If you're new to ad serving, you're probably curious whether you can use your CMS (content management system) to display ads.
In other words, a CMS's information is meant to be relatively static. A news article or blog entry is put at the top of the page, and it's expected for everybody to see the same thing. That article is not supposed to change every time a browser reaches out to a server to fetch and render content.
In most cases, a CMS serves HTML pages and related content like images, HTML5 videos, etc, and it will have built-in tools that make it easy to manage the content. The big three — WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla — all do a great job at this.
But no CMS is specialized at serving ads, no matter if those ads are banners, native ads, or full-out sponsored content.
For instance, if you only had one advertiser, and they were appearing in the same spot to everyone, you could of course just use a CMS to insert this.
The ad decision engine, which is the key differentiator between a CMS and an ad server, is the tool that makes this happen. It ingests rules defined by the publisher (such as enabling 2nd-price auctions to increase CPMs) and advertiser needs (such as $5K spread evenly over a week), and then, out of 100s or even 5000s of ads, it chooses the right one to show in just milliseconds.
Most add-ons that enable a CMS to serve ads (like WordPress plugins) are actually just ad servers by a different name. In general you have to sign up for the ad server separately, and then the plugin hooks into it.
For instance, a major WordPress ad server plugin is Ad Inserter. It's perfect if you have a low-traffic WordPress site. It has the most active installations of any WP ad server plugin and provides an easy way to manage direct deals and Google AdSense ads.
These tools don't provide:
While plugins will work for a vast majority of publishers who just need to hook into an ad network, any larger brand who wants ad customization and revenue scale would be better suited looking at other options.
If you're still unsure of what to do next, we are more than happy to set up a 15-min consultation to walk through your needs and discuss the best path forward. We wish you the best in your quest to launch an ad server!
Chris has worked in ad tech for over twelve years in a variety of roles - giving him customer support, PM, and marketing perspectives from both the advertiser and publisher sides. He's the VP of Marketing at Kevel.