June 1, 2021

Ad Serving Platforms: How to Choose the Right One

Publishers are busy. They’re preparing for the death of the third-party cookie, growing their subscriber bases, and consistently producing high-quality content.

They don’t have time to deal with sub-par ad server platforms that fail to deliver revenue and can’t integrate with their overall operations.

That’s why it’s so important to choose the right ad serving platform — one that can help seamlessly run ad campaigns, measure performance, and drive engagement across channels. This way, publishers can scale their digital advertising efforts and continue growing their businesses, even as the landscape continues to evolve and user behaviors change.

Find out how you can start placing direct-sold ads in email campaigns and  newsletters. Get a demo.

With that in mind, here’s what publishers need to know about how to choose the right ad server platform.

What are ad serving platforms?

Ad serving platforms automate the ad selling and distributing process. While publishers and advertisers can strike deals directly, an ad serving platform takes the manual labor out of this process, allowing many advertisers to bid on available ad slots. Ad serving platforms are also helpful for running multichannel advertising campaigns, programmatic campaigns, and real-time bidding, stirring up competition between advertisers and generating revenue for publishers.

How does it actually work? On a basic level, a publisher identifies its ad inventory, such as a display ad on an article page. When a reader visits that page, the ad server receives a request to fill the ad slot. It then chooses the right ad that matches the user’s interests and relevant page content. The user then sees the ad and the ad server tracks their engagement, including ad impressions, clicks, and conversions.

More specifically, ad servers are commonly split into two categories:

  • First-party ad servers. These are used by publishers to manage ad inventory and serve ads that are targeted to their built-in audiences.
  • Third-party ad servers. These are used by advertisers to track their ad campaigns and collect audience data, which they can then use to optimize their strategies.

Ad servers can also be divided into these two different types:

  • Self-hosted ad servers. These are maintained by publishers themselves. While they offer more hands-on control, they also come with more responsibilities, like installing and updating the ad tech.
  • Hosted ad servers. These are hosted by an outside company or provider. They update automatically and are often easy to use. They may also come with customized support features and real-time monitoring to ensure publishers’ campaigns are well-managed.

Publishers can choose the best type of ad serving platform for their needs based on their available resources and business goals. A growing publisher, for example, might opt for a hosted ad server so they can tap into a ready-made network of ad partners and access the latest ad serving technologies without having to run the program themselves.

How can ad serving platforms help publishers overcome today’s challenges?

Publishers are facing a slew of challenges as they recover from lost revenue during the pandemic, prepare for a cookieless world, and contend with more platforms and data channels than ever before.

Specifically, let’s look at the biggest obstacles facing publishers today and how ad serving platforms can help.

Data processing

According to DoubleVerify, 73% of publishers say they spend too much time processing data from tech vendors like DSPs and SSPs; 80% say this hurts their bottom line and prevents them from optimizing inventory. 

Publishers can also struggle with organizing and integrating siloed data if they run campaigns across channels without a comprehensive ad server platform. In fact, publishers noted the “lack of consistent media quality measurement methodologies between advertiser clients” as a major issue in managing campaigns.

How ad serving platforms can help: Run multichannel campaigns from one platform, so you can combine data from email, website, and push notification ads, gaining a comprehensive view of your audience and ad performance.

Ad fraud

Just like advertisers are concerned about brand safety, publishers have to make sure all messaging is properly vetted through their ad networks. Otherwise they risk losing money and frustrating readers.

How ad serving platforms can help: Properly vet ad partners and tap into a ready-made network of advertisers who are eager to reach your engaged audiences with relevant, personalized messaging.

Campaign targeting

Ad targeting across the web is about to experience a major shift as Google plans to disable third-party cookies from its Chrome browsers. As a result, publishers will need to rework how they track and target audiences. One of the best ways to do this is to prioritize first-party data — such as the email address — since it’s collected directly from the reader and can be used to segment audiences based on interests and preferences.

How ad serving platforms can help: Collect and activate first-party data on monetization channels like email. So you can make the most of your subscriber lists and stay ahead of the competition in a cookieless world.


What happens when publishers don’t have enough ads to fill their inventory? Well, they lose revenue and risk messing up their content with blank ad slots. That’s why publishers need to have a backfill strategy. So inventory never goes unfilled and content never goes unmonetized.

How ad serving platforms can help: Integrate with Google Ad Manager (GAM) to backfill unsold inventory and manage website and email ads from the same spot.

Discover how you can run native ads from Google Ad Manager in your email and  newsletters. Click here.

What should publishers look for in an ad serving platform?

With these key points in mind, here are the biggest components that publishers should look for in an ad serving platform:

  • Ease of use for managing multichannel campaigns
  • Integration with GAM to enable backfill and ad uniformity
  • Comprehensive analytics across campaigns
  • Targeting driven by first-party-data 
  • Support for a range of ad formats, including display, text, and native ads

Jeeng AdServe was built specifically with publishers in mind, helping them launch and manage automated and personalized messaging across platforms. In fact, you can run your email and website ads from one familiar system and backfill inventory with personalized ads so you never miss an opportunity to drive revenue.

Ready to upgrade your ad server? Book a demo today.

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