These products won a Top Rated award for having excellent customer satisfaction ratings. The list is based purely on reviews; there is no paid placement, and analyst opinions do not influence the rankings. Read more about the Top Rated criteria.
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.
Meta for Business (formerly 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.
Criteo Commerce Growth (formerly Criteo Marketing Solutions) helps users to achieve customer acquisition and retention objectives with simple yet powerful automated advertising for the open internet. It features an open commerce dataset to target continuously refreshed, high-intent…
AdRoll provides a platform, performance, and services to meet companys' marketing goals while streamlining marketing operation. Solutions technologies for brand awareness, retargeting, and abandoned cart recovery. And the AdRoll Cross-Channel Performance Dashboard displays campaigns…
Foundry ABM is an account based marketing platform that creates campaigns for ads, web personalization, and sales. Foundry’s proprietary database complements an organization’s first party data to provide the best data to reach, engage, and convert more stakeholders in target accounts.…
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,…
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…
Twitter Ads is a search engine marketing tool built around features such as objective-based campaigns, promoted trends, and in-depth analytics.
Google Ad Manager is a platform for publishers that combines the former DoubleClick for Publishers and DoubleClick Ad Exchange products.
Marin Software is a cloud-based cross-channel 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 retargeting,…
Supporting B2B strategies, the Terminus platform offers tactical playbooks that help teams meet accounts throughout their entire lifecycle. It is a platform rooted in first-party data that surrounds buyers with engaging digital experiences from account acquisition to expansion and…
RollWorks, a division of NextRoll, offers B2B companies an account-based platform to align marketing and sales efforts, and grow revenue. Powered by proprietary data and machine learning, RollWorks’ solutions address the needs of organizations large and small —from those with established…
Skai (formerly Kenshoo) 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.…
Outbrain, headquartered in New York with offices globally, is an internationally known native advertising platform for curating and publishing content across a variety of channels and media spaces, containing editorial controls, analytics for judging impact, and related features.
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.…
AdobeAdvertising Cloud (formerly 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.
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…
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.
StackAdapt, headquartered in Toronto offers their native advertising specialized DSP, supporting programmatic advertising with audience discovery, B2B targeting, and engagement analytics among other features.
Basis from Basis Global Technologies (formerly 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.
TubeMogul was an advertising management platform acquired by Adobe in December 2016. It is no longer available, however its functionality is supplied by Adobe Advertising Cloud.
Yahoo DSP (formerly the Verizon Media DSP, and formerly Oath) combines the former services and technologies of the companies it comprises including the former Brightroll, One by AOL, Right Media Exchange, and ADTECH, as well as Yahoo!'s own ad tech. The solution currently includes…
MediaMath is a demand-side platform that offers off-the-shelf and custom capabilities for brands to reach and influence customers and prospects on any screen. Powered by the company's Brain algorithm which predicts performance and optimal price for bids.
Sizmek Ad Suite, now from Amazon Advertising (acquired December 2019) is a global, multichannel ad server used to create, distribute, customize, measure, and optimize campaigns across a variety of screens. It offers multiple options for creative authoring, streamlined campaign management…
Post Affiliate Pro is designed to run an entire affiliate program from top to bottom, with the exception of processing the financial transactions. However, most payment processors and shopping carts can be fully integrated with Post Affiliate Pro. According to the vendor, this solution…
What is Ad Serving and Retargeting?
Ad serving and retargeting software is most commonly used by marketing departments. It involves displaying text or rich media ads on a website, and re-exposing viewers to customized ad materials. 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).
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, where the vendor conducts negotiation of price and placement for advertisements on the user’s behalf.
Retargeting involves targeting individuals/audience segments who have already been exposed to a company’s promotional material again. An individual’s prior behavior, called ‘intent’ data, give clues about a person’s interests and needs and is used in the retargeting process. The goal of retargeting is to identify potential new prospects and display relevant content based on intent data.
Onsite and offsite retargeting
There are two different types of retargeting that marketing teams can conduct: offsite and onsite targeting. Offsite targeting has traditionally been the retargeting avenue of choice. It involves identifying individuals who have already visited your company’s site and exposing them to more promotional materials (e.g. emails, ads on other sites).
Onsite targeting, also called ‘behavioral targeting’, involves re-exposing site visitors to specific promotional material while they are still on your company’s site. This style of retargeting relies heavily on visitor behavior while they are on the website.
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 - either purchasing something at that moment or later on in the customer’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 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.
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 for individual viewers on a website. This provides very fine control over brand messaging and storytelling.
Integration with ad exchanges: Integrates to a digital marketplace where advertising space (for display, video, mobile ads, etc. ) is bought and sold in real-time auctions.
Ad Reporting & Analytics Features
Ad serving & retargeting software also allows 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.
Ad performance reports: Allows users to generate reports comparing the performance of various ads.
Ad conversion tracking: Tracks ad conversions by campaign and type of conversion (e.g. product purchase, newsletter subscription, filled out a form, downloaded a whitepaper).
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 and Retargeting Platforms Comparison
Before investing in an ad serving platform, consider the following key factors:
Advertising channels: Are you looking for a platform that will allow you to serve ads across various paid channels? Or are you looking for an ad serving platform that is tied to a specific channel? Certain tools like Google Ads, Facebook for Business, and Twitter Ads focus on a specific advertising channel rather than allowing users to purchase ad space across channels like platforms like Criteo Dynamic Retargeting.
User-friendliness: Is it easy to set up ad campaigns within the platform and use the interface? Does it take a long time to become familiar and comfortable with the platform? What level of documentation and support does the vendor provide? Doing a free trial of the tool is a great way to get a better feel for the overall usability and user-friendliness of the platform.
Industry: Are you looking for a platform that’s specifically designed for B2C, B2B, or industries like ecommerce? Certain products are better-suited for either consumer or business user advertising or specific industries like ecommerce.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some products focus on serving ads within a specific digital channel, such as Google search engine results pages (SERPs), Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, etc. Other platforms act as the intermediary between advertisers and ad networks or digital mediums and allow marketers to self-serve purchasing ad space across channels.
A self-serve ad serving and retargeting platform usually allows advertisers to set up pre-defined parameters for their ad campaigns, including which digital medium to display ads on, which user segments to target, ad type, ad placement, the timing of ad displays on specific digital channels, etc.
Prices can vary based on the type of ad serving platform, the volume of ads being displayed, and the number of user licenses required. For example, self-serve style ad platforms can cost as little as $1 per month to get started. Managed ad serving and retargeting platforms are typically more expensive and can cost up to $1,000 per month or more.
Other products like Google Ads allow users to set a specific budget and big on ad placements within their budget range.