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Choosing an ad network: here’s what you NEED to consider

by    |    Apr 14, 2019    |       3 min read

Making an informed decision on selecting the best ad network can be a make-or-break moment in planning your advertising strategy. In the world of online advertising, whose value is projected to reach a whopping$220.38 billion by 2019, wanting a piece of this ever-increasing cake is a no-brainer business decision. Yet, brains are not the only thing you’ll need when snatching your piece of said cake, as your eyes will have to stay focused on fierce competition as well. Sounds intimidating? Have no fear, as you’ll need to put aside only a few minutes to read about how to pick the best ad network for you and emerge victorious at the end of your story.

Choose Audience, Pick Ad Network

Before choosing an ad network, the first thing you’ll want to do is reflect on your own goals. This should come as no surprise since your first step in choosing an ad network should be the consideration of your target audience. First of all, you need to ascertain the size of the audience that you are able to engage via advertising, helping you decide on the ad network that can meet your needs with regard to that. If you, for example, serve a global audience, as opposed to a niche one, your ideal network needs to be able to meet the desired audience volume. On the other hand, you may want to focus your efforts on an audience that’s restricted to a specific region, prompting you to look for an ad network that is dedicated to or specialized in operating in these areas.

The audience definition process can be kickstarted by means of identifying matching buyer personas. Population groups symbolically represented by these personas need to be based on what you know not just about their sizes, but their demographical data (such as age), information on their interests and other factors. Some niche target groups are defined by their interests solely, such as health and fitness enthusiasts who are targeted via vertical or niche ad networks for this sort of audience. Despite the fact that impression performance might seem lower, at first sight, being able to work with these networks can be beneficial in targeting specialized audience that already knows what it wants, allowing you to streamline your marketing strategy from a more generalized approach.

The size that Does Matter

Moving on to the second part of the equation, the ad network itself, one of the more “logical” considerations is its size. Simply put, the higher the number of advertisers the network offers, the better ad revenue you can theoretically expect, at least from the numerical point of view. The precondition for achieving this is to tie the number of ongoing campaigns to the number of said advertisers.

Larger inventories offer more options for ad networks to match ads and websites depending on the content. This can bring about higher quality engagement and CTR performance. Similarly, larger ad networks are able to cover more designated geographical areas, due to the sheer power of the higher number of their advertisers. This is easily translated into making it less likely to have large unsold portions of inventory. Finally, as the larger networks consequently have a bigger inventory at their disposal, there is a higher chance that the ads themselves will be better targeted at the desired audience.

website ad spots

Source: LiftEngine

Going Beyond Numbers: Ad Quality

Unlike the size of the ad network which is a parameter mostly revolving around sheer numbers, the quality of ads offered by the network is more of an intangible measure of a network’s desirability. You need to ensure that the ad network offers quality advertisements while taking into account the need to balance both quality and quantity. You must not allow yourself to become a publisher whose perception of ads rests solely on the fact that they are merely run – instead, you must ensure that the ads offered by a network are in tune with the brand or audience that you are trying to build. Checking for quality ads should, therefore, rank highly on your list of priorities when evaluating an ad network.

Covering all Fields via Formats

Similar to the considerations related to ad inventory quantity and quality are those related to the more technical side of the matter. One of them is checking the type of formats that an ad network offers, ranging from text ads and pop-ups to video rolls and GIFs. Not all formats are suitable for every campaign, as there is no universal skeleton key to unlock guaranteed business success. In any case, your safest bet is to pick an ad network offering a rich enough assortment of ad formats, so that you can engage in trial and error testing without fear that you will run out of options any time soon. At the same time, picking an ad network that offers various formats for a single desired advertisement can be an asset to consider in its evaluation.

Peeking Under the Hood: Tech and Payment

Another consideration in the process of selecting an adequate ad network is related to checking what makes the ad network tick in terms of its underlying technical infrastructure, such as reporting, ad management features, quality of integration of payment system, interface, user-friendliness, and other factors. Most of these are related to the entirety of your future user experience and go beyond the world of ads themselves. Make sure to check the offered level of offered customer support and tailor it to your current or projected level of expertise, as this can save you from many headaches in the future.

Last but hardly the least is the method of compensation offered by various ad networks, such as CPM,(cost per mille), CPV (cost per view), CPC (cost per click), CPA (cost per action) and others. For the majority of people, the first thing that comes to mind when they see all these different compensation methods is – “Which one is better?” In truth, this is not a competition, and they are all equally good, depending on your budget, goals, or what you’re advertising. CPC, or cost per click, means you’re paying only when a person clicks on an ad. This can be very effective if your sales funnel is extremely effective. If your sales are great at converting people to customers, then CPC might be your new best friend. On the other hand, if you have a great ad copy with a high click-through rate, you’d want to consider CPM.

CPV works only with video advertisement, and it requires conscious, intentional attention from the viewer. The question here is – when do we consider a video ad viewed? After one second? Five? Thirty? This varies from network to network and can be a great and cheap tool for advertisers just looking to raise brand awareness. Although there are exceptions to the rule, generally speaking, CPM models are used with sites that generate less traffic, or with sites that target a niche audience. That audience might be of a smaller number, but is usually considered “high-quality”, which is why a more targeted, precise ad method works great.

mobile ads spots

Source: Milgaard Inquiry


Standing out in an increasingly crowded online advertising environment means being ready for finding the right solution by means of experimenting and “live” trial and error. A large number of available options almost makes it necessary to go about it in such a manner. Yet, you can and should minimize your chances of failure by considering the above factors in advance. The bottom line is that by doing your homework prior to selecting the desired ad network you can keep your options both tight and open, raising the probability of achieving a successful entrepreneurial endeavor.

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