Ad Networks Vs Ad Exchange

Ad network vs Ad exchange

The programmatic advertising ecosystem consists of two parts: Ad networks and Ad exchanges. People often use them interchangeably because of their role in media buying. This essay will assist you in avoiding confusion.

Ad networks and Ad exchanges function differently and serve diverse purposes within the advertising ecosystem, sharing a similar goal. To dispel misconception, we shall examine how an ad network and ad exchange vary in this post.


Ad Network: An Ad network is termed an aggregator as it gathers advertising inventory from publishers and sells it to businesses. It serves as a middleman.

Source: Google

Ad Exchange: In a digital marketplace called an ad exchange, marketers and publishers can directly buy and sell ad inventory. Ad exchanges do not involve the use of a middleman.


Ad network: Publishers and advertisers found it extremely challenging to handle the purchasing and selling of ad inventories as the digital advertising market exploded in the late 1900s and early 2000s. Despite having given the order, ad networks caused turmoil by routing transactions.

Ad exchange: Despite the fact that ad networks have simplified the media buying process, publishers are still struggling with the issue of selling unsold inventory at discounted prices.

Read this article: What is Ad Refresh?

How does it Function?

Ad Network: Ad networks are typically organizations that aggregate and curate a publisher’s ad inventory and sell it to advertisers for a commission. Furthermore, ad networks cater to advertisers by segregating ad inventory based on criteria such as demographics, behavioral traits, and context. Ad inventory is bought and sold in bulk.

Ad Exchange: In the technological sense, an ad exchange is a platform that permits participation in the transaction from advertisers, agencies, demand-side platforms (DSP), publishers, and supply-side platforms (SSP). Additionally, due to the real-time and software-based sale of ad impressions, the media buying process is highly transparent.


The following is a typical analogy used to highlight the distinctions between ad networks and ad exchanges:

Ad networks: Similar to stockbrokers in the stock market, ad networks assist you in selecting the appropriate stocks based on your needs.

Ad exchange: An ad exchange functions similarly to a stock exchange by providing an open market for the purchase and sale of securities.

The Ad network or Ad exchange: Which is better?

Which one is superior is a frequently asked question.

Source: Google

Ad exchanges and Ad networks are both a feature of programmatic advertising. So there isn’t a single solution. Ad networks are the best option if you want to buy ads in bulk, but ad exchanges are better if you want to keep your ad campaigns dynamic.

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