Alternatives to the Google Ad Server?

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British Gas scrapped Google’s ad server for an independent alternative 10 months ago, and hasn’t looked back. But is this a viable option for other advertisers? Matt Thorne, Media Account Director, gives his views:

Why is an ad server a core part of an ad tech stack?

With the digital marketing marketplace becoming more and more cluttered over time with a constant influx of new media channels and new publishers it is not only vital to establish what these channels and publishers are delivering independently in terms of performance, it is vital to understand how they are effecting each other to gain a true reflection. As technology within the industry also advances the ad servers are becoming more powerful with attribution model capabilities are being directly built into them. The challenge we are all now facing is transparency, with external factors such as GDPR now limiting these capabilities. But transparency is not just confined to GDPR being enforced, it seems to be a wider movement of advertisers wanting to know exactly where their money is going and if they are receiving data back on their campaigns, how is this being processed.

Why are more brands considering independent ad servers like Flashtalking?

With these more limited capabilities being imposed upon the industry, advertisers are now on the lookout for independent parties who are able to potentially tailor a bespoke solution to their needs rather than using an “plug and play” solution that some of big players revert to. This, again, also harks back to the transparency movement, as with the big players the attribution models provided are wall gardened where you simply have to sit back and trust that the data they are passing is not favouring their paid media solutions. Education on this subject is on the up as the market matures and eyes are beginning to wander elsewhere.

Why are advertisers scared of leaving Double click?

With the likes of Google, due to their sheer size, they are able to simply price other ad servers out of the minds of advertisers. Facebook, alongside Google, are also able to provide their attribution offering for free. So there is an obvious commercial element. Especially if there are contractual agreements in place.

If an advertiser makes the brave decision to move to an independent ad server, swallowing the larger costs with the vision of getting a bespoke solution to paint a clearer picture, they then have to navigate the transition. This will also cost time in resource to manage as the existing tracking infrastructure is stripped out and replaced. Also potentially months of embedding how this new methodology and data is ingested, understood, and acted upon by their business. So is not an easy decision, however given education on the subject and embracing change could make a big difference.

As featured in Digiday. Full article here.


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