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Ad Network Definition:

An ad network is a company which aggregates advertising inventories from a large number of publishers' websites. The advertising network is a commercial and technical intermediairy between advertisers and publishers. Ad networks are a single buying opportunity for media buyers and an opportunity to access advertising market for small publishers or to sell remnant inventory for premium / standard publishers.

How do they work:

Ad networks work with publishers all over the Web, helping anyone who has unsold inventory, or ad space, and wishes to monetize their offerings. The networks then aggregate this inventory, package it and sell it to advertisers (1).

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Pros and cons:

The benefits of using ad networks are numerous for both content providers and advertisers. Content providers find them an easy and reliable way to sell inventory, although the revenue is typically less than what they could earn selling the space themselves. Advertisers also like the ease of use. With minimal effort, they can purchase a campaign that targets a specific group of consumers on websites throughout the world. Ad networks are also known for flexible payment models and cost efficiencies.

The downside to advertisers is limited control over ad placements. The possibility exists that ads could appear next to inappropriate content. Many advertisers have also complained that their own campaign analytics often do not match up with the metrics provided by the networks (2). Despite these downfalls, many businesses find ad networks to be an affordable and efficient way of reaching consumers.

Creation of Ad Networks:

Ad networks were created to help marketers who were trying to collect inventory from a seemingly infinite number of websites and publishers. Marketers didn't have the time or resources to cherry pick ad impressions from each website, so ad networks were created to present a large collection of inventory so marketers could buy impressions quicker, easier, and cheaper. Ad networks are not created equal. Some choose to focus on reach and quantity while others boast the quality of the spots they sell. Either way, ad networks can be a bit skewed - networks aggregate inventory from many publishers and then mark it up and sell it to profit.

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