Ad Server API Innovative Use Cases

Generally when people hear "ad server", they think of banner ads on websites and apps. And this is totally fair - JavaScript-based ad servers certainly do not provide a lot of flexibility beyond these mediums.

But not all advertisements manifest themselves as rectangular banners, and these innovative ad units are best integrated via ad serving APIs that enable server-side ad insertion. By requesting the ad before you show content, you're able to receive JSON information back and then insert this ad information into your internal content management system before you show your content.

This also allows you to incorporate data that a JavaScript-based ad server would not have access to, making it easy to include ads that need to be:

  • Time specific
  • Location specific
  • User specific
  • IP specific
  • Language specific
  • OS/browser specific

While it is possible to host content on a CDN and use targeting rules to retrieve it for specific users, an ad server API simplifies the delivery process, responding to requests that contain targeting parameters like geo-location, keywords, etc.

Here are some of the more creative solutions an ad server API can provide:

1. Mobile App Notifications

Mobile app notifications from ad server API

Sometimes standard push notifications aren't enough. Perhaps you need to serve customized images or video in your app, or serve notifications to very specific segments of a large userbase. You could filter 50,000,000 users to reach your audience of females from the Bay Area who have logged in at least once per week, but it will be time and labor intensive without an ad server.

By passing user data into your ad server request (or storing data locally with Adzerk's UserDB), you can leverage the ad serving engine to make decisions about which content to serve.

2. In-Store Displays

In-store displays from ad server API

We may not have "Minority Report"-style eye scanners yet (and many would argue that this is a good thing) but digital ads in stores can still offer customized ads by making requests to an ad server. Stores can display different content at different times of day, frequency cap ads to limit how often they appear to shoppers, and even respond to data from the registers.

For instance, if Nike shirt ads lead to more sales than Adidas shirt ads, an ad server could count a purchase as a conversion and optimize its serving so Nike ads appear more frequently.

3. In-Flight Content

In-flight content from ad server API

Ads are often shown during or in between in-flight content, but since these ads are untargeted, they are usually of low value. An airline can make ad requests for multiple placements (i.e. seats) before a flight, using the metadata returned from the ad server to load ad units stored locally on the plane.

A flight that is set to arrive in New York can display ads pertaining to local businesses, like restaurants and other attractions, and demographic data from flyers (such as age, gender, miles flown, etc.) can be used for more personally relevant ads.

4. Wearable Technology

Wearable technology from ad server API

While the small screens of smart watches can't offer the same inventory brands are used to, apps for wearable devices can send alerts and branded messages. As for mobile notifications, an ad server simplifies the process of deploying messages to granular user segments.

An ad server can also work in conjunction with beacons— if a smart watch wearer wanders into a beacon's range, an app can make an ad request passing in the beacon ID, which can trigger any number of messages. This is especially powerful if other behavioral data is passed in the ad request as well.

5. Digital Billboards

Digital billboard from ad server API

Most digital billboards rotate their ads statically, but requesting ads from an ad server can increase the value of their inventory. Imagine billboards that display relevant ads at different times of day (like breakfast ads during the morning commute) or respond to weather and traffic conditions. Making a request to an ad server takes care of all the decision making.

Want to Learn More?

Adzerk is an API-based platform for building your own JSON server-side ad platform. If you'd like to learn more, get in touch with us.