What Exactly is an Ad Exchange?


Have you been asking yourself – what is an ad exchange?

If you have then – good! It not only means you are interested in the world of online advertising but it also means that you have come to the right place. Ad exchanges aren’t new and they have been around for a while but we are going to show you the ad exchange definition, why it can make you money as well as show you 5 of the best on the list of ad exchanges.

Before we get ourselves into all that we need to have a look at media buying.

list of ad exchanges

Media buying – what is it?

Media buying itself is very straightforward to define but for a newbie to the business it can appear confusing.

It is just the process of buying space to displace ads. Instead of paying to put an advertisement on a billboard or something like this, online media buying is about purchasing digital space on a website.

The thing about digital media buying is that the process can almost be automated. You don’t need to manually contact 100 website owners to have your ad displayed there. This is where ad exchanges come in.

What is an ad exchange?

Ad exchanges provide the means for both sellers and advertisers to come together and trade.

A seller is someone who has digital space to offer (a website) and an advertiser is someone that has an ad that they want to display within this digital space. Rather than contacting each advertiser or each seller directly, it is all conducted through an ad exchange platform and the process is carried out in seconds.

The way that an advertising exchange works can seem confusing and in many ways, it is complicated. That being said, at a basic level they bring together sellers and advertisers so that ads can be displayed online for people to view and click on.

List of ad exchanges

So, what are some of the best online ad exchange platforms out there at the minute?

#1 OpenX

This is one of the biggest ad exchanges out there and OpenX offers premium publishers and advertisers to trade online.

Like most ad exchanges there is a minimum traffic eligibility to sign up. This is set at 10 million page views per month and the CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) is 20 cents for traffic around the world. This amount increases depending on what geo-specific traffic you want – for example, it’s over $1 for traffic from the USA.

#2 One by AOL

One by AOL has a lot of reporting and control options for publishers and it also puts publishers in contact with leading brands.

The minimum monthly traffic eligibility is lower than OpenX as it’s set at 2 million page views per month and it is particularly suited to the USA market. CPM rates are $1 and above for traffic from tier 1 countries and One by AOL is one of the most well-known ad exchange platforms.

#3 Sovrn

Sovrn provide a pioneering programmatic exchange solution for publishers to reach out to many leading brands.

They offer a range of tools to help you grow including header bidding VAST and VPAID video, InView ads as well as cross-platform content distribution. Sovrn is one of the leading ad exchanges and they have lower minimum traffic qualifications that many of the other exchanges too.

#4 Rubicon Project Exchange

These guys actually started out as an SSP (we’ll look at that in more detail below) but since transitioning to an ad exchange they have become the favoured platform of many.

They have pioneered video header bidding and have removed buyer’s fees too. You need an estimated 5 million page views per month to meet the eligibility criteria to be a part of the Rubicon Project Exchange and they have a strong focus on the publisher side of the business.

#5 MoPub

Finally, we have MoPub which has been developed exclusively for mobile publishers.

If you are looking to get into advertising on mobile apps then MoPub is the best out there. Many publishers have increased their revenue through MoPub and with CPM rates of 15 cents and above for global traffic, they have become the go to ad exchange that specifically focuses on mobile.

DSPs and SSPs defined

What are demand side platforms and supply side platforms? DSPs and SSPs are probably terms you have heard about but don’t know the definition.

Both are part of the ad exchange ecosystem. Demand side platforms show advertisers what is relevant to them and allows them to manager their ads while supply side platforms allow publishers to set their base prices.

Most ad exchanges now incorporate both DSP and SSP functionality because the systems have worked so well to allow online media buying to grow at a rapid rate.

Using ad exchanges to make money

If you have come here wondering ‘what is an ad exchange’ then now you know not only what it is but how it works and what some well-known ad exchanges are.

Online advertising can be confusing for someone who is new to the game. Gone are the days when this was done manually and in todays’ world online advertising consists of highly complex algorithms and formulas that show ads to the people who are interested in them. The process these days is far more streamlined and efficient for both advertisers and sellers to make money.

There are still issues around fraud, however, these can be closely monitored and fraud detection intelligence is evolving all the time. More and more companies are using programmatic advertising and around 60% of B2B companies are now doing this.

For anyone who has an affiliate business or wants to get into affiliate marketing then learning about ad exchange platforms and how they work is crucial. Don’t get left behind but instead use ad exchanges to widen your reach and grow your business through high targeted and specific online advertising campaigns.

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