5 tips to find the best ad network for your brand

Portrait of Melina Panitsidis
by Melina Panitsidis
Mar 23, 2021
Best ad network illustration

Many marketers gravitate to platforms like Google and Facebook when handed an online advertising budget. It makes sense, given that these ad networks own almost 70% of the market.

Digital ad spend graphic

However, great marketers understand that there are many other ways to advertise online.

They’re no longer dumping every dollar into these popular ad networks. Instead, they’re exploring the alternative ad networks and opportunities that fall in that 30% share of spend.

While that 30% doesn’t receive as much recognition as the typical tech giants do, there are many benefits to investing part of your budget into these types of ad opportunities. The competition is much less fierce, there are plenty of unique ad formats to choose from, and there’s more control over where your ads show up— to name a few.

If you’re a marketer looking to explore alternative advertising opportunities, the first step is to partner with the right ad network for your brand.

When researching ad networks, there are five key things to keep in mind. These tips will help you find the ad network that best aligns with your goals and needs.

It saves you time

Marketers are busy people. They’re managing multiple campaigns at once— often across a few different platforms.

Consider whether this partnership will save you time in the long run. Some things to think about evaluating an ad network:

  • What parts of the campaign process can they take off your plate?
  • Who is doing the heavy lifting when sourcing new publishers and placements?
  • Is the network limited in terms of ad formats?

While ad networks exist to help marketers reach their advertising goals, they should also be a time saver. If this partnership has you investing more time to see any ROI, it might not be the best fit.

Pro tip: look for ad networks that offer multiple ad formats, so you’re not juggling too many platforms.

Scalable audience targeting capabilities

Think about your audience. What type of content they consume? What websites do they frequently visit? Are they part of any online communities?

One benefit of working with alternative ad networks is that they have access to highly unique inventory that the bigger players don't. They're able to reach specific audiences more successfully. For example, if your target audience is developers, you'll see better ROI advertising on developer-focused websites rather than running a Facebook campaign.

The ad network you choose should understand your target audience and do and have sufficient inventory that reaches your audience at scale.

Flexible platform functionality

In addition to saving time and effectively targeting your audience, it's important to consider the ad network's platform functionality.

This will depend on your company's process and campaign needs, how much control you want to have, and the functionality you're looking for in a platform. Here are some features you might want to consider:

  • Easy and intuitive navigation
  • Real-time campaign analytics
  • Admin capabilities (i.e. being able to make your own adjustments without having to go through support.)
  • Access to customer support

Visibility into where ads are serving

In the last decade, the dark sides of online advertising— like ad fraud, brand safety issues, and low-quality inventory— have been brought to light.

When it comes to transparency in advertising, not all ad networks are created equal. Some ad networks might not be able to provide specifics about where ads are serving.

That's why fully transparent ad networks are a major plus in today's ad ecosystem. An ad network that can share exactly where ads are showing up and next to what type of content will help you avoid running into any issues down the road.

Advertising trends and insights

Ad networks work with a wide variety of publishers across different audiences. That means they're sitting on a wealth of knowledge that can give your brand the competitive edge it needs to really stand out.

While there are benefits to working directly with publishers, their advertising insights are often limited to their own placements. Ad networks are in a position that allows them to gain insights into each individual publisher they work with, which gives them a well-rounded understanding of trends on both the publisher and advertiser sides.

With this knowledge, an ad network can share insights and help you identify potential growth areas.

Making the power of ad networks work

More and more performance marketers are exploring new ways to spend their advertising budgets online. They’re finding value in the advertising opportunities that stretch way beyond Google and Facebook.

The right ad network will give you access to the right inventory to reach your target audience and make your campaign a hit.