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Ask HN: An Ad Industry Primer?
8 points by iwritecode 1551 days ago | hide | past | web | 6 comments | favorite
Hey Everyone,

I've recently started building out an ad platform with some fellow engineers - we're learning a lot and seeing some early successes after a bit of a rough start. That said, I'm hoping to get out in front of the curve over the next few months and get a better understanding of what the state-of-the-art is wrt ad tech and really just get a better grasp on the industry and what's expected from potential buyers/advertisers.

In iteration one, we've built a solid but familiar and antiquated system - CPM-based media adversting. That's not so terribly difficult. What I'd like to get in front of is the industry parlance for the things we're likely to encounter as we start to built a more sophisticated platform.

So - if anyone out there is in ad tech - and if anyone would care to point me to a recent primer on the business of ads, I'd be most grateful. A cursory glance at Google has yielded very little. I think I'm just looking to understand the (seemingly) very large ecosystem of the ad world and find a natural entry point into understanding the key roles and responsibilities.

From a newcomer's perspective - there's a dizzying amount of stuff happening: There are the SSP folk, the DSP folk, the Networks and Exchanges - there's CPM, CPC, CPA - there's Fixed-Cost, RTB, and Auction-based models - there's CTC, CTA, DR, etc. - there is Targeting, Retargeting, and Personas. And I'm sure this represents probably 10% of the total surface area.

The answer is probably: find someone that has worked in the business for 10 years and ask them to coach you but I'm hoping that one of you has come across some valuable presentations or pdfs that you'd be willing to share to help me start sorting through some of this before I encounter it.

Thanks for listening.

EDIT: Grammar

You're asking for a business primer, but you're referring (basically) technologies. The ads business is not driven by technology (maybe that is your realization?).

It sounds like you've heard of most of the acronyms, so what is it you think you're missing. ~90% of ad buys are auctioned CPC or reservation CPM. Direct and exchanges "big deals" but most ad startups attempt to optimize a component (in Google this kind of image: http://www.cogmap.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/LUMA-D... was a classic "explanation" of the ads ecosystem). As you can see, serving is a small part, and the majority of that ecosystem works on reservation CPM or bid CPM.

My question to you is, if you know these tehnologies, what is your actual question (other than coming to grips with the complexity).

The question is this: I'm seeking someone or something to validate my naive and nascent understanding of a seemingly complex and somewhat opaque host of concepts and patterns that the industry leverages for delivering ads. A list of terms and an acronyms is far, far away from an understanding of how things work or work together optimally.

Maybe most people just use dfp but I'm guessing that a number of publishing oriented startups and new businesses are having to learn and grapple with this stuff - was hoping to learn a bit from the collective

I was at the same point about a year ago. I never really found a single primer, and I looked. What I realized is the industry is complex because it is fragmented by tons of companies doing their own thing, not because of any real inherent complexity.

I started following adexchanger.com pretty closely and I read through their archives, which helped a lot. Adexchanger is good because it gives you a chance to see what companies are doing, and how they sell themselves.

I thought this might be the case. Thanks for the insight - I've been trying to just read as much as I can. I'll spend some time with adexchanger.

Well, since most folk are pretty much inventing it as they go along, I guess all you can do is start here: http://www.lumapartners.com/lumascapes/display-ad-tech-lumas... and work through what each company offers, then try to find a niche for yourself in the ecosystem.

Ad Ops Insider helps you fill out some gaps after you finish looking at Kawaja's chart: http://www.adopsinsider.com/

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