Digital Audio

What Is an Ad Network & Why Do You Need One?

Jun 20, 2024

Finding, researching, and securing digital audio ad space can be a huge undertaking. Thankfully, there’s a middleman who bridges the gap between advertisers and publishers–the ad network. 

The ad network is a matchmaker for the digital advertising world. As everyone tries to get their foot in the digital door, ad networks provide a reliable entry point to digital advertising. Ad networks have emerged as the major players who can help both long-time advertisers and newbies get skin in the game. So, let’s break down exactly what one is and how brands can utilize it to get ahead in their advertising goals.

What Is an Ad Network?

An ad network is a tech platform that facilitates the sale of ad inventory between publishers and advertisers. They first appeared in the mid-90s as some of the first advertising technology. Although the tech has improved since then, they have not swayed from their original purpose.

Exclusive to online advertising, ad networks collect unsold ad inventory from online publishers and connect with advertisers looking for prime ad spots. They’re the mediators in the digital media trading market. Publishers use them to find buyers, and advertisers use them to find ad inventory that’s the perfect fit. It’s a great opportunity to connect advertisers with publishers with a high number of impressions.

However, using an unvetted ad network may make it harder to target customers and produce fewer data-driven results. As such, it’s important to do your research and ensure you partner with a reputable ad network that can provide the targeting and measurement capabilities necessary to find success.

An ad network may also purchase a portion of the ad inventory and sell it directly to advertisers, resulting in less transparency. Many of them search for premium inventory and offer it at a higher price than the publishers do. They’ll cherry-pick the best ad inventory from the top publishers to ensure premium ad placements.

The key is to find an ad network with inventory transparency, like the SiriusXM Streaming Network or the SiriusXM Podcast Network. With the biggest ad-supported audience in audio, the ad network guarantees a transparent marketplace with insightful budget allocation.

How Do Ad Networks Work?

Ad networks steward the deals between publishers and advertisers. They help match up the two entities and use campaign-management technology to create, run, and track ad campaigns. Here’s how ad networks work.

First, ad networks accumulate a large number of publishers with available ad inventory. Supply-side platforms will alert ad networks when they have excess inventory.

Secondly, advertisers use the ad network’s campaign panel to design their ideal campaign. They’ll include vital information like target audience, budget, and frequency caps. Depending on the type of ad network, there’s usually a range of ad formats to choose from. 

Thirdly, the publisher installs the ad network’s tags on their platforms or shows, and a perfect match to a campaign may be revealed. Once an ad is published, the advertiser has the ability to rotate multiple campaigns within the publisher’s inventory without having to contact the publisher. 

Finally, the ad network will take a cut of the ad revenue or even mark up the ad inventory before selling it. Advertisers will use the ad network’s campaign panel to track and manage their campaigns' performance.

Types of Ad Networks

If you’re searching for an ad network for your specific industry or audience, then you’ll have your pick of the litter. There are many to choose from, with specialities in different industries, topics, audiences, and formats. Here are the three most common types of ad networks.

Vertical Networks

These ad networks are topic-specific, catering to a specific industry or niche, such as fashion, music, automotive, etc. These networks create a more targeted environment, so brands can more effectively connect with their audience.

Premium Networks

These ad networks broker deals with the best and most popular publishers so advertisers can ensure their ads are placed in prime digital audio real estate.

Targeted Networks

These networks have more advanced targeting capabilities, which are specifically built into the ad server.

If you choose a digital audio ad network, like SiriusXM Streaming Network, you’ll have access to an open ecosystem full of flexibility and transparency. Digital audio reaches unique and niche audiences, and audio ads are known to hold a user’s attention longer than a video ad.

Why Ad Networks Are Important

Ad networks create a mutually beneficial relationship for both publishers and advertisers. Publishers get the advantage of waiting for advertisers to come to them. They don’t have to look for buyers themselves, and ad networks supply a consistent stream of advertisers. However, publishers might lose out on revenue they could have otherwise secured if they sold the ad space themselves.

Ad networks do the heavy lifting for advertisers by supplying ad inventory and campaign technology. They make it easier for brands to implement, manage, and track their ads. This type of centralized campaign hub doesn't exist within other media alternatives. Plus, the campaign is set up once, and advertisers can measure and frequency cap ads as needed. Advertisers can also usually buy a large amount of inventory upfront.

With the SiriusXM's streaming and podcast networks, advertisers can reach large, diverse audiences in every life stage. Due to the network’s precise targeting capabilities, brands can efficiently connect with consumers in a meaningful way. Plus, with an 87% addressable audience and 2/3 of the US’s digital audio inventory, advertisers can skyrocket their advertising impact to new heights.

Final Takeaways About Ad Networks

Ad networks bridge the divide between advertisers and publishers. By supplying ad space to interested parties, they can lower the barrier of entry to digital audio advertising. 

However, it’s important to use an ad network that’s transparent about ad placement and provides advertisers with accurate data insights. That’s where we come in. With the SiriusXM Streaming Network and the SiriusXM Podcast Network, advertisers can zero in on their ideal consumer and provide a seamless advertising experience. Ready to get started? Let’s talk.


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    Edison Research Share of Ear Q4-2023

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    Pandora Internal Metrics Q4 2023

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