Video Ad Servers vs Display Ad Servers: Use Both or One?

November 15, 2023 | by Aleesha Jacob

Video and display ads are the two most popular advertising formats right now that are making publishers and advertisers big bucks.

Video ads are booming right now. Some estimates claim that it will overtake all other digital ad formats in just a few years. There are many different ad servers available to the publisher, but they cannot all handle video ads effectively. Video ads require high-bandwidth, dedicated servers to handle high traffic levels and load times for these ads. The two types of ad servers are video ad serving platforms, which specialize in video ads and display ad serving platforms which typically serve most ad formats.

Today, most mainstream ad servers can serve display ads as well as video ads fairly easily, despite the difference in the end result. There are a few significant differences to understand about both video & display ad servers which we’ll be covering in this article.

Keep reading to get all the deets about Video Ad Servers & Display Ad Servers.

Video Ad Servers [Definition Breakdown]

Video ad servers are the middlemen between publishers, who publish video content on sites and apps, and the advertising companies that want to advertise on those sites and apps. They are not the same as video ad networks.

Video ad servers are engineered to streamline the delivery of in-video ads, offering a sophisticated approach to reach audiences. They utilize programmatic advertising technologies to precisely target viewer segments based on demographic data gathered through cookies or the popularity metrics of specific content. This capability ensures that ads are seen and relevant to the viewer, increasing engagement and potential click-through rates.

Key benefits include:

  • Targeted Advertising: Ads are tailored to viewer interests, leading to higher engagement and improved user experience.
  • Dynamic Content Delivery: Utilizes real-time data to serve ads that resonate with current viewer preferences.

Display Ad Servers: Expanding Your Reach

Display ad servers specialize in managing static ad formats like banners, leaderboard ads, and other prominent placements typically found above the fold on a webpage. They may be less enticing compared to video ad servers but are crucial in creating visual appeal and capturing the attention of site visitors as soon as they land on a page.

Display ad servers offer:

  • Visibility and Brand Recognition: Static ads provide constant visibility, reinforcing brand presence.
  • Diverse Placement Options: Flexibility to place ads in various high-traffic website areas, maximizing exposure.

Do Video Ad Servers equal Display Ad Servers?

Video Ad Servers vs Display Ad Servers: Use Both or One? MonitizeMore

Video ad servers and display ad servers have a lot of similarities, which is understandable since they were designed to do the same thing: serve ads. Adding video to the mix wasn’t a big strain on most existing ad servers’ technological resources, so there was no reason not to do video ads.

99% of the publishers we’ve served want to run both video ads and display ads.

The same is true for advertisers – they want to reach their target audiences in several ways, and both video & display ads convert powerfully.

When you use one of the hosted ad servers out there, there’s a good chance they can serve both display ads and video ads to your site. In fact, it would make little sense for any providers of hosted ad servers to only be able to serve one or the other. Why would they want to limit their potential revenue streams? They want their customers to be successful, after all.

So if you’re using Google Adsense or other ad servers, there’s no reason to believe that you won’t be able to serve ads from them that are both display and video at some point.

A few minor differences exist between display and video ads in terms of the technology required to serve them.

Video Ad Servers vs Display Ad Servers: Main Differences

Video Ad Servers vs Display Ad Servers: Use Both or One? MonitizeMore

Let’s take a look at the differences between display ad servers and video ad servers now.

Display ads are simply static images which may be a bit boring from the dynamic video ads.

Additionally, it distinguishes a display banner ad from a video player that’s either embedded in or hovering alongside your blog’s content.

This is the main difference between video ads & display ads.

The rest of the expression is mostly the same- there’s always a publisher. Advertiser, ad creative copy, ad server, and user.

The difference between the two server types is ultimately a technical one, though it’s one that could have a big impact on the design of your video advertising campaigns. It all comes down to what particular ad tags you choose to use, and how your team plans on implementing them in your website code.

Your ad server can be set up to receive requests for both video and display ads. But to be video-capable, it needs to be able to retrieve video ad requests from video players.

That means you’ll need to use a specific type of tag—the VAST 3.0 tag, or an IAB-compliant tag—for any player that will be serving video ads.

The difference between using these tags and using traditional display-ad tags is nuanced but important: when an ad request comes through the VAST 3.0 or IAB-compliant tags, the ad server is able to recognize that it’s being asked for a video ad, and it knows which players are capable of handling those ad requests.

It then automatically routes the request accordingly without needing any further information from the player (meaning no action on your part).

If your site will be used for serving regular display ads (banners), then a display-capable ad server will do the trick.

Other than that, the differences are trivial. Most publishers and users don’t care much about the differences.

Related Read:

Justifying Dedicated Video Ad Servers

If video ad servers and display ad servers are almost the same thing, what’s the purpose of dedicated video ad servers? This is because some publishers focus on video content mainly, thus they want video-oriented ad servers which will help them accommodate the latest video ad unit types to go deeper into video analytics, reporting, and video forecasting.

With the advancement of digital video, publishers want to maximize their earnings per impression, and as a result, they want to make sure that their inventory is as premium as possible.

To increase their revenue potential, publishers are looking for methods to diversify the ad units that they sell on their site in real-time by offering more video ad unit types. This is one of the reasons why some publishers prefer to use dedicated video ad servers.

Video ad servers are designed to accommodate the latest in video ad unit types, giving publishers the flexibility to sell a wide range of video ad inventory types.

Video metrics include completion rates, average view duration, views per visit and more, which just don’t make sense for display ads. A video-specific ad server provides publishers with unparalleled control over the implementation of their inventory so they can maximize yield and drive results across all platforms; desktop, mobile web and even connected TV devices.

In the end, the only reason to pursue a dedicated ad server is if you will never run any other type of ad. But that has a  high chance of limiting your ad revenue streams.

It may save you some hassle if you choose an ad server that can accommodate both display and video ads since most publishers cannot guarantee they will always use one type of ad campaign.

Choosing the Right Ad Server

Video Ad Servers vs Display Ad Servers: Use Both or One? MonitizeMore

The choice between dedicated video ad servers and dual-capable servers depends on specific needs:

  • Content Focus: Publishers focused solely on video content may benefit more from a dedicated video ad server due to specialized features​.
  • Revenue Optimization: A dual-capable server is generally advantageous for most publishers, offering flexibility and maximizing ad revenue potential​​​.

Integrating Video and Display Ads for Maximum Impact with MonetizeMore

You can’t always assume that display ad servers and video ad servers are totally different setups since 99% of decent ad servers provide both while killin’ it in the video & display game on both desktop and mobile devices.

It is important to keep in mind that servers differ, and video-only publishers may benefit from a dedicated video ad server because it is more powerful and provides better reporting and reporting capabilities.

When it comes down to using both or only one ad server, you probably won’t go wrong with an ad management partner that can improve your revenue with both these ad servers.

It’s crucial, however, that you loop it into an ad tech stack that maximizes your ROI. The result is an increase in revenue from both video and display ads, as well as an increase in overall earnings from each page view.

For publishers, combining the strengths of both video and display ad servers can lead to a more comprehensive advertising strategy. This integration allows for a diverse range of ad formats, catering to different advertiser needs and enhancing the user experience with varied content. By leveraging both video and display ad servers, publishers can:

  • Increase Revenue Streams: Diversify ad offerings to attract a wider range of advertisers.
  • Enhance User Engagement: A mix of dynamic and static ads keeps the audience engaged without overwhelming them.
  • Optimize Ad Inventory: Efficiently manage ad space to maximize returns from every impression.

For advertisers, you’re reaching your target audience more effectively as well – after all, why choose between video and display if you can have both?

Need help setting up your video ads? Sign up to MonetizeMore today!

Video Ad Servers vs Display Ad Servers: Use Both or One? MonitizeMore


How are video ads served?

Video ads are served across an array of mediums i.e In browsers on desktop and mobile devices, in mobile apps through in-app video ads and on over the top (OTT) devices.

What are the different types of video ad formats?

Video ad formats are currently of three types i.e Linear video ads (pre/mid/post-roll video ads ), Non-Linear video ads (running side by side with content), and Companion ads (text/image display ads).


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