What is an Ad Exchange & how to 10X ad earnings from it?

Ad Exchange Ad Optimization
Last updated: April 4, 2024 | by Aleesha Jacob

This post was most recently updated on April 4th, 2024

Ad Exchange, or AdX, has emerged as a popular method for publishers to sell their ad space to advertisers in real-time auctions. It has sped up the way online advertising works, and in this article, we will explore the workings of ad exchanges and how they benefit publishers.

Do you know how to navigate the complex world of Ad Exchanges? At MonetizeMore we have established relationships with all the Tier 1 and Tier 2 advertising exchanges. Want help to get access to their demand? Sign up to MonetizeMore today!

What is an Ad Exchange?

You might be thinking, what is an Ad Exchange? Well, it is a technology-driven platform where publishers can sell their ad inventory, and advertisers can buy it. This advertising inventory can include video, mobile, display, in-app and other types.

Through Advertising Exchanges, multiple ad networks come together on one platform. Real-time bidding (RTB) technology is used to buy/sell inventory and determine prices on an impression basis. An Ad Exchange can also be commonly referred to as a Supply-Side Platform or SSP.

For publishers, this is beneficial since they can sell their inventory and potentially get more bang for their buck from a consolidated source containing a large pool of advertiser demand. For buyers/advertisers, it gets easier to reach a mass audience, use advanced targeting technology to increase campaign effectiveness and zero-in on their preferred audience.

This video below breakdown what you can do after setting up AdX:

How Does an Ad Exchange Work?

At its core, an ad exchange is a technology platform that facilitates the buying and selling of digital ad inventory. Publishers offer their available ad spaces for sale on the exchange, and advertisers can bid on them in real-time, using automated processes and algorithms. The highest bidder wins the ad space, and their ad is displayed on the publisher’s website for a set period of time.

Ad exchanges have revolutionized the way digital advertising works. Before ad exchanges, advertisers and publishers had to negotiate deals with each other directly, which was time-consuming and often inefficient. Ad exchanges have made the process much smoother and more streamlined, allowing advertisers to reach their target audience more effectively and publishers to earn more revenue.

One of the key benefits of ad exchanges is their ability to target specific audiences. Advertisers can use data to target their ads to specific demographics, such as age, gender, location, and interests. This means that ads are more likely to be seen by people who are interested in the product or service being advertised, which increases the chances of a successful campaign.

Another benefit of ad exchanges is their ability to offer real-time bidding. This means that advertisers can adjust their bids in real-time based on how well their ads are performing. If an ad is performing well, the advertiser can increase their bid to ensure that it continues to be displayed. If an ad is performing poorly, the advertiser can decrease their bid or stop bidding altogether.

Ad exchanges also offer a level of transparency that was previously unheard of in the advertising industry. Advertisers can see exactly where their ads are being displayed and how they are performing. This allows advertisers to make informed decisions about their campaigns and adjust them as needed.

In conclusion, ad exchanges have transformed the digital advertising industry. They offer a transparent and efficient marketplace for advertisers and publishers to buy and sell ad space, and they allow advertisers to target specific audiences and adjust their bids in real-time. Ad exchanges have made digital advertising more effective and profitable for everyone involved.

 What is a Preferred Deal?

A Preferred Deal is a direct agreement between a publisher and an advertiser. It offers publishers control over pricing and the buyers who get access to their premium inventory. For advertisers, it means exclusive access to desirable ad space at a negotiated rate.

Think of it as a VIP pass for advertisers. Publishers offer select buyers priority access to premium inventory at a set price. This guarantees advertisers the ad space they want, while publishers secure reliable revenue. It’s a win-win for both sides!

Why Do Ad Exchanges Matter?

Ad exchanges have revolutionized the way that online advertising works, making it easier and more efficient for publishers to monetize their websites and content. By offering a transparent and competitive marketplace for buying and selling ad inventory, ad exchanges have increased revenue for publishers and made it easier for businesses to reach their target audiences.

Who Buys from Ad Exchanges?

Ad exchanges are used by a wide range of advertisers, from small businesses to large corporations. Advertisers can bid on ad inventory using automated processes and algorithms, which allows them to reach a large audience without having to negotiate directly with publishers. Ad exchanges offer a level playing field for all advertisers, regardless of their size or budget.

What Is the Difference Between an Ad Exchange a Supply Side Platform (SSP)?

Ad exchanges are like a virtual auction house where advertisers and publishers can buy and sell ad space. It uses real-time bidding (RTB) to instantly match ads with available inventory. An SSP is a software platform specifically designed for publishers letting them manage their ad inventory, access multiple ad exchanges and demand sources, and control pricing.

Here’s a table comparing Ad Exchanges and Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs):

Feature Ad Exchange Supply-Side Platform (SSP)
What is it? A digital marketplace where advertisers and publishers buy and sell ad inventory via real-time bidding (RTB). A software platform that helps publishers manage, sell, and optimize their ad inventory across multiple ad exchanges and demand sources.
Who uses it? Both advertisers and publishers Primarily publishers
Level of Control Offers some control to both buyers and sellers. Gives publishers a high degree of control over who buys their ad inventory, how it’s priced, and optimization strategies.
Features Focuses on real-time bidding, matching ads with inventory, and facilitating transactions. Often includes advanced features like yield optimization tools, data management, reporting, and the ability to create private marketplaces.
Benefits Streamlines the ad buying process, increases fill rates, and maximizes exposure. Maximizes revenue potential, offers granular control, and helps publishers gain insight into their inventory’s value.
Best for… Advertisers and publishers seeking efficiency and a wide range of inventory options. Publishers with significant ad inventory who want advanced control, optimization tools, and access to multiple demand partners.


How DSPs work with Advertising Exchanges

What is an Ad Exchange & how to 10X ad earnings from it? MonitizeMore

It’s easy to get confused and mix Ad Exchanges up with Demand Side Platforms (DSP). These two programmatic platforms are not the same. Instead, they are meant to complement each other.

Ad Exchanges are platforms part of the programmatic advertising ecosystem which makes ad inventory from multiple ad networks available for purchase by advertisers through RTB technology.

To utilize the Advertising Exchange platform a buyer/advertiser needs something that can manage the bids for them. This bid application or software interacts with the exchange’s RTB API and helps the buyer assess available impressions.

The DSP enables the advertiser to automate the ad buying process within a range of multiple exchanges while all the information such as inventory costs, ad placement, ad sizes and more remain transparent.

What are the different types of Ad Exchanges available?

Ad exchanges being the publishers’ marketplace where publishers sell their ad space and advertisers buy it are of 3 types mainly:

  • Open Ad Exchange (Open Marketplace)
    • An open, real-time marketplace where any advertiser can bid on ad inventory from a vast pool of publishers.
    • Pros: Huge reach, lots of potential buyers, easy to get started.
    • Cons: Less control over who sees your ads, prices can be less competitive.
  • Private Ad Exchange (PMP)
    • An invite-only marketplace where publishers handpick which advertisers can bid on their inventory.
    • Pros: More control over pricing and brand safety, fosters direct relationships with buyers.
    • Cons: Smaller pool of potential buyers, can require more setup effort.
  • Preferred Deal
    • A direct agreement between a publisher and an advertiser to sell specific ad space at a set price.
    • Pros: Predictable revenue for publishers, guaranteed access to premium inventory for advertisers.
    • Cons: Less flexibility than open marketplaces.


What is an Ad Exchange & how to 10X ad earnings from it? MonitizeMore


What are the benefits of Private Ad Exchanges for publishers

What is an Ad Exchange & how to 10X ad earnings from it? MonitizeMore

A publisher can decide to set up a private ad exchange for a few reasons. One fundamental reason is the fact that private means higher quality ad inventory for advertisers and higher prices resulting in better ad revenue for publishers.

Let’s say you operate an auto review site and you put your inventory on a private ad exchange for select automakers. Since the topic is so highly related to the advertiser’s core product line, they can increase their spend on your inventory. It could mean changing a once-off buyer into a long-term customer.

Besides the potential for long-term customers, less time, work and money go into monetizing premium inventory this way.

Publishers also remain in control as they can directly specify who gets access to their ad inventory and with that, the price they want to accept for that inventory.

The publisher might even be able to sell less profitable or even non-premium inventory to buyers. If their non-premium inventory has some relation to their premium selection, the chances remain that the buyer might be interested.

Even though private exchanges poses many benefits, it needs to fit your business model. The possibility remains for buyers to pay higher prices than with the open market, so you’ll need to be able to sell and provide the value as perceived.

Accurate and exceptional ad inventory data is crucial to a publisher succeeding with this setup.

Ad Network VS Ad Exchange

What is an Ad Exchange & how to 10X ad earnings from it? MonitizeMore

Both these ad tech companies can seem very much the same but have some key characteristics that set them apart.

An ad network combines the ad inventory from many publisher websites into one platform and resells it to advertisers by adding a certain margin to the inventory. They also group inventories according to specific demographic elements such as user age, gender, location and more.

An Advertising Exchange does not conduct arbitrage as their advertising network counterpart. Here, pricing of impressions and websites where ads appear are transparent which is not the case with ad networks.

Ad Exchanges can also give access to more publisher ad inventories than Ad networks since they integrate multiple sources into one platform. DSPs are used here and include better targeting options as compared to Ad Networks for advertisers.

Best Ad Exchanges for Publishers

As a publisher, choosing the right ad exchange is essential to maximizing your revenue and ensuring that your website is monetized effectively. While there are many ad exchanges available, some stand out as being particularly good for publishers.

Google Ad Exchange

Google Ad Exchange is one of the most popular ad exchanges for publishers, and for good reason. This exchange offers access to a large pool of advertisers, which means that publishers have a greater chance of finding relevant ads that will appeal to their audience. Additionally, Google Ad Exchange has a user-friendly interface that makes it easy for publishers to manage their inventory and track their earnings.

Another benefit of Google Ad Exchange is that it offers a wide range of ad formats, including display, video, and mobile. This means that publishers can choose the format that works best for their website and audience, and can experiment with different formats to see which ones generate the most revenue.


Magnite is another popular ad exchange for publishers. This exchange offers a real-time bidding platform that allows publishers to sell their inventory to the highest bidder. This means that publishers can maximize their revenue by ensuring that they are getting the highest possible price for their ad space.

In addition to its real-time bidding platform, Magnite offers a range of other features that can benefit publishers. These include advanced targeting options, detailed reporting and analytics, and a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to manage your inventory and track your earnings.

Xandr (Owned by Microsoft now)

Xandr is a popular ad exchange that is known for its advanced targeting capabilities. This exchange uses machine learning algorithms to analyze user data and deliver highly targeted ads to the right audience. This means that publishers can maximize their revenue by delivering ads that are more likely to be clicked on and generate conversions.

It also offers a range of ad formats, including display, video, and native. This means that publishers can choose the format that works best for their website and audience and can experiment with different formats to see which ones generate the most revenue.


OpenX is another popular ad exchange that offers a range of features and benefits for publishers. This exchange offers a real-time bidding platform that allows publishers to sell their inventory to the highest bidder, which means that publishers can maximize their revenue by ensuring that they are getting the highest possible price for their ad space.

In addition to its real-time bidding platform, OpenX offers a range of targeting options, including contextual targeting, behavioral targeting, and geographic targeting. This means that publishers can deliver ads that are more likely to be relevant to their audience, which can lead to higher click-through rates and conversions.

Overall, there are many ad exchanges available for publishers, but the four listed above stand out as being particularly good options. By carefully evaluating your options and choosing the exchange that best fits your needs, you can maximize your revenue and ensure that your website is monetized effectively.

Google AdX VS AdSense

What is an Ad Exchange & how to 10X ad earnings from it? MonitizeMore

Most publishers know and use AdSense since it’s one of the biggest, if not the largest, ad network in the world that is owned and operated by Google.

On the other end, Google also offers what it calls its range of Ad Exchange through Google Ad Manager.

AdX is the premium version of AdSense which was built specifically for premium publishers and advertisers.

What is an Ad Exchange & how to 10X ad earnings from it? MonitizeMore

As a publisher, getting access to this ad exchange means putting your ad inventory in front of all the advertisers found in AdSense as well as additional premium/big brand advertisers. Publishers who switch from AdSense to Google Ad Manager with MonetizeMore tend to see a 25%+ increase in their ad earnings.

For the official Google product comparison chart visit this link.

Besides increased earnings, there are other beneficial factors to consider for a publisher when switching over to AdX such as gaining access to:

  • Multiple demand partners and networks
  • Better optimization tools
  • Faster payments from Google via multiple sources
  • Better targeting increases your placement engagement
  • And much more

However, publishers can only gain access to this network by either being invited by Google or joining through one of Google’s certified partners. MonetizeMore is a certified Google partner and can help you get started via our master Google Ad Exchange for publishers’ account.

Click here to switch from AdSense to DoubleClick Ad Exchange

What are some tips for choosing the best Ad Exchange for specific needs?

Choosing the right ad exchange can significantly impact your success as a publisher.

Here are some key tips for choosing the ad exchange that’s the best fit for your needs as a publisher or advertiser:

  • Inventory Alignment: Does the ad exchange specialize in the type of inventory you have? (Mobile app, video, display, etc.). Some exchanges cater to specific niches or formats.
  • Demand Partners: Research the advertisers and demand-side platforms (DSPs) the exchange works with. Do they align with your target audience and brand?
  • Transparency and Reporting: Look for an ad exchange with clear reporting on ad performance and revenue. Ideally, you want to see what advertisers are buying your space and pricing data.
  • Fill Rates: A high fill rate means more of your ad inventory is sold. Ask about average fill rates or look for publisher reviews about the exchange.
  • Technology and Support: Is the platform easy to integrate? Do they offer good support if you have questions or technical issues? Consider this especially if you’re less tech-savvy.
  • Reputation: Read reviews from other publishers and advertisers. Look for any history of payment issues or low-quality inventory.
  • Fees: Understand the ad exchange’s fee structure (percentage of revenue, flat fees, etc.) and how it compares to others.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment: Most publishers use multiple ad exchanges. Start with one or two, monitor performance, and diversify if needed. Track your return on investment (ROI) for each exchange to find what works best for you.

Buzzin’ Trends:

Here’s a look at what to expect in the world of ad exchanges in the coming year.

Publishers have been relying on ad exchanges for many years. However, there is a growing trend of the market moving over to programmatic direct and private marketplaces.

As a publisher, you can pursue a strategy that uses these direct and PMP offerings alongside your core open ad exchange monetization. Having a balanced and sophisticated ad revenue strategy will bring in higher earnings for your site and give you more control over the process.

Media buyers and advertisers for big brands supplement their open ad exchange bidding with these private marketplace deals and work with publishers directly as they can gain a competitive advantage with the right publisher partnership.

How many publishers can reduce their reliance on ad exchanges remains uncertain. Not all publishers have premium traffic that would attract private deals. The same goes for advertisers who all don’t have access to private marketplaces and might not be able to scale accordingly with such deals. Advertisers will still find quality inventory at fair prices on the open exchange.

We see that programmatic direct and PMP deals will not be enough to move the majority of publishers away from ad exchanges completely.

Why MonetizeMore is the Ad Exchange Partner You Need

What is an Ad Exchange & how to 10X ad earnings from it? MonitizeMore

  • Technology That Works For You: Forget complex jargon. MonetizeMore uses cutting-edge ad tech to get you the best results, plain and simple. Expect faster ad loading, smarter targeting, and higher revenue within a year.
  • Beyond Just an Exchange: Not just plugging you in; we offer a full suite of tools for both buyers and sellers. This means more control over how you monetize your site or reach your perfect audience.
  • Experience You Can Trust: We’ve helped 1,500+ businesses of all sizes succeed, from huge campaigns to niche targeting.
  • Focused on Solving Your Problems: Don’t just get more tech; get solutions. MonetizeMore helps you boost revenue, increase visibility, and even fight ad fraud.
  • Results Speak for Themselves: We don’t just promise results; we deliver. Talk to us now about how we’ve helped companies like yours see increased ROI and better campaign performance.

Sign up for a Starter account at MonetizeMore today!

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What are the biggest ad exchanges?

The biggest ad exchanges are Google AdX, Magnite, Xandr, OpenX and Smaato

How do ad exchanges make money?

Ad exchanges typically generate revenue by charging both publishers and advertisers a small percentage of each successful ad transaction. Some exchanges add a markup to the price paid by the advertiser, taking the difference as profit while others may charge publishers a monthly or annual fee to access their platform and services.

Is Google an ad exchange?

Google AdX is Google's ad exchange, where publishers and advertisers connect in real-time bidding.

How do ad exchanges work?

Ad Exchanges are programmatic auction platforms where publishers sell ad inventory, and advertisers buy it. Multiple ad networks connect through one platform, and real-time bidding is used to buy/sell inventory. Participants get access to advanced targeting features to increase their campaign effectiveness.

How do SSPs enable publishers to increase competition and maximize revenue through connections with multiple ad networks & ad exchanges?

SSPs get publishers to connect with multiple ad networks and ad exchanges, which increases competition for their ad inventory helping them make more ad revenue by providing access to a larger pool of advertisers and demand sources.

What is the role of an ad exchange in facilitating the trading of ad inventory between advertisers and publishers?

Ad exchanges act as platforms facilitating the trading of ad inventory between advertisers on a DSP (Demand-Side Platform) and publishers on an SSP (Supply-Side Platform), creating a direct marketplace for buying and selling ad space.

How do SSPs allow publishers to connect with multiple ad networks and ad exchanges?

SSPs enable publishers to connect with multiple ad networks and ad exchanges, which helps increase competition and maximize revenue by offering access to a broader range of advertisers and demand sources.

What controls can publishers set using an SSP to generate ad revenue?

Publishers can set controls like accepted ad categories, minimum price for an ad, and the type of ads they want to display on their websites using an SSP for ad revenue optimization.

How does an SSP help publishers monetize their ad space on websites?

SSPs help publishers monetize their ad space by putting it up on ad exchanges, allowing them to generate ad revenue by setting controls such as accepted ad categories, minimum ad prices, and the types of ads they want to display.


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