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An Ad Network is a network which connects the advertiser and the publisher. In this case the network mediates between supply and demand.
Sale of advertising space
The main objective of an ad network is to sell the advertising space in specific advertising media. Publishers who have free advertising space contact the ad network. At the same time advertiser which are looking for thematically relevant advertising space also contact the ad network. So the ad network brings appropriate partners together.
Media in the Ad Network
“Ad Network“ can be related to advertisement in various ways. So there can be a network for print media, but also for tv-advertisement. In practice “Ad Network“ is mostly used for online media, because it is usually used in that context. There are many different forms of online advertisement, e.g.:
- Web sites
- Applications (z. B. Instant Messenger)
- Adware (Software, financed by installing other software)
- Streams on Social Media-Channels
If an advertising corporation takes place, Ads will be delivered over a so called ad server by the online ad network. The ad server is connected with the landing page, so the advertisement can be integrated perfectly.
Forms of Ad Networks
In terms of distributing advertisement content it can be differentiated between 3 basic forms of ad networks:
- Vertical Network: The advertiser can control which ad space is used for the publication of advertisement at any time. The advertisers benefit from a high-quality traffic. Great brands usually use vertical networks. 
- Blind network: Low prices make blind networks, especially interesting for direct marketers. However, they have to accept the corresponding lack of transparency. In many cases, they don’t have any possibility to control which media and in which advertising space their advert is applied. Some ad networks offer the possibilty to create negative-lists. Advertising space that is defined in such a list cannot be used for publishing an advertisement.
- Targeted network: This network is focused on a behavioral and context-based selection of advertising spaces. Also the effect in connection with social networks is taken into consideration.
Relevance for SEO
Within SEO ad networks are very important. One well known example is Google AdWords. While some use AdWords to apply advertisement, website operators earn money with publishing these adverts over Google AdSense. Ad networks are an inherent part of SEA and influence their ranking in search engines indirectly. It could have a negative impact when the website operator overloads the page with advertisements which could lead to a loss of the reader’s use. This is also the case when e.g. Affiliate links are not tagged with the nofollow-tag.
- Themenchannels vs. Vertical Networks (German) adzine.de. Accessed on 11/20/2014