Behind the Scenes of Digital Ads

Digital ads are becoming a more predominate part of our internet experience. But what really happens before you see that ad?

Most people would guess that the ads are coming from the website itself, but in reality it results from a series of transactions. Before the page loads, your browser or mobile app will make a series of calls to “third parties” (such as, ad networks, ad exchanges/ad servers, etc.) which will in turn fetch an image/video. This image or video is then displayed in the predetermined location on the webpage. This all happens in a matter of seconds before the website page loads.

The most common types of ads usually appear on the side or top of the webpage as a banner or box. A typical banner ad costs the advertiser between $1 and $5 CPM (Cost Per Thousand), that’s $0.001 to $0.005 per an actual ad shown. The cost paid is split between various parties such as the publisher (website owner) and advertising technology companies, etc.

A whole lot of information such as your browser, computer’s user language, IP address (city location), OS version, the web page URL, and more are also being sent back to advertising technology companies. Based on this information, these companies generally have less than 1/10 of a second to make a bid on every opportunity. Incredibly, they examine hundreds of thousands of these opportunities each second.

Now, you may have noticed that sometimes a brand’s ad seems to be following you through different websites.
It’s true!  These advertising technology companies have the capabilities to ‘follow’ you when you visit various websites and show the same ad to you over and over again for several hours or even days.

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