The online display advertising market

The online display advertising market

If you looking to run online display ad campaigns here is a summary of the market place.

The market is made up of quite a few sectors and players – see below. I will try and talk you through it below.

online display market

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Think of the online display market as 2 sides; the advertisers and the publishers. Advertisers are businesses like you trying to drive online traffic to your site, and publishers are the millions of sites out there like yours that are happy to host ads on their pages for additional revenue. OK, between the two sides are a bunch of services.

Right in the middle are the ad exchanges and ad networks; companies that act as platforms to place ads out to sites (and pay out revenues) and receive orders from advertisers. There is huge overlap between networks and exchanges, but essentially let me point out the main differences below.

Ad networks

Ad networks essentially collect ad space ‘inventory’ from a seemingly infinite number of websites and publishers. They came about as a way of providing scale to advertisers who wanted to advertise en-mass. Ad networks are not created equal. Some choose to focus on reach and quantity while others boast the quality of the spots they sell.

Ad exchanges

Ad exchanges are like the stock exchange – platforms to increase the efficiency of advertisers search for sites and placing ads.

So the difference between the two?
An ad network is more like a closed group of sites, and an ad exchange is more like an open network where advertisers (and publishers) to see a much wider market of options.

However, ad networks often come to ad exchanges to buy bulk ad impressions to re-sell, which does create a level of inequality in the ad exchange market, so you can see how it all overlaps a bit. Overall, an ad exchange can be seen as offering variety, while ad networks offer specialized groups of ads that cater to a marketer’s needs.

Vertical and horizontal ad networks

An easy one – vertical focusses on a certain segment or industry, horizontal goes across all

Demand and Supply side Platforms

OK, this is easy as well – Demand Side Platforms or DSPs or companies that will plug in to exchanges and networks and act as optimisation gurus for advertisers looking to get the most effective advertising.

SSPs does the same for publishers to maximise revenues from inventory they sell on their sites.

The rest in my image is relatively explanatory. Agencies are like us – your interface to this market, and can often offer the full ad service; creative build and ad buying.

Some of things to think about when running online advertising campaigns

A short list:

  • Your budget
  • What is an acceptable CPM. Most campaigns will be paid on a Cost per 1000 basis (CPM) and you or the agency will need to model out what your click through rate (CTR) could be, and your site conversion rate to generate revenue could be, so you can work out the potential profitability of the campaign, or at least the break even point. Unlike Google Paid Search with its CPC charging model this market is mainly CPM so you need to test small to start with or just can find money being spent for no effect.
  • Developing good creative ads. Ideally animated across 3-4 slides, with simple messaging and a clear call to action
  • Your ad network. The agency will recommend, but some of the bigger players are the Google Display Network and Google’s Double Click Bid Manager.
  • The remnant market. Here you can buy unsold inventory for a fraction of the price, and well worth a look because you can still get all the targeting you need.
  • Targeting. The segments relevant to your business. There are several levels – contextual targeting, site targeting (if not a ‘blind network’), behavioural advertising and any mix of these)
  • Remarketing. Having code on your site to place a cookie on the visitor to them hit them with a different set of ads
  • Selling your site inventory to part pay for the campaigns. Depends how precious your page space is and how commercial you are prepared to let it look

So just a few things and there’s much more, but it’s an exciting and constantly changing marketplace and becomes a bit addictive when you get involved!



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