Best Ad Serving & Retargeting Software66Ad serving describes the technology and service that places advertisements on web sites.AdWords1 Software3 for Business4 Marketing Solutions5 Ads7 Infinity Suite9 Media Optimizer14 Lead Accelerator15 Dynamic Retargeting16 Ad Server19 Advertiser21 AdServer22 AdVantage24

Ad Serving & Retargeting Software

Best Ad Serving & Retargeting Software

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Ad Serving & Retargeting Software Overview

What is Ad Serving?

Ad serving is also referred to as ad display. It involves displaying text or rich media ads on a website, 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. The tool responsible for serving up the ads may also allow users to create the ads and campaigns, or it may simply route ads and display them in the correct locations, as part of a larger marketing and sales stack.

Ad Serving Options

There are a lot of factors, which are represented within an ad serving tool as “settings” or “options,” that determine where, and how often, what size, and for what price an ad will display. 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. Some software, like Google AdWords (and AdSense, for those hosting paid ads on their own site), also has the option to automatically optimize, which eliminates the need for the user to conduct A/B tests etc. However, this option may not provide as much granular control, depending on the goals of the campaign.

Retargeting Ads

Retargeting ads 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.

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. Retargeting onsite events helps engage and convert people who are already aware of the brand and have expressed interest. Offsite events include things like web searches (on a search engine like Google, for example), activities on social media, actions like downloading something or playing an online game, and 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, whether at that moment (purchasing something online or filling out a form) or later on down the line (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. When evaluating products, it is important to pay attention to the cleanliness of the ad management interface, as well as the accuracy and flexibility of advertising reports, as these have been pain points for the category as a whole.

Ad Retargeting Channels

In addition to the variety of sources for the behavioral data that forms the rules or logic for ad retargeting, there are also a variety of channels for displaying the retargeted ads. These are the channels that are managed with multi-channel ad management capabilities. Some products focus on particular channels, while others are designed for coordinating ads across multiple channels. The six digital channels for ad retargeting are:

  • Search retargeting
  • Site retargeting
  • Engagement retargeting
  • Social retargeting
  • Email retargeting
  • Contextual retargeting

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, and stand to gain a lot (since revenue from B2B sales is typically higher than B2C sales) if they can understand how to use automated personalization methods like retargeting and sequence targeting within their complex sales cycles. Currently, several B2B ad serving & retargeting products, like Demandbase (powered by rules, ad spend per account) and EverString (powered by predictive analytics), 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.

Ad Serving & Retargeting Software 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 and adjust future campaigns accordingly. Common features include:

  • Ad dashboards: Dashboards for analyzing and/or optimizing ads are clean, easy to use, and easy to understand.
  • Ad performance reports: Allows users to generate reports comparing the performance of various ads or the performance of certain aspects of ads (like headlines, etc.)
  • 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 accurate, 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 & Retargeting Products

Listings (1-25 of 104)


595 Ratings

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


139 Ratings

DoubleClick was acquired by Google in 2008 but still operates as a separate entity to support its platform, DoubleClick Digital Marketing (or DDM), used to manage (potentially) complex marketing campaigns. To that end it focused on uploading ads and reporting their performance and also provides...

Marin Software

59 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

295 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.

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

97 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...

Twitter Ads

80 Ratings

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


24 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

25 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.


25 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.


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]


22 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

26 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

55 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.

Criteo Dynamic Retargeting

21 Ratings

Criteo Dynamic Retargeting helps 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. The product uses specialized technology and machine-learning to produce the highest...


11 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...

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...

4 Ratings 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.


9 Ratings

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

MatchCraft AdVantage

1 Ratings

MatchCraft Advantage is a search engine marketing (SEM) platform for managing many paid advertising campaigns at once, ideally for agencies managing campaigns for a number of small to midsize businesses with their local marketing efforts. To that end it automates many elements of running Google...


2 Ratings

PubMatic is an ad serving and retargeting solution. This platform is designed to serve as a control panel that provides users with a single view into their advertiser relationships across every screen, channel and format. The vendor says through workflow automation, real-time analytics and yield...

Ad Serving & Retargeting Articles

Cool start-up: Terminus – B2B Account Based Advertising Automation

TrustRadius sat down with Sangram Vajre, Co-Founder of Terminus, a pioneer in account-level B2B marketing automation.  Given Sangram's prior VP role at Pardot and an investment from Pardot's co-founder, this is one to watch...