An Introduction To How Online Advertising Delivery Works
The following is a guest post from Chris Sharp, general manager of content and digital media at Equinix. If you’d like to contribute thinking here, please read the guidelines.
Most online marketers don’t stop to consider the technology behind what lets them reach audiences. So today, we thought it would be fun to explore an introduction to something you’ve probably never thought about: how online advertising delivery works.
In today’s rapid consumption world, every millisecond matters in ad delivery (and really, delivery of any type of content). If your ads aren’t presented fast enough, there’s a chance they won’t be presented at all.
In order to keep up with the demands of online publishers, the ad delivery market has had to continually evolve from small standalone players that are locally hosted to sophisticated, integrated systems offered in a hosted model.
These new, highly sophisticated ad networks provide valuable solutions to both their publication partners, as well as to advertisers. From ensuring ads are highly targeted to its readers, to delivering them in a fast, efficient and cost-effective manner. While every nanosecond counts in ad delivery, delivery speed by itself isn’t enough.
In order for ads to be successful, they must be relevant. Because of this, contextual advertising solutions have become a powerhouse in the online advertising market, taking personalization beyond demographics to true relevance to the editorial content. In fact, according to a recent article on Twitter’s contextual ad model, a recent VW ad campaign had an engagement rate of more than 50 percent and demonstrating the power of social advertising.
Contextualization adds another step to ad delivery that theoretically might add time to delivery. But this doesn’t have to be the case. With the right infrastructure in place, advertisers and ad networks can capture the information from the editorial text in real-time and effectively deliver the highly targeted ad back to the publisher site faster than before. What’s the secret? Location, location, location.
Where you locate your datacenter infrastructure plays an enormous role in the success of your ad delivery. When we talk about location, we are not limiting it to just the geographic location (although that does play a part). Location also refers to the proximity to network transit providers, content delivery networks and end-user platforms.
When an ad network is working with a network provider to capture real-time information from a publisher to determine which ad to deliver, the slower that process is, the slower the actual placement of the ad is. Slower ads result in a poor user experience and ultimately publisher drop-off. However, if that network provider is within the same datacenter as the ad network, that time can be vastly reduced – sometimes even cut in half. Content Delivery Networks are used to deliver the ad content back to the site. Again, if your infrastructure provides the capability to directly connect to CDN partners – that time, too, is greatly reduced.
Therefore, ad networks should look for datacenter providers that offer these key things: access to global distribution located in close proximity to end-users; access to network providers such as backbones to ISPs and mobile data providers; and finally, one that hosts an ecosystem of content companies, advertising networks and content delivery services accessible via direct connection.
Now that we’ve learned a little more about how online ad delivery works, what are the takeaways for marketers and publishers?
- Online marketers concerned with delivering their ads as quickly as possible should look to partner with ad networks that have robust infrastructure, specifically partners that utilize data center providers with interconnection and proximity services.
- Advertisers at large, digital companies with a data center presence should choose to colocate their servers within a data center that also houses the content and digital media companies with which you will be placing ads (e.g, media sites, social networks, etc).
- Companies leveraging contextual ads should specifically look to ad delivery services that house their infrastructure close to network service providers, which enable faster access to and delivery of ad data.
Chris Sharp defines new products and services, and sets business strategy for Equinix Interconnections globally. He developed the Equinix Ethernet Exchange, incorporating Ethernet services into the company’s peering infrastructure. Equinix is a LEWIS PR client.