Understanding Today's Digital Advertising Landscape and How It's Evolved

Advertising Reads Jan 02, 2020


Digital advertising has evolved along with advancements in technology over the decades. This field progress has provided an unimagined level of tools and sophistication to marketers, and at the same time, introduced complexity and a host of other problems.


In this digital age, whether someone wants to be a professional or a novice marketer out of personal needs, then the ideal place to start is to have an understanding of the ins and outs of the digital advertising ecosystem.

But where do you start? Digital advertising is a vast and complex world. How to make sense of what’s relevant and helpful to your setup, to your business or personal needs, and what you may need is just a fraction of what available.

If you are in here to figure that out, then thank your lucky star. From here on out and the rest of this article, I am breaking the system down into small junks and adequately label them and assign the particular use cases to that each component.

Each section described just enough details to provide an overview so that you can quickly dip into the relevant info and drink from it, or lead you to the place where you can do deep dive.

📜 History lesson

To understand digital advertising's current state, we have to take a journey back into the past to see how it has evolved.  From early rudimentary stages to the present system, much more technologically advanced, where the advertiser can run the campaign with ease on any interconnected ad-networks.

So, in the early days, it pretty much the memic the abstract model of how things happened in the print world, and only the specific steps in the process automated due to the limitations of then-available technology.

Parties having the space to offer in their digital products — like websites, apps, blogs, and games, etc. — sell their inventory to agencies. And, in turn, Agencies make those inventory available to marketers who are in need to promote their products and services; they buy those space and execute their campaigns.

Understanding Today's Digital Advertising Landscape and How It's Evolved - renttheant.com

Here is how that system worked from end to end

In the physical world

  1. The business needs to promote products/services.
  2. Reach out Ad agencies to mediate with publications.
  3. Get the creative copies ready and validated for impact.
  4. Agency works with one or more publishing networks such as paper, magazines, and books.
  5. Then the publisher prints and displays promotions.

Early-stage Ad-networks

  1. The business wants to promote a product/services.
  2. Reach out Ad agencies to mediate with publications.
  3. They set up their campaign on digital Ad Server.
  4. The ad server has connected with the publisher.
  5. The publisher displayed an ad each time a user loaded a page.

Programmatic Ad-networks

The overall system fragmented into three different unique components, and each is doing the designated role of matching demands with supply. And these components are identified as Demand-side platforms, Ad Exchange like the digital marketplace, and Supply-side platforms.

  1. A business wants to promote a product/services
  2. They reach out to DSP's like Google and Microsoft and set up their ad campaign account.
  3. Each DSP's are having demands from individual businesses, ad agencies, and media companies.
  4. To fulfill their publishing real estate requirement, DSP's connected to an Ad-Exchange where the bidding takes place.
  5. The Ad-Exchange is the mediator between DSPs and SSPs, and digital marketplace where digital bidding takes place.
    are connected to the SSP.
  6. On the other hand, SSP's role is the platform for listing for a publisher with ad space to rent in their digital assets like blogs, news portals, web apps, etc.
    Integrated SSP's and the Publishers system can feed ad creative assets automatically without any manual interventions.
  7. Based on advertiser assessment of the match with the publisher platform and the winning bid will earn the right to display their ads. Then, the publisher asset renders the ad impression each time a user loads a page.

When you visualize this playing out in the real-world, Early-stage ad-networks are having several drawbacks to satisfy modern-day needs. And when faced with consumer needs in the fast-paced world and the need to reach out and respond in real-time. Such a system barely met the insatiable appetite of CMO's with multiple hand-offs, planning, and speed-to-market limitations.

💻 Programmatic Advertisement

So, they turned to technology for solutions, in the last decades, the maturity of technologies and the advent of 📱mobile and ☁️cloud computing, the industry has set up one of the intricately connected platforms of different parties.

In the name of programmatic advertising, the main objective is to eliminate as many manual steps from the digital advertising process.

You may have come across these 👽 alien acronyms on the web. Here is the small list among those key player’s info to wrap your mind around.

👩‍💻DSP — Demand-side Network

Demand site platforms, you can think of it as Amazon.com for media planners, marketers, or anyone who wants to run their ads on the web.

So, the logical next step would be to ask, from where this DSP’s get this ad inventory, aka spaces to stick my poster.

👨‍🎤SSP — Supply-side Network

Supply-side platforms, this one you think of it as the backend of the amazing.com, where an individual third party seller comes and makes their product available for purchase.

3rd party sellers are the publisher with digital assets with structured ad spaces to rent it out.

That’s why you see display and text ads when you visit your favorite blocks or use any search on Google or other search engines.

🧑‍💻Real-time bidding

Without this setup, every sale has to be booked in advance and for the duration. But, with programmatic advertising, it gives birth to dynamic scheduling of ad space, and get into the bidding war to compete for those lucrative and promising ad space in publisher platforms.

With thinks switched back to technology, you can micro-target your audience around the world, show your ads when you think your audience receptacle, and you can price your competitors out if your pocket is deep enough.

🏦 Ad Exchange

So, in the world, there are more than one DSP’s and SSP’s, and they want to get the best price and utilization for their assets.

That's where ad exchange comes in; it's another layer into this digital advertising ecosystem and playing the role of middleman between buyers and sellers.

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