been working towards defining brand safety measures and implementing frameworks that can be followed by the adtech ecosystem.
The Brand Safety frameworks ensure that the publishers’ inventory is viewable, follows privacy guidelines, and adheres to placement best practices. On the same note, advertisers have to maintain the authenticity of the brand and specify restricted content for ad guidelines.
Ad Fraud is a process of misrepresentation of an impression to achieve monetary benefits. A type of scam where perpetrators fool the adtech ecosystem to believe that the ad was served or served to a human user but, in reality, the intended human has not watched the ad.
An estimated $7 to $10 Billion is lost annually due to ad fraud globally. Ad Fraud is prevalent across the value-chain, and there have not been any technology advancements available to combat ad fraud at scale without any downside.
Increasingly, ad exchanges, ad networks, and ad servers recognize the costs of malicious activity and have teamed up with third-party platforms that combat ad fraud or have invested in building up in-house teams to detect and prevent ad fraud.
Symmetriq is an Omni Channel Advertising Revenue Management platform allowing you to unify inventory, manage quote to cash, and maximize revenue across OTT, Digital, Linear, and Print in a Single Cloud-Based SaaS Advertising Revenue Management platform. Symmetriq was born out of the need to provide tools, technologies, and platforms to enable media companies to manage and run a profitable advertising business. Our omnichannel advertising revenue management platform is built natively on the cloud leveraging the latest web technologies with the scale being the primary driver without compromising security and compliance that has become paramount in the current privacy-first world. With Symmetriq, you can:
- – Scale your ad sales
- – Streamline your ad operations
- – Reduce your leaky revenue bucket
- – Get complete visibility on your revenue
- – Manage multiple rate cards as your business scales
- – Customize your product catalog based on your business requirements
- – Measure the health of your advertising business in real-time
We help leading publishers across the globe manage advertising business in a single platform enabling them to run a profitable media business. For any queries, please reach out to [email protected].