Home » Digital Marketing1 » An Overview about the Display Advertising Ecosystem

Are you working in a publisher, adnetwork? Are you a planner in an agency? Or do you run ads campagins on Google Display Network (GDN) or Demand Site Platform (DSP) by yourself? You must be familiar with the display advertising with advertising forms and another system. But have you covered the whole ecosystem of display advertising, the backend system or just known the surface of the iceberg? This article will help you pair the discrete pieces in that ecosystem and understand how the advertising message can be displayed to consumers.

The digital advertising system is without doubt often described with very complex diagrams consisting of hundreds of icons and arrows pointing everywhere. These unnecessary information is what causes the “confustion” and “distraction” to marketers, brands and advertising agencies. In fact, for them, simply seeing the “flow” of the message going from brands to consumers is enough. However, understanding the nature and elements or layers of the digital advertising ecosystem is critical (although very complex) to help each chain: advertising agencies, pulisher, marketers to apply to work more effectively.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Arena described the six-ring ecosystem, each of which represents a distinct area of ​​activity, surrounded by the BRAND, where activities is happening.

The six areas are:


– Media Planning and Buying,

– Content Creators,

– Media Vendors,

– Execution Technologies,

– Media Enhancements,

– Business Intelligence

Each field itself is subdivided into specific segments as illustrated below. (Which words appear in the diagram will be bold and bold, in italic for easy tracking.)


Let’s take Brand as the core element of the problem, as the focus, Brand is also the initiator of the campaign, lacking of this factor will result in having no foundation to form the advertising ecosystem in general. All human activities and advertising technology are for the sole purpose of serving the Brand and the purpose that the Brand intends to do when launching the advertising campaign.

Media planning & Buying: an indication of where the ad will appear


The next circle is for the Brand’s decision on where they want to place the ad: the A or B website, the top or bottom position … For some companies, especially those interesting in data-driven, they can operate and supervise this activity internally or in-house (In-House) based on their knowledge and resourses.

For others, taking action on ideas development, making the plan and buying advertising placements are done through the Agency. Using agencies is to make the most of their capabilities, to increase cost effectiveness, or simply to reduce the cost of personnel and workload to focus on the strategy. This way is being used by many brands. .

The “Newcomer” joining this circle is the Media Management Systems. This is a sophisticated tool that help Brands and Agencies to manage complex campaigns easier. In addition, it also protects the brand including images and data. This system brings Brand out of the era of files, tapes, spreadsheets and makes it faster, more cost-effective in planning, purchasing, analyzing and optimizing campaigns. For simplicity, I will name some of the popular tools that you have heard of or used: ComSore, which gives statistics on internet user behavior as basis for planning a new campaign; using the Social listening tool to get an overview of what “netizens” are saying about your brand on social networks for timely processing; using Display Planner to plan your display advertising campaign, etc.

Content Creators: Creating content is not a matter of the experts, the user is also engaging!


Circle 3 – Content Creator refers to the types of content that the marketer decides to display to reach the consumer. The new era of digital media has enabled the expansion of content and “activates” people – who would temporarily be called completely new gen of “journalists” .

The oldest content producer is Publisher. Then it is Brand Content – content created and spread by the brand itself. In the digital age – and also because traditional advertising is losing its position – all brands are now content creators. They manage the website, manage the brand and manage the specific websites of each campaign (often referred to as Microsite).

As mentioned above, the decline of traditional advertising has “helped” the digital media era to make anyone become the creator of a story, a record, an infographic or a scam. video suction view on Youtube. Such content types are named User-Generated Content.

Both blogs or social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Blogger, Tumblr) are considered user-generated content. Youtube – now known as the largest online video collection channel – also just “starts off” by allowing users to create their own content (video) and then expanding it into content management in a professional way. Or Haivl is a good example of the success of a model that allows users to create their own content.

Social Site is the last missing piece of this layer. This is the main communication channel between the groups in which the individual has been accepted. Sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapshat are places where more than 70% of adults in Vietnam (smartphones and internet users) share views, share photos, and video. This number shows the huge amount of content and the role that Social Site creates today.

Media Vendor – the buying and selling market is increasingly busier


Digital has – almost – created an unlimited system of content, so content publishers seek out ways, means and tools to push the media to the parties in need. In the world, the first porters and sellers of Media are longtime publishers such as ESPN, Time Inc., Condé Nast, and Scripps Networks. And in Vietnam, it’s easy to spot the big namese such as vnexpress.net, 24h.com.vn, etc. In the initial stages, they created a direct sales team to reach customers or Media Agencies to “sell readers” of their content produced by displaying banner ads. With an unlimited number of inventory, publishers can predict the amount of money to sell all the inventory without much difficulty in the producing content procedure – this is totally different from the way television, print, or print media works, where publication / production rates are maintained strictly.

Adnetwork was developed in the 1990s to aggregate inventories from publishers, repackaged and sold to customers based on content or audience. This allows many sites to optimize ad positioning and revenue while agencies and marketers achieve the audience target. From the Agency and Marketer standpoint, Adnetwork really helps with the selection of media channels, placement tracking, ad serving, and position optimization based on the results of the campaign.

After Adnetwork, Digital Media Exchanges came out as a neutral system of computer systems with millions of complex algorithms – where media buying and selling activities were traded like stocks on the stock market. Sellers decide the number of impressions to sell on the floor, while buyers get in the system, check available inventories and conduct automated transactions through the ad server.

Ad exchanges are made in less than 1 second as a way to increase, or even optimize, for all parties involved. They also developed real-time bidding algorithms, whereby sellers sold unused inventories at a fixed price and buyers bid to gain access to the inventory. Depending on the number of bids and pricing structure, the system determines the winner and shows the ad immediately. With this form, the price is calculated based on the needs and target audience that the buyer wants to target.

Moving up to a higher level, DSP (Demand-Side Platforms) serves the Marketer (who is equivalent to Buyers) who are extremely interested in “Demand” in the implementation of Media.

DSP connects to Ad Exchange, Ad networks, identifies the aimed inventories by Buyers, purchases, connects to the Ad Serving, and then optimizes campaigns while returning data to the Agency or advertiser to make the adjacent works: report, analysis, payment …

Agency Trading Desks (ADTs) is a rather new concept in Vietnam, developed by large agencies (usually the Global Agency) with a lot of data collected through the advertising campaigns that they’ve done for customers. ATDs strives to help customers improve their advertising performance and gain added value from the ad itself (such as enriching data revenues.) Some large agencies that hold ADTs include Havas , WPP, Omnicom.

All the systems listed above are made for the buyer, so what does the seller use? SSPs or Sell – Side – Platforms – systems for the sellers (publishers, for example) manage and make the most our of the inventories thoroughly to optimize advertising revenue. In addition, the system is also developed for small websites that allow buyers and sellers to meet each other in a transparent transaction relationship for both parties.

Here is a great video about media vendors on the market:

Execution Technologies: The key to the competitive advantage


In digital media, technology is a powerful tool that engages in everything – from ideas, plans, buy – sell, to ad delivery, to tracking, optimizing, and reporting campaigns. Technology is constantly changing with the algorithms, techniques that make competitive pressure between service providers become more acute: improve or die!

The most basic thing: any ad system needs an ad servers. Ad servers were originally created to serve the needs of networks – with the main role of creating a common reporting system for the entire campaign made on hundreds of websites in the network. Then, ad network get “degraded”, makes rooms for Ad Exchange, DSP or ADTs (mentioned above), pushing Adserver one step further to meet the needs of the seller – the buyer.

Site serving functions as an inventory management system for publishers. Site serving, however, is not the only option; instead, it is possible to use a third-party ad server so that agencies and advertisers can advertise on many websites which will eventually be extracted to the same report.

In fact, any ad technician team can build an ad server, but the most widely used option is to use a widely recognized and widely adopted system in the industry to simplify the work and, more importantly, standardize the report. Mediamind, for example, is the most widely used tracking and serving tool in Vietnam today.

Self-serve DSPs are systems that allow any advertiser to purchase inventory automatically without human involvement. Some anticipate that this form will be the next generation which fully connects sellers and buyers by making the most of the increasingly sophisticated techniques of the system.

Media Enhancements: Non-stop campaign optimization


Beyond the mundane design with still images or normal animated images, Rich media is a trend that is “warly welcome and friendly treated” in Vietnam right from the moment when it steps in. Rich media creates more interactions with very prominent visual elements. In addition, it offers more creative space for the brand to deliver the message. Google’s rich media data cloud offers quite a few demos and formats that you can check for reference.

Besides creating new ad formats, optiming the design – Creative Optimization – allows dertemining which designs bring the highest effectiveness. The most commonly used method is A / B testing or the new technology, dynamic creative to find out which banner brings the highest effectiveness compared to the criteria defined at the beginning of the campaign.

While designers are constantly inventing new ideas to both ensure the aesthetics and meet the needs of the brand or campaign, the media department analyses day and night to choose where the ads would show up to the right customers. Both units need to work closely if they do not want to fall into the everyone does his own way situation.

However, determining where an ad is placed and who sees it is not easy. The time where placing the banner on the website just because the content of the we is female to “preempt” the female readers has gone. Today, all work is based on data. That is the reason for the Demand Management Platform (DMP). DMP is like a repository – where data is collected, processed, and sorted. After a complicated process, DMP will provide data for Adnetwork and DSP so that those systems deliver the ads to the right audience automatically.

All online ad tracking systems are implemented through the code system, so how do you manage all of that code? Tag Management is the answer. Tag management automates the management of all tags to focus on a single tag to speed up ad delivery. Clearly, tag management enhances the user experience as the web loading speed is faster, all the information you need to know comes in 1-2 seconds instead of waiting. As a matter of fact, time onsite, page views, conversion rates will be higher compared to not using Tag Management without considering the content of the web. , product quality, etc.

The last round of this layer is Ad Verification and Privacy. With the help of this system, advertisers can be relieved that the ads being displayed are running exactly where they want, that the ads are seen by humans rather than the computer, that the environment containing the ads does not contain any content that their advertisers or clients disagree with. Google and Facebook are doing a great job of not only building their own defenses system, but also a series of cross-checking tools that now allow users to self-report if they find fault.

Business Intelligence: Intelligent people make the machine smarter


The IAB Arena’s outer circle is dedicated to the macro systems that allow each of the stakeholders in the display advertising ecosystem to manage their business more effectively. One of the systems is the Site Measurement and Analytics, which is developed to help content creators (like the publisher). Publishers use tags to report usage statistics on multiple pages including the content on them. With this data, the publisher can find ways to develop and improve content to attract more readers (and of course, then sell more ads).

Media Attribution is referred to as a system that helps marketers see the overall picture of the campaign in terms of customer behavior from being aware about the brand to purchasing: that in order to reach that purchasing step, there is the contribution of many advertising channels and they interact with each other, affect each other. This is in stark contrast to the outdated reports that only present the final click or impression that generated the order. That’s not right, not enough, and it’s easy to make mistakes in campaign optimization. Some big brands in Ecommerce in Vietnam have applied this system: Lazada, Zalora …

Marketing Reporting & Analytics is a typical system tailored to marketer and agency needs. This can include multiple dashboards that extract data from a variety of sources to get a macro view of your ad spend, performance on engagements, and even actual orders ( real sales).

The final development to bring this reporting system to a new level is the integration of reports from paid media with the social listening system. This “ideal” system helps marketers understand the interaction between paid channels and social activities, to see if the “public opinion” is going far from what is intended to be in the first place? Hope this system soon came out to help our marketers.

The chart below will help you better visualize the above contents.


Hopefully the article is useful for you, any discussion or question please leave in the comment section or contact the author directly.

The article is translated, terms are simplified with more examples in the Vietnamese market and more explanations to help the reader understand easily by Huyen Pham. You can see the original article here.

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Tác giả:

Regional CMO quản lý khu vực Châu Á của Ringier AG - tập đoàn truyền thông đa quốc gia tư hữu lớn nhất của Thụy Sĩ. Anh từng giữ các vị trí cấp cao khác tại Ringier như CEO Marry Network và Marketing Director của MuaBanNhaDat. Anh từng đảm nhiệm vị trí CMO và là thành viên team sáng lập của GO-VIET (đối tác chính thức của GO-JEK tại Việt Nam) khi hãng này xây dựng chiến lược thị trường và ra mắt thành công tại Việt Nam. Anh cũng là người sáng lập UAN - cộng đồng Marketing và Truyền Thông năng động nhất hiện nay.

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