As the Internet has rapidly grown to become an indispensable part of people’s lives, so has the importance of promoting businesses online. In fact, today it’s hard to find a reputable company which isn’t already advertising its products on the Web
The ever-increasing number of businesses online has resulted in a concomitant growth in the popularity of online ad serving and ad management platforms, which have become essential tools for launching a successful ad campaign that leads to an increase in sales and revenue.
The rise in demand for these online ad serving platforms has led to quite an impressive range of options from a diverse group of companies, comprising of both new start-ups and established names. Today I’m going to take a quick look at some of the most popular.
Providing a range of services for advertisers, publishers and networks, OpenX is one of the most well-known online ad platforms. Launched back in 1998, the company offers both free or prepaid versions of software to be installed on a Web server that differ in a number of essential aspects. The free OpenX OnRamp provide rather limited functionality with no user support and presupposes strict limitations on the number of ad impressions served. As such, this option is more suitable for personal sites, blogging or hobbyist, rather than large and complex ad campaigns.
The prepaid OpenX Enterprise is far more impressive, with wide targeting opportunities, ad campaign and revenue optimization features, real-time reporting and partner management. Pricing depend on impression volume, although clients are only usually provided with the precise financial details upon request. Complaints are generally related to the exaggerated complexity of OpenX and the number of bugs in both the free and prepaid versions of the platform.
A long established player in the ad serving solutions market, DoubleClick by Google is particular popular among small and medium-sized businesses. Since its purchased by Google, Doubleclick has been allowed to develop as an independent unit within the coproration. One apparent downside of this, is that its parent company doesn’t seem to have made much of an effort to integrate its latest innovative solutions into the ad serving platform.
Unlike OpenX, Doubleclick is a web-hosted ad platform on reliable Google powered servers. DoubleClick For Publishers (DFP) is available as Small Business DFP and DFP Premium. DoubleClick for Advertisers (DFA) offers ad serving solutions for agencies and advertisers, with options including DART Enterprise, which is based on the same advanced infrastructure as DFP Premium.
The provided features of Doubleclick comprise a relatively large number of targeting, optimization and reporting opportunities, mobile solutions and the support of all major ad formats.
As with OpenX, Doubleclick has become a rather bulky platform with a somewhat inconvenient interface. Potential clients must request pricing details.
Far less popular than OpenX or Doubleclick, the Zedo ad platform, headquartered in San Fransisco, is one of the oldest competitors in the niche. Launched more than 10 years ago, Zedo is mostly oriented towards publishers and offers extremely basic functionality.
Although rather outdated, Zedo’s pricing options are quite high with both a one time set-up fee and monthly fee based on volume. It however provide 24/7 support with dedicated client managers, which might make it a good choice for companies that value qualified support service.
Epom is a relatively new solution on the online ad serving and management market with an elegant innovative interface. As its founders claim, Epom is a scallable platform with its main focus on cooperation with large publishers and networks.
Epom is also developing its mobile solution, which already includes well-designed and convenient basic functionality, though much needs to be added to make it suitable for publishers who expect a mobile solutions to offer customized settings. The client support is provided by dedicated managers, who can provide any technical assistance, regarding the system.
Epom offers both free (for under 250K monthly impressions) and prepaid versions, the latter being offered at reasonable price with generous discounts. All the available types of targeting are also free, with payment only required for impressions. There is neither a set-up, nor monthly fee, with detailed pricing information available on the website.
As part of the Advertising.com group, Adtech is oriented towards cooperation with larger sites and offers a number of useful features for its clients, including real-time monitoring, user tracking, live testing and rich media support. In addition to its Premium version, Adtech also offers a trim ADTECH lite, which is free to mid-sized publishers and advertisers with 50mm impressions or less, with ability to purchase additional advanced options.
Founded back in 2000, Adspeed began its history as an ad-rotator and only converted into an online ad serving platform in 2005. Adspeed offers a demo-account to try the interface, and geotargeting options are supported by third party data provider MaxMind. Overall reports are real-time with the data processed and continuously updated on the back-end, but there’s up to 24 hours delay breakdown stats. Adspeed pricing is based on volume, in addition to a predefined set-up fee and tech support is via a ticket system.
Less famous than its rivals, AdvertPro’s pricing structure includes Pricing Licence Cost (One-Time Fee) + Yearly Support Fee + and some other prepaid options, e.g. Contextual Targeting, GeoIP Country, GeoIP City targeting. Such a payment system might be unattractive to many companies used to being able to employ a range of different targeting options for free.
Like Adspeed, AdvertPro provides a demo-account to test the interface, but offers full tech support during office hours.
Another relative newbie in the the market, AdZerk offers an innovative user interface. Initially created in 2008 for the use of only two ad networks, namely The Lounge and Ruby Row, AdZerk is now offering both its free and enterprise versions, depending on served ad volume.
The main features of AdZerk include support for all ad type, real-time reports and a fully supported API. Tech support is provided via in-application chat.
How To Choose The Best Ad Serving Platform For You?
When deciding which online ad platform is most suitable, there are a number of things to consider. These include:
- Limitations on ad file types and sizes. Rich media ad types that require an external vendor. The max size of ads without an additional bandwidth cost.
- Types of actions that can be tracked. Possible difficulties in the implementation of tracking advanced metrics.
- Targeting and optimization opportunities.
- Creation of custom reports. Availability of specifically formatted reports and their cost.
- Reliability of the software and average time required to fix bugs. Handling an overflow of traffic requests.
- Pricing structures of versatile support scenarios.
- Ad platform pricing & the cost of additional options.
- Stability and security of an ad serving platform, claimed SLA.
Guest post by Andy DonovanTags: ad campaign, ad management platforms, ad serving solutions, Adtech, DoubleClick, online ad platforms, online ad serving, online advertising, OpenX, Zedo