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Ad Serving & Retargeting Platforms

Best Ad Serving & Retargeting Platforms

TrustMaps are two-dimensional charts that compare products based on satisfaction ratings and research frequency by prospective buyers. Products must have 10 or more ratings to appear on this TrustMap, and those above the median line are considered Top Rated.

Ad Serving & Retargeting Platforms Overview

What is Ad Serving and Retargeting?

Ad serving involves displaying text or rich media ads on a website. This can be either the company’s own or another website that has auctioned off digital real estate (such as a blog or news site). Ads may be displayed in the form of banners or pop-ups.


Retargeting involves displaying ads to specific individuals/audience segments based on prior behavior. The goal of retargeting is to identify new likely prospects and display relevant content.

Ad Serving & Retargeting Platforms Features & Capabilities

Ad Campaign Features

The first major function of ad serving & retargeting software is to allow users to create and/or display ad campaigns. Common features include:

  • Ad campaign creation: Allows users to programmatically create ads and build new campaigns within the tool.

  • Ad deployment: Allows users to quickly and easily deploy new ad campaigns from within the tool.

  • Display advertising: Supports banner and rich media display ads, including video, audio, mobile, etc.

  • Ad display and retargeting segmentation: Allows users to display and retarget ads to audience segments based on demographics, location, account, role, or other profile aspects.

  • Sequence targeting: Allows users to create ad sequences that have several stages covering different topics or products. Individual viewers are shown ads in a particular order across websites. This provides very fine control over brand messaging and storytelling.

  • Integration with ad exchanges: Integrates to a digital marketplace where advertising space, usually for display, video, and mobile ads, is bought and sold in real-time auctions.

Ad Reporting & Analytics Features

The second major function of ad serving & retargeting software is to allow users to understand the results of their campaigns. This allows them to adjust future campaigns accordingly. Common features include:


  • Ad dashboards: Dashboards for analyzing and/or optimizing ads

  • Ad performance reports: Allows users to generate reports comparing the performance of various ads or ad performance

  • Ad conversion tracking: Tracks ad conversions by campaign and type of conversion—the customer might have clicked on the ad and then purchased a product, subscribed to a newsletter, filled out a form, downloaded a whitepaper, etc.

  • Ad attribution reporting: Generates detailed reports that attribute conversion to a combination of different touch points (ads, and other factors) leading up to conversion.

  • Cross-channel ad management: Provides an integrated view or control panel that allows users to manage their ad campaigns across a variety of platforms in one place.

  • Ad forecasting and optimization: Ad forecasting models predict campaign performance to assist with optimization.

Ad Serving Options

Some ad serving products take a self-service approach, allowing users to micromanage, test, and deploy these campaign elements themselves. Others use a managed service approach, including media buy, which is the negotiation of price and placement for advertisements on the user’s behalf.

Retargeting Ads

Online behavior is considered to be “intent” data or clues about a person’s interests and needs. Intent data forms the criteria for retargeting rules. There are two main types of retargeting criteria: onsite events and offsite events.


Onsite events include things like searches within the company’s site, pages and products viewed onsite, abandoned shopping carts, arrival to the site, and email interactions.


Offsite events include things like web searches activities on social media, actions like downloading something or playing an online game. They also include browsing content about similar topics or competing brands.

Advertising Management and Ad Tracking Software

Some ad serving & retargeting software allows users to manage and track advertising campaigns across multiple channels. This is also called cross-channel campaign management or cross-channel advertising. Ad performance is measured in terms of conversion. Conversion can be at that moment (purchasing something online or filling out a form) or later (where the ad was a touchpoint in the buyer’s journey). More advanced ad management tools have analytics features that can help users optimize ad spend for maximum engagement or conversions.

B2B vs. B2C Retargeting

Technology and marketing practices around ads aimed at consumers, including retargeting based on offsite behavior, is more mature than for ads aimed at businesses. However, B2B marketers are becoming more sophisticated at using automated personalization methods like retargeting and sequence targeting within their complex sales cycles.


Currently, several B2B ad serving & retargeting products are steering the market towards account-based advertising. Account-based ad targeting is a component of account-based marketing (ABM), a B2B marketing strategy that is quickly growing in popularity.

Pricing Information

Self-service SMB Ad Serving and Retargeting Platforms cost about $1 per month per account. A managed service engagement is likely to cost in the region of $1,000 per month. Enterprise self-service platforms can be significantly more expensive, but there is a tendency to only charge for the number of people who actually engage with ads.

Ad Serving & Retargeting Products

Listings (1-25 of 109)

Google Ads (formerly AdWords)

647 Ratings

Google Ads (formerly AdWords) is Google's pay-per-click online advertising program. With Google Ads users set their budget and choose where their ads appear in search listings, and on partner websites. Google Ads uses cost-per-click (CPC) bidding.

Google Marketing Platform (formerly DoubleClick)

144 Ratings

Google Marketing Platform (a combination of former DoubleClick advertiser tools and Google Analytics 360 Suite) is a set of tools for marketers to manage their advertising campaigns. DoubleClick was acquired by Google in 2008. It focuses on uploading ads and reporting their performance and also...

Marin Software

61 Ratings

Marin Software is a very popular cloud-based cross-channel marketing advertising campaign management platform which integrates many tools and functions, and it is the name of the company in San Francisco that issues the software. Marin touts cross-display (including mobile-optimized) advertisement...

Facebook for Business

342 Ratings

Facebook for Business is a search engine marketing solution built to drive sales and increase brand awareness via custom ad creation, ad targeting, and robust analytics.

Twitter Ads

94 Ratings

Twitter Ads is a search engine marketing tool built around features such as objective-based campaigns, promoted trends, and in-depth analytics.

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

104 Ratings

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions is a recently (2015) expanded marketing platform for reaching audiences through the popular Linkedin work-oriented social network that includes modules like the Lead Accelerator (supporting segmentation features to improve conversion), Sponsored Updates, LinkedIn Onsite...

Acquisio

25 Ratings

Acquisio is a performance marketing solution that enables digital marketers to manage, report, and optimize on all digital advertising initiatives in one easy-to-use dashboard, across search, social, and display. According to the vendor, this solution provides the most powerful optimization...

Kenshoo Infinity Suite

26 Ratings

Kenshoo Infinity Suite is a cross-channel advertising solution for search marketing, social media and online advertising. The product aims to give advertisers and agencies the control and automation needed to make better investment decisions across search marketing and online advertising.

OpenX

26 Ratings

OpenX is an ad serving platform. It is sold option as a hosted solution for can be purchased as an installed application. It allows for easy inventory management , geo-targeting of ads by country, and provides statistics for each ad placement.

AppNexus

25 Ratings

AppNexus AppNexus offers online auction infrastructure and technology for data management, optimization, financial clearing and support for directly negotiated advertising campaigns. It integrates with advertising sources including Google's DoubleClick, Microsoft's AdECN, and aggregators.[3]

Sizmek

23 Ratings

Sizmek is the rather extensive eponymous advertising / marketing platform from the company of the same name recently formed and gone public as a separate entity from its former body (Digital Generation, Inc, or DG) in 2014. It's focus is on broadness: it is meant for advertisers and agencies...

Adobe Media Optimizer

27 Ratings

Adobe Media Optimizer is an ad management product and is part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud. It delivers a rules-based bidding solution that improves the performance of search engine marketing campaigns and is integrated with Adobe Analytics.

LinkedIn Lead Accelerator

59 Ratings

LinkedIn Lead Accelerator is part of LinkedIn's Marketing Solutions and based on the technology acquired with Bizo in 2014. Bizo no longer exists as a separate entity.

Terminus

16 Ratings

Terminus Account-Based Marketing helps B2B marketers orchestrate ABM campaigns to engage key decision-makers at best-fit accounts. No contact data is required. According to the vendor, Terminus finds the right people in those companies and serves them ads across the web, mobile, video, and social...

Basis DSP

11 Ratings

Basis DSP from Centro is a programmatic ad buying platform supporting digital advertising buying and placement across varying channels. Since the acquisition of SiteScout the platform also contains technology from the SiteScout AdServer.

Criteo Dynamic Retargeting

22 Ratings

Criteo Dynamic Retargeting promises to help you re-engage shoppers across marketing channels and drive measurable sales. According to the vendor, Criteo generates an average 13X return on ad spend at significant sales volume and consistently wins 90% of competitive performance tests. The product...

StackAdapt

3 Ratings

StackAdapt, headquartered in Toronto offers their native advertising specialized DSP, supporting programmatic advertising with audience discovery, B2B targeting, and engagement analytics among other features.

Epom Ad Server

2 Ratings

Epom Ad Server is the solution created for Ad Networks that helps to manage advertisers, run and customize all the campaigns from one place, increase revenue using a system of reports and much more. Some key features include: Cross-platform: display, mobile, video, in-apps ads, Back-fill mobile...

Simpli.fi

4 Ratings

Simpli.fi is the eponymous flagship product from the company headquartered in Fort Worth, for programmatic media buying. It is a data management and demand-side buying hybrid platform (DMP / DSP).

AdGear Advertiser

3 Ratings

AdGear Advertiser is a cross-channel, third party ad server for publishers, networks, advertisers and agencies. Some key features include: Cross-channel Attribution, Dynamic Ads and CRM Integration.

Smart AdServer

3 Ratings

Smart AdServer is a French ad server provider with a large international presence. Customers tend to be European media outlets. Smart AdServer It has been a subsidiary of the Axel Springer Group since 2007.

ADTECH

10 Ratings

ADTECH is a cross-screen ad server and digital media management platform for publishers, networks, advertisers and agencies.