Take your app to the next level with Affise MMP (Mobile Measurement Partner)
Join Now ⚡

Tips & Guides — 26 Oct 2022

How to
Ad Exchange

What Is Ad Exchange? An In-Depth Guide On How To Leverage It

As an increasing number of services are moved online, consumers are spending more time than ever in online spaces. Accordingly, digital advertising is fast becoming the largest part of any marketing strategy.

An estimated 455 billion USD is spent worldwide on digital marketing in 2021, and this is only predicted to increase to almost doubling from 2019 to 2024.

So, it’s important for any marketing personnel to be aware of new tools to leverage in their strategy to maximize business exposure in the online sphere. Enter ad exchange. Ad exchange is fast becoming one of the most essential tools for marketing for businesses looking at highly targeted advertising.

What Is Ad Exchange?

Ad exchange is an online marketplace where advertisers can purchase digital advertising space from publishers. It is a very effective method of increasing click-through rates on digital ads. 

An advertiser is a business looking to put its message, product, or service in front of consumers. A publisher is any site, search engine, or app that will host the ad. 

Publishers can make advertising space (impressions) available on a supply-side platform (SSP). An impression occurs each time the ad is viewed. 

Advertisers then access this information, and make bids on the space, through a demand-side platform (DSP). 

This method of buying ad space has the advantage over a lot of other methods of being done in real-time. In the time that it takes for a page to load, the platform analyses all the bids that the publisher has received and selects the one most relevant to the page and to the consumer. 

Ad exchange makes it much easier for businesses to advertise on relevant sites, and allows sites more control over what ads appear on their pages. 

Read more about programmatic advertising and real-time bidding in our “Programmatic Advertising from A to Z” guide.

What Types of Ad Exchange Exist?

There are three main types of ad exchange:

  • 1
    Private ad exchange – this involves publishers having more control over who can place bids and when. Advertisers are generally invited to the platform to buy ad inventory. This type of ad exchange is becoming more popular due to the generally higher quality of ad space.
  • 2
    Open ad exchange – this is essentially a digital marketplace where many publishers can list their ad inventory and advertisers can bid on it. Although there can be security risks, there is a much higher volume of traffic here than on private platforms.
  • 3
    Preferred deals – this involves direct negotiation between publishers and advertisers, where publishers sell ad inventory to certain advertisers at an agreed-upon price.

How Can You Use Ad Exchange to Optimize Your Marketing Strategy?

Ad exchanges exist to make digital advertising easier for both advertisers and publishers. As a marketer, you can use ad exchanges to maximize the effectiveness of your strategy and drive more site visits and sales for your business.

These are some of the ways in which you can leverage affiliate marketing through ad exchange and increase the reach of your business’s message.

1. Audience Targeting

What a lot of businesses love most about ad exchange platforms is the ability to target their audiences much more closely than with other ways of buying ad space. Because you are able to bid on individual publisher’s ad space, you can automatically bid on space only on the most relevant sites.

Understanding your goals is key here. Building a strong sales funnel is one of the central goals of effective advertising, and getting your ads in front of your target audience is the key to achieving this.

This is where ad exchange comes in. In your marketing team, you will need to decide which metrics you are targeting in your audience.

For example, your business might be highly location-specific. In that case, you would want to select publishers that you make bids to based on where most of the traffic to their site comes from.

In a slightly different scenario, you might have a product aimed at people who are well-versed in the latest tech. You can use an ad exchange platform to select and bid to publishers whose content is relevant to this goal.

In this way, ad exchange is much more useful for marketing to a targeted audience than buying directly from the publishers. It saves time and, by allowing you more control over your target audience parameters, shows your ad to relevant people likely to result in a conversion or sale. Or, in other words, you’ll see a better return on investment (ROI).

2. Collecting Analytics Data

A lot of ad exchange platforms allow you to collect analytics data on how your ad is performing. Traditional digital advertising methods also allow you to do this, but with ad exchange, you’re likely to get a better idea of how your ads are performing. 

You can use this feature of ad exchange services to make tweaks to your strategy in order to see a greater ROI. 

Imagine that you’ve purchased advertising space in an app that specializes in forming business connections. Your company designs HR software, so this is an appropriate position for your ads. 

Your analytics will tell you how your ad is faring in comparison to your goals. How you act on this data will depend on what your goal is. If it is to get a certain number of customers to start using your software, then your click-to-sales ratio will be important here.

You may need to adjust your ad as you go along, but this is the beauty of ad exchange – because you are bidding for individual ad spaces in real-time, you can make any necessary changes before the ad goes out again. 

This is where you might like to conduct a competitor SEO analysis. Knowing what your direct competitors are doing with SEO in order to maintain their relevance to your industry is a great way to understand how to make your ads more effective at attracting customers.

3. Budgeting

Cost and value for money are two of the biggest concerns for marketing teams, especially for smaller businesses where ROI is crucial. Thankfully, with ad exchange platforms, you will likely see more cost-effective advertising. This is down to bidding on individual ad spaces and targeting your audience. 

When budgeting for ad exchange, make sure to have realistic goals. This might include a certain number of impressions or sales resulting from your campaign. 

You might consider including digital advertising when calculating expenses for SEO. After all, it’s all to do with your online presence and reaching more relevant consumers. Are you incorporating an online advertising campaign into a wider SEO strategy to increase discoverability?


If you are, then consider how much of your traffic is likely to come from search engine results and how much from ads originating from websites and apps. If you’ve had success from SEO before and want to expand, consider allocating more of your budget towards ad exchange.

4. Publisher Targeting

One of the major benefits of ad exchange platforms is that you can pick and choose your publishers. There are a huge number of publisher sites that sell advertising inventory on ad exchange platforms, so you’ll be able to bid for sites that are highly relevant to your target audiences. 

A great way of locating potentially suitable publishers is to find the major sources of backlinks in your industry. Like internal links for SEO purposes, backlinks are indications of a site’s reliability. They’re likely to be visited by a lot of the consumers within your target audience, so these industry leaders should be on your list of potential publishers. Just make sure that they aren’t your direct competitors!

You can also block publishers with whom you don’t wish to advertise. For example, your direct competition or publishers whose company values don’t align with yours. This will help to keep your brand message consistent and make sure that you don’t compromise on strong brand values. 

Marketing on publisher platforms with similar values and messages to your own is a great way to bring in consumers who value consistency and values in a business.

What Next?

Making the switch from manually purchasing advertising space from publishers to using an ad exchange can be tricky, so be sure to understand exactly what it is that you want from your marketing strategy. 

Having clear goals and milestones is key to leveraging any marketing tool to increase sales for your business. You should also make sure to discuss with your team exactly how you’ll implement ad exchange into your strategy and how you look to measure success. 

You might also consider looking through digital advertising case studies to see how other businesses leveraged this technique and whether this is relevant to your business.

This article is reffered with:

Share this article
Affise Academy

Written by

Affise Academy

Affise is a partner marketing platform for brands, advertisers and agencies to scale via all possible performance marketing channels. Synergy of technology and our long standing experience lets you expand your partnerships, automate every step of the campaign lifecycle and make data-driven decisions.

See all articles →

Sign up to receive our newsletter

Stay on top of the competition. Let us keep you updated with news, insights, and more

email envelope