Categorized | Virtual Adservers

Promotions: Marketing and Sales 8.11. Virtual Adservers (PDF)

In the simplest possible marketing configuration, you will end up using some search advertising, some network advertising, and strike a few deals with some Web publishers. But what if you want to handle your own advertising? Or, check this out, what if you want to “rent” your own Web site to advertisers. If you’re playing seriously in the online advertising game, you’ll end up setting up an adserver.

The only thing an adserver does is publish ads on Web pages. The adserver has a stock of ads in its database, a stock of pages it publishes those ads to, and a tracking system that monitors anything and everything to do with those ads.

Adservers come in two flavors:

  • Remote adservers publish ads to several different Web domains owned by several different people—this is the adserver you would use if you want to publish and track your ads on other people’s sites.
  • Local adservers publish ads to Web domains controlled by the owner of the adserver—this is the adserver you would use if you want to publish and track other people’s ads to your site.

Now you don’t need an adserver to do either of these functions. Google AdWords is, after all, an adserver. It will publish your ads on other sites and, if you want, will publish other people’s ads on your site. But if your business model involves heavy-duty Web advertising, then you’ll probably end up with an adserver clunking away in your corner somewhere.

Why would you want the fuss and bother? Well, unlike adserving services like GoogleAds, if you control your own adserver you can:

  • Set up business rules for various ads.
  • Target ads to users much more precisely than you can with the services.
  • Optimize ads based on results.
  • Cap the ad frequency, i.e., only serve so many of one ad to one person.
  • Sequence ads, i.e., set a sequence of ads so that there’s a logical progress in the user’s experience of the ads.
  • Roadblock a Web site or page, i.e., exclude all competitor’s ads from a page.

Folks like Microsoft and Countrywide can afford to have banks of proprietary adservers serving up their millions of dollars in Internet ad buys every month, just like they have banks of proprietary servers for their Web sites. But in the same way that you can share a server with other Web site owners, you can also share an adserver with other Web advertisers like yourself. A virtual adserver works much the same way as a Web site hosting service. Every month, you “rent” storage space and bandwidth. The adserver comes equipped with the software required to create impressions on thousands or millions of Web sites. You can also use this “rented” adserver to spoon up ads on your site, as well.

But running your own virtual adserver, like running your own physical adserver, is not for the squeamish. It’s a highly technical, statistics-laden art form and, unless your business is built around Web advertising (which it could be if you’re primarily a Web content publisher generating all revenues from advertising), then you probably should stick with something like Google.

8.11.1. AdvertSERVE

AdvertSERVE is a managed hosting service running the software, AdvertPRO, a full-featured ad-serving and tracking application. Features include geographic and demographic targeting, frequency capping, CPM (cost-per-mil, i.e., 1,000 impressions)/CPC (cost-per-click)/CPA (cost-per-action)/flat fee pricing models, priority campaign weighting, real-time reporting, third party click tracking, and campaign e-mail alerts. Server and campaign administration is entirely Web-based and allows you to create several levels of system administrators and users. If you’re serious about your advertising and are running a variety of campaigns, the AdvertPRO software makes it easy to manage enormously complex campaigns with several different parameters.

The service bills you for each ad impression. For a basic account, the setup fee is $80 and the per-impression rate is $0.04 with a minimum monthly charge of $79. Geotargetting requires that you upgrade to the Extended Account (which allows country and continent targeting and tracking for a $100 setup fee and $0.05 per impression fee) or Premium Account (includes state and ZIP targeting and tracking for a $130 setup fee and $0.06 per impression fee).

8.11.2. Zedo AdServing

ZEDO’s adserver delivers all ad formats including rich media and full page ads, also called “interstitial” or “transition” ads. The administrative interface is totally Web-based and allows any kind of advertising content.

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