A central ad server is a computer server that stores advertisements and delivers them to web site visitors. These servers centrally store the ads so that advertisers and publishers can track from one source the distribution of their online advertisements, and have one location for controlling the rotation and distribution of their advertisements across the web.
The central ad server was first developed and introduced by FocaLink Media Services in 1995 for controlling online advertising or banner ads. The company was founded by Dave Zinman and Jason Strober, and based in Palo Alto, CA. In 1998, the company changed its name to AdKnowledge, and was eventually purchased by CMGI in 1999.
Ad Server Functionality
The typical common functionality of ad servers includes:
- Uploading creative, including display advertisements and rich media
- Trafficking ads according to differing business rules
- Targeting ads to different users, or content
- Optimizing creative based on results
- Reporting impressions, clicks, post-click activities, and interaction metrics
Advanced functionality may include:
- Frequency capping creative so users only see messages a limited amount of time
- Sequencing creative so users see messages in a specific order (sometimes known as surround sessions
- Excluding competitive creative so users do not see competitors’ ads directly next to one another
- Displaying creatives so an advertiser can own 100% of the inventory on a page (sometimes known as roadblocks
- Targeting creatives to users based on their previous behavior (Behavioral marketing)