Build Your Own Ad Server

Adnuntius provides a fully capable advertising and data platform for publishers and buyers. But we also have news for anyone looking to build their own ad server; you can reduce the job of building your own advertising and data platform from years to a couple of months using Adnuntius. We’ve done the heavy lifting for you, so that you can offer your customers a state of the art product, or to serve ads on your own properties using your very own technology. 

Why build your own ad server you ask? There may be different reasons depending on your place in the advertising ecosystem.

  • If you provide publishers with your SSP, you could use an ad server to build a closer relationship with publishers as header bidding risks commoditizing the SSP business. 
  • If you provide advertisers with your DSP, you could use an ad server to provide your customers with solutions to manage both direct and programmatic (cross-channel) campaigns inside one system. 
  • If you’re a publisher or brand, or any of the two above, you could also use an ad server to build a new business for yourself now that 3rd party cookies disappear, and programmatic costs are proven to be both high and out of control.

In this blog post we will go through an example use case to visualize how it can be easily done, and where you find the reasons why it could be a good idea. We will use the fictitious Saharan Icehockey League (SIL; and if there is indeed a Saharan Icehockey League we apologize for any infringement and for claiming it’s fictitious), who wants to create better support for its sponsors across its online properties – in this case the frequently visited website sil.com.

1 Avoid Ad Blockers and Create Your Placements

One of the first jobs of implementing your ad server is about deploying ad tags so that you have spaces on your website where you can show ads. Ad tags are like empty containers; once they’re on your site they can show any content that you want to target to that box, and you can set multiple rules to ensure that the right content is shown to the right user in the right context. 

SIL, who controls its own website, wants to ensure that browsers and ad blockers cannot easily detect and block content from running. This is why we enable customers to fetch content from a CDN with their own name (or just use their own CDN). The script below loads the adn.js file, which is what Adnuntius uses to interact with our ad server and render ads.

<script src="https://cdn.adnuntius.com/adn.js" async></script>

See the cdn.adnuntius.com part? This is what we then replace with your very own domain, so that Adnuntius is no longer visible. And voila; you are now using our ad server infrastructure, but anything visible to you and/or your customers is your own.

If you’re a DSP or SSP provider and you want to build your own ad server to offer to customers, then this point is equally valid – it is just that you probably want to create ad tags that lead to your domain instead of ours.

2 Customize Your Ad Portfolio

Once you have ad tags (read: empty containers) on a page, the next step is to fill those containers with content. This involves creating your product portfolio, which we call “layouts”. Layouts allow you to create any look and feel to the content that goes onto your page, and to add any event tracking to an ad when it’s displayed. While Adnuntius comes with a wide variety of layouts provided out of the box, you might want to differentiate by creating your own. 

Our friends at SIL wants to provide their sponsors with three products: native ads that align with the editorial content on their page but provides traffic to content marketing pieces; pre-roll video ads to let sponsors market their products and brand before the matches begin; and display ads to market logos of their sponsors around the site. 

Layouts allow you to create any ad product.

It’s all easy; you (or we if you need help) create three layouts, one for each product, and then when you want to book campaigns you simply choose the layout relevant for that campaign, and upload your material.

3 Create Your Buying and Selling Ecosystem

Now that you have inventory to offer and products to sell, you’re good to go! Our friends at SIL have people that handle content to be uploaded and marketed, so no worries there. However, they also see an opportunity to work more effectively by allowing their sponsors and advertisers to manage content on their own. 

That’s why Adnuntius comes with user roles that allow you to let advertisers (and publishers if it applies to you) log in and manage their own inventory like they do with a DSP (or SSP on the publisher end). In fact, if you’re a technology company that wants to create alternatives to programmatic advertising, Adnuntius delivers private marketplace software that allows for a fully transparent ecosystem that improves speed and functionality, while lowering the cost to a fraction of the current cost of “traditional” programmatic advertising. 

Self-service advertising.

Our friends at SIL want to let their sponsors log in and manage their own inventory (buyer roles), they will allow each of the hockey teams to use the platform to manage their own websites (sub-publisher roles), and since they keep getting requests from smaller advertisers to market their offerings, they will open up a self-service portal for them to be able to buy as well. And it is all delivered by Adnuntius. No wait; by you!

Header bidding

If you want to connect to programmatic bidders; no problem. We enable you to easily deploy a large range of bidders using header bidding, and you get all the statistics into one user interface.

4 Work Smarter with Smart Features

One of the reasons why our friends at SIL wanted to build their own ad server in the first place, was to minimize manual work. This is why they chose to use some of our many smart features, such as: 

  • Automated reporting; whenever a sponsorship campaign is uploaded it is, with a click of a button, added with automated reports that ensure that all stakeholders remain informed without any manual work. 
  • Custom events; SIL sponsors are demanding, and they often come with questions such as “can you tell me how many people watched at least X seconds of my pre-roll ad video” or “how many hovered their cursor over my logo”? No problem, any custom event can be easily added to track just about any action performed by users. 
  • Targeting; Sponsor 1 wants to show pre-rolls on weekdays and within work hours only, sponsor 2 wants to reach users sitting only in east Sahara, and sponsor 3 wants first priority whenever north Sahara plays against south Sahara. Luckily that’s no problem; content can be targeted to handle all these combinations without manual labor and the risk of making mistakes.

5 Data and Targeting

SIL’s main sponsor now wants to know if they can retarget their offerings to users who have previously been on that sponsor’s website. And while you try educating them about how 3rd party data is disappearing, making retargeting a thing of the past, they still keep pushing; afterall they say, Facebook still allows them to do it using custom audiences. 

This is a hint that might help you along; if they compare to Facebook’s custom audiences that means they have email addresses and/or phone numbers of those users. And much to your relief, your advertising and data platform allows for buyers to synchronize their data with yours and create common audiences. Problem solved; you can activate all your first party data to support advertisers in retargeting their users. And since another sponsor asked for the ability to reach only season ticket holders that’s no problem either; Adnuntius Data makes it easy to put all your first party data to life in marketing.

Don’t Be a Stranger

Want to learn more? Reach out to stian@adnuntius.com for more information and a reasonably priced offer. If you already signed up – good luck building your own ad server! Which is now much easier than starting an ice hockey league in Sahara.