Pricing: Quick Comparison of 10 Ad Servers

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ad server pricing

Whether you're looking for a cheap, expensive or free campaign management software, the list of ad servers below may help you out. Here, we're comparing the costs of ad serving between 2 million and 1000 million ad requests per month. Over the last years, ad serving costs have been greatly reduced. Price rates were collected in March 2018 directly via the vendor's website.

Ad Serving Costs Comparison

Toggle eCPM Calculation
Company Website Demo Trial 2M 10M 50M 100M
Revive no no FreeFreeFreeFree
Rontar no no $60$300$1,500$3,000
AdButler no no $159$341$996$1,491
AdGlare yes yes $199$349$999$1,799
AdSpeed yes yes $169$349$999-
Epom yes no $106$360$1,050$1,800
Adspirit yes no $95$450$950$1,800
AdvertServe no no $200$475$1,475$1,975
AvidAdserver yes no $99$600$2,500-
AdZerk no no -$1,000$1,000$2,000

ad server comparison
NEW: Ad Server Top 25
Interactive list to compare the top 25 ad servers (2019).

How can an ad server earn you money?

If you're a publisher, an ad server may actually earn you more money than it costs. By intelligently serving high-paying ads first, you'll be able to squeeze out a maximum revenue when monetizing your website. Ad serving platforms like AdGlare can backfill a zone with ads from a lower tier (i.e. from an ad network), so you can achieve a 100% fill rate.

Moreover, with the latest advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, modern ad serving technology can estimate the CTR for a given visitor in real-time. This increases your revenue in case you're paid on a CPC basis.

Beware of hidden fees

Some third-party ad server companies, like AdButler, charge for CDN hosting: those additional fees are not included here. Especially if you're serving video ads, charges may increase rapidly.

Similarly, some vendors may charge you for applying a white label to your ad serving domain (i.e. ad serving from your own domain by adding a CNAME DNS entry).

Ad Requests vs Impressions (Used to Calculate Costs)

While some companies offer ad serving plans based on the number of impressions, it's more common to be charged based on ad request usage. It's important to understand the difference here. An ad request is counted when the ad tag is called from a web page. That doesn't necessarily mean that an ad will be served: campaigns can have geotargeting rules applied or other restrictions like frequency capping and dayparting. Therefore, if none of the ads are eligible for display, the ad slot remains empty. An impression is counted when your banner ad was actually served on the page.

We can therefore state that the number of impressions is always lower or equal to the number of ad requests.

Keep this in mind, especially if you're making lots of ad requests for native ads or VAST tags. The VAST tag is called from the ad server, but an impression is counted only when the video starts playing.

Digital Advertising Costs v.s. Billboards/Newspapers

To get an idea of how cheap or expensive online advertising is, we can compare the rates with traditional advertising strategies.
Billboard advertising

The High Costs of Billboard Advertising

In New York, price rates for a 4-week rental of a large physical billboard like the one above are at a stunning $14,000. During that period, your advertisement may be seen as much as 32 million times. To put that in perspective: that's about $437 for 10 million impressions, or an eCPM of $0,04375. Major disadvantages here are the inability to accurately count how many times your ad was seen, and not being able to target the ad to a selected audience.

...and the Insane Costs of Newspaper Advertising

Newspaper advertising isn't cheap either. The price for a full-page ad in The Washington Post (year 2017) will cost you about $163,000. With a circulation of about 551,000 daily printed newspapers, we'll end up calculating an eCPM rate of $295. If that didn't shock you: there's even no guarantee that your ad will actually be seen by a reader.

A few notes

  • AdGlare cannot guarantee the rates above are still valid as of today. If you're the representative of an ad server company and wish to be added to this list, or if the information above has been changed, please contact us.
  • Do you want to compare the pros and cons of a free open source ad server live Revive and commercial ad server solution like AdGlare? We've written a complete article about this.
  • For an in-depth review of 10 of the best ad servers, check out AdGlare's review on this page and this page.

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