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Mapping the Mobile Ad Serving

In this article we will discuss the mapping of mobile ad serving. In order to understand it better, we ‎must understand the major differences between online and mobile (when serving ads). In general, ‎mobile ad serving and online ad serving are very much alike; nevertheless, there are some differences ‎that apply specifically to mobile ad serving, which create a slightly different environment. ‎

There are two major differences: Tracking and Speed & Servers.‎


In online ad serving, much of the tracking that is done in campaigns is done with client side ‎tracking (image pixel/script pixel). This is a preferred methodology for advertisers because it is ‎simple to integrate and it measures the calls from a user, and not from the server. In mobile ad ‎serving, the recommended tracking is server side. This type of tracking is preferred because it ‎measures the calls from server to server; much more accurate and desirable, because many ‎mobile devices are cookie-less and the user’s call cannot be relied upon.‎

Speed and Servers:

In mobile environments, speed is most important. Many users have slow connections, and if ‎the browser or app fetched the ad the way it does on desktop connections, the user would be ‎likely to abandon the page before the ad finished loading. Due to this issue, much of the ad ‎serving on mobile is done via the cloud rather than directly on the client’s phone/tablet. So ‎instead of the browser calling a server and then being redirected to another server, the ‎browser tends to call a server directly, which then calls other servers. This helps with ‎connectivity that is much faster than the regular mobile network.‎

Once we understand the major differences, we can now explain how the Ad Serving is mapped and ‎how the flow applies when an ad call is made.‎

mapping mobile ad serving

The user is logged into a web/app server. The call is forwarded to the publisher ad server which is ‎handled by a network seat holder or an agency. The information of the winning ad is then passed back ‎to the web/app server in order to show it to the user. So the major difference is that the call is made ‎by the servers and not by the mobile user (as explained before). All connectivity that had user ‎engagement with the flow is now done by server to server calls.‎

In an online call the ad serving would be directly from the ad server, while the content would be from ‎the web server. As can be seen above, the complete data is coming from servers which are not ‎directly connected to the user.‎

In an RTB sequence, the mobile ad serving is set via the final DSP which is supplying the correct ad as ‎per the user’s profile per segmented factors.‎

In summary, ad serving in mobile closely resembles online ad serving but lacks the user engagement, ‎and as such relies on server engagements. Once the information is ready from all servers, the ‎complete data/ad is presented to the user.‎