An ad network is a technology platform that serves as a broker between a group of publishers and a group of advertisers. Ad networks were one of the first pieces of advertising technology that appeared in the mid-’90s when online advertising first began. They were responsible for the very same things they are today—helping advertisers buy available ad space (aka inventory) across multiple publishers. How does an ad network make money?

Traditionally, ad networks pool together unsold ad inventory from several publishers and sell it to advertisers at a far cheaper cost than a publisher’s direct sales. Non-premium or leftover are common terms used to describe this type of inventory.

However, several networks today adopt a more strategic stance and lean toward providing their sponsors with more premium, exclusive arrangements. They choose and pre-purchase merchandise from several top-tier publishers, then resell it at a profit. Although it could be more expensive for the advertisers, this agreement guarantees the prominent placement of their adverts.

What an ad network does is as follows:
1. To deliver the necessary amount of inventory to the advertisers on an auction basis, an ad network brings together a sizable number of publishers.
2. When running the campaign across various ad networks and indirect arrangements with publishers, the advertiser can either set up the campaigns directly using an ad network’s campaign-management interface or set up pixels from a third-party ad server for verification purposes and consolidated reporting.
3. The publisher places the ad-network ad tags on their website by either placing the tags directly into the page or by utilizing a first-party ad server. The advertiser puts up the campaign specifications.
4. Using the campaign-management panel of the ad network, the advertiser can rotate several banners on the website once the ad is published without getting in touch with the publisher.

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