What is an Ad Server?
An ad server is a form of advertising technology used by advertisers and publishers to serve ads to potential customers. It’s a web server that stores information on different ads, and shows them to visitors according to targeting inputs. Ad servers also track data such as impressions and clicks which advertisers can use to monitor their ad performance and optimize campaigns.
The first ad server was introduced in 1995, and the technology is still used today as it allows publishers to serve ads customized and personalized for different segments, as well as change media types (e.g. text, gif, video).
There are two types of ad servers today: first-party ad servers, and third-party ad servers. A publisher would use a first-party ad server to manage their ad inventory and display ads on their websites. A first-party ad server is also responsible for targeting and collecting data.
An advertiser, on the other hand, would use a third-party ad server to collect ad data, verify information received from the publisher, and change the ad creative.
Other features of an ad server include: geo targeting, frequency capping (limiting the number of times a certain visitor can see an ad), behavioral targeting, and action tracking, among others.