Ad Networks Vs Ad Exchange

The programmatic advertising ecosystem consists of two parts: Ad networks and Ad exchanges. Because of their function in media buying, they are frequently used interchangeably. 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. A middleman is not used in ad exchanges.


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. Ad network’s ability to route transactions though they gave the order to this turmoil.

Ad exchange: Ad networks have simplified the media buying process, but publishers often had unsold inventory that they had to sell at lower prices.

How does it Function?

Ad Network: Ad networks are typically organisations that aggregate and curate a publisher’s ad inventory and sell it to advertisers for a commission. Ad networks take care of advertisers by segregating ad inventory based on criteria such as demographics, behavioural 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). Due to the real-time, software-based sale of ad impressions, the media buying process is extremely 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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