Ads - Random Notes

Last Updated: 2022-02-01


Online advertising can be charged in different ways, for example:

  • CPA (cost per acquisition)
  • CPC (cost per click)
  • CPM (cost per mille) 1000 ad impressions
  • eCPM=effective CPM
  • CPD (cost per download)


  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • CTR (click through rate) = clicks / impressions

RTB and OpenRTB

RTB = Real-Time Bidding

OpenRTB: open industry standards for communication between buyers of advertising and sellers of publisher inventory. https://openrtb.github.io/OpenRTB/

Inventory Types

Priority: Guaranteed > non-guaranteed fixed inventory > non-guaranteed auction > open auction / RTB

  • Guaranteed: traditional or Programmatic Guaranteed (PG). Contracted impressions, 1:1 deal, fixed cpm, high priority, targeting can't be changed once the deal is setup
  • Non-guaranteed: no contractual obligation
    • non-guaranteed fixed inventory: 1:1 deal, agreed upon price, was known first look or preferred deal (first look at this advertiser before check others or in open auction) if you bdid with XCPM and I don't have a guaranteed deal you will get the preference before anyone else, however the number of impressions is not guaranteed
    • non-guaranteed auction (private auction): 1:many (publisher:advertiser) deal, floor price limit, previously known Private MarketPlace (PMP) "If you bid with X CPM or higher I will see the inventory to the highest bidder in the (private) auction"
    • Open Auction / RTB

A Programmatic Guaranteed (PG) deal is a fixed number of impressions the buyer has committed to purchasing. CPM, ad sizes, and start / end date for the deal are all fixed.

Ad Formats

  • branding ads: for customers to see the ads, rather than click them; cheaper, harder to measure, for impressions, brand awareness (e.g. tv ads or Google Discovery campaigns(share brand story across Google's feeds on YouTube, Discover, Gmail)
  • direct response: consumer can directly respond to the ad, like clicking the "buy" button, or "download" the game or app.
  • dynamic ads: creative is dynamic based on the content and the user. E.g. you are seeing ads from Amazon but the merchandise inside the ad is different from time to time or from person to person.

Ad Targeting

  • remarketing ads
  • topic
  • in-market: people who are actively researching and intending to buy products or services you (or your competitors) offer; to acquire new highly qualified customers and drive incremental conversions.
  • affinity / icm (Interest Category Marketing): types of pages a user visits and how often they visit them, then associates relevant affinity segments with that user’s browser.

Google Surfaces

  • O&O (owned-and-operated)
    • Search
    • Gmail
    • Maps
    • Discover: the feed in the "Google" mobile apps
    • YouTube: slightly different than other O&O, e.g. the video creator gets a share of the revenue. For other O&O, 100% of advertiser spend goes to Google.
  • GDN

Example Flows

  • Google Ads / Google AdSense: advertisers buy from Google Ads, publishers sell from Google AdSense
  • Google Ad Manager: publishers manage their own ads business (advertisers can work directly with the publisher, not going through Google Ads / Google AdSense)
  • Advertisers go through non-google DSP (Demand Side Platform) + non-google Exchange to buy ads
  • DSP + AB (Authorized Buyers, a.k.a. real-time bidding) + AdX (AdX is Google's exchange, but it does not sell Google owned properties like Search, Youtube, gmail, Play store)
  • Google's DSP (Display & Video 360 f.k.a DoubleClick Bid Manager) + AdX or non-google exchange (Display & Video 360 can buy youtube ads)
  • Google Ads can bid on Adsense traffic or AdX traffic and other big exchanges
  • Advertiser -> Google Ads -> Google O&O (Search, gmail, play, travel, shopping, maps, YouTube, etc)
  • Advertiser -> Google Ads -> AdX (access to inventory in AdSense and Ad Manager; O&O are not on AdX)
  • Advertiser -> Google Ad Manager <- Publisher: Publishers use Google Ad Manager to directly sell to Advertisers
  • Advertiser -> DSP -> Exchange <- Publisher
  • Advertiser -> DSP -> AB (Authorized Buyer) -> AdX
  • Advertiser -> DV3 (Google's DSP) -> AdX
  • Advertiser -> DV3 -> Exchange
  • Advertiser -> DV3 -> Youtube (but not other Google O&O)

Fraud and Policies

Most bad actors are Ads Arbitrage Businesses (AABs), who live on the thin margin between the cost of user acquisition and the ads revenue per user. They are only profitable if user acquisition is very cheap, and that leads them to take drastic action.

fb: Advertisement images are generally not allowed to contain text

Ad Networks

Ad Network: Company with both buyside and sellside products (direct relationships with both advertisers and publishers)

If you are a publisher, you can monetize your content through these ad networks:

Mobile app industry has less DSP/Exchange, and more Ad Networks.


  • click-through-rate (CTR)
    • ratio between positive examples and total examples.
    • ctr = (#positive / (#positive + #negative)).
  • conversion rates (CVR)


Some of the top paying AdSense niches:

  • Finance
  • Internet Marketing
  • Technology
  • Web Hosting
  • Internet & Computers
  • Software
  • Health

Some of the lowest paying AdSense niches:

  • Entertainment
  • Arts
  • Movies
  • Celebrity Gossips
  • News blog
  • Jokes
  • Wallpapers
  • Quotes
  • Recipes
  • Photo blogs

Ads News

AdWeek: http://www.adweek.com/




  • people are spending the majority of time on digital(desktop+mobile)
  • advertisers are still spending in traditional channels(print+radio+TV); shifting to digital
  • Consumer journey is no longer linear(as in advertising funnel); it is now fragmented and highly personalized (seeking information and reviews before buying online or in-store)

Ads Delivery: Guaranteed vs Programmatic

  • Guaranteed: ads are delivered as specified upfront, e.g. print ads, tv ads.
  • Programmatic: ads are bought and sold through automated machine processes.

Ads Agencies -> Agency Trading Desks -> Demand Side Platform -> Ad Exchanges -> Ad Networks -> Supply Side Platform -> Publisher Ad Server

The ecosystem: LUMAscape




  • Preferred Deals
  • Private Auctions
  • First Look gives preferred access to inventory for select Authorized Buyers so they can beat any reservation demand.