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Ad networks have been around for over two decades, and in that time they’ve changed quite a bit. Once upon a time, they were a place where businesses could place advertisements for niches not allowed on Google (gambling, dating sites, etc.), but in the meantime, they have expanded and now cover almost everything.
So, how does an ad network function? For those not familiar with this, it connects advertisers with a website (or websites) that wish to host them, called Publishers. Ad networks are extremely popular among Advertisers mostly because they are easy to use and they can be very cost-effective, and both the networks and Advertisers take percentage.
So, how are you supposed to choose the best ad network for your business? There are a couple of criteria you can base your decision on. The most important ones are the following…
Self-serve Or Managed
The first thing you want to check is whether or not you’ll be able to optimize your campaigns on a certain network—this is possible only on self-serve type of networks. On the other hand, there are managed networks which provide you with a full service: relevant traffic and optimization of your account. You will get basic info about your campaigns and you will be able to ask them to stop running ads here and there, but that is about it. As said before, if you love having control and you have someone in-house who can manage your account, self-serve is definitely for you.
A common opinion is that ad networks are classified into those with adult traffic and those with mainstream traffic. This is true, yes, although both types of traffic are separated into different niches. For example, mainstream traffic encompasses anything from automotive to dating (mainstream dating), business and social.There are a lot of niches out there and every network specializes in some of them. If you have a travelling agency and you are running your ads through a network that specializes in finances, you won’t have much use of that traffic.
What we mentioned above concerning different niches can also be applied to GEOs. For example, if you want to target the UK and the US only, then there is no point in serving your ads through an ad network that can provide you with GCC traffic only. There are networks with worldwide traffic, too, but if you read again about how all of this works, you will realize that it is not possible to have equal traffic in every country, for every available niche. If you want to get the most out of ad networks, make sure to pick one that will bring you the traffic you need.
There’s no doubt about it: over the past few years (let’s say a decade, even) mobile advertising has become extremely popular in the world of marketing, which paved the way for mobile-only ad networks. This means that, if you want to get desktop traffic only, these particular ad networks are definitely not for you. Of course, you can always turn to old-fashioned ad networks that can drive both desktop and mobile traffic, i.e. while creating a campaign you can choose which device you want to target.
Will you go for CPC, CPM, CPI or another bidding option? Although this choice largely depends on the type of ads you wish to use, you should definitely check the bidding options before you sign up for anything (after all, it’s better to be safe than sorry!). Choose wisely, because this is your money and your marketing goals, and things can easily go wrong if you make wrong decisions. See which bidding options come with the ad network of your choice and determine whether it will help you get the most out of your campaign.
Types Of Ads
Types of ads are just as important criteria as all other previously mentioned. For example, there are ad networks the serve only pop-up ads and there are those that offer banners only.
If this something that’s not of interest to you, don’t worry. There are others you can use, as well. Is it interstitial ads you need or would you like to test couple of them? In-text maybe? The choice is all yours, but remember: not all networks will offer all of these ads. Each network will provide you only with a couple of them.
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