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An In-Depth Guide to Top 10 Ad Exchanges for Publishers

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Whether you’re a small or large publisher with an online presence, you’re leaving money on the table if you aren’t monetizing your website. Thanks to programmatic advertising technology, generating revenue by selling ad inventory has never been easier. With the appearance of ad exchanges, publishers worldwide found accessible digital marketplaces to auction off their remnant inventory, ensure higher fill rates, and maximize their CPM through real-time bidding.

The above is why ad exchanges are an essential part of the programmatic advertising ecosystem, making them an invaluable tool for both publishers and advertisers. These autonomous platforms are the epicenter of programmatic ad buying and serve as mediators between supply-side platforms and demand-side platforms.

However, finding the best ad exchange for your business is not an easy task — not all of them are born equal in terms of support ad formats, targeting options, and features. Just because an ad exchange is one of the largest on the market doesn’t automatically mean it’s best suited for you.

But how do you choose the best one? By looking into their potential reach, features they offer, and whether they support the ad formats and devices you’re looking to target! 

That is why we created this list of the ten best ad exchanges on the market to help you make the right choice. So whether you’re looking to take your programmatic advertising efforts to the next level or are just starting, you’re sure to find a suitable ad exchange here.

Without further ado, let’s get to our list!

10 Best Ad Exchanges for Publishers

Here are our choices for the ten best ad exchanges publishers can use in 2021 to boost their ad revenue:

1. PubMatic

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PubMatic is a well-known advertising industry giant, so this advanced ad exchange and advertising platform should be a no-brainer for most publishers. This data-driven monetization platform serves over 171 billion ad impressions daily. That makes it one of the largest ad exchanges on the market in terms of reach.

PubMatic offers publishers an easy-to-use interface, various DMP integrations, and many advanced advertising features like open-source header bidding. This programmatic ad exchange also comes with several features designed to protect advertisers from ad fraud, making it an excellent choice for both publishers and advertisers.

Key Features:

  • One of the most extensive premium ad inventories on the web
  • Open-source header bidding wrapper with multiple different prebid solutions
  • Offers various DMP integrations, inventory quality control, and advanced analytics
  • Integrated ad fraud protection

2. Verizon Media

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Verizon Media is a famous media and technology giant whose services also include an ad exchange. The company prides itself on having a vast number of publishers, advertisers, and partners under its wing. That places them at the helm of the online advertising industry alongside some other industry giants. 

Verizon Media serves around 2 billion ad impressions daily; it also offers various advanced monetization solutions across multiple devices and ad formats. The company provides clients access to advanced inventory management tools, prebidding solutions, and even programmatic direct selling

If you’re looking for an all-rounded and well-established name in the industry, Verizon Media is an excellent choice!

Key Features:

  • Advanced inventory management tools for programmatic, direct deals, and header bidding
  • Increased demand through its marketplace on top of some of the industry’s most sought-after demand sources
  • Audience behavior tracking and analysis tools

3. Google AdX

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Would it surprise you if we said that Google owns and operates the world’s largest ad exchange? It is true — Google AdX trumps the competition in every regard by a long shot!

Google Display Network lets publishers sell their inventory at premium prices as Google AdX has some of the highest CPM in the industry. At the same time, advertisers can use it to serve various types of ads to billions of people worldwide. Google AdX clients even enjoy some of the best audience targeting options in the advertising industry

Google AdX uses both an open-auction and private-auction bidding models to ensure all publishers find their preferred way of selling inventory. The only downside to Google AdX is that it has high entry requirements. This high barrier of entry means that only premium publishers will be able to meet them. But if you can fulfill all the conditions for becoming a partner, Google AdX is guaranteed to be your golden goose!

Key Features:

  • Some of the highest CPM in the industry
  • Advanced targeting and audience filtering options
  • Serves a wide variety of different ad formats like video, mobile, display, and more
  • Has dynamic price flooring, giving publishers more control over how they sell their inventory
  • Extensive account-level filtering options for more control over the ad serving process

4. Magnite (Ex-Rubicon Project)

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Magnite began as a famous supply-side platform under the name of Rubicon Project, but they soon expanded their business model and turned into a programmatic ad exchange. Ever since, they’ve been known as one of the industry’s leading ad marketplaces that many famous names like The Wall Street Journal and eBay use.

Besides offering premium ad inventory, Magnite also gives publishers access to various brand-safety features and advanced header bidding options. If you’re a premium publisher, Magnite also has multiple private marketplaces with only the most sought-after inventory with the highest CPM.

Key Features:

  • Offers access to xAPI real-time exchange and other premium advertisers worldwide
  • Allows publishers to join various private marketplaces to sell their most in-demand inventory at the highest prices
  • Supports various high-end monetization options (e.g., client-side, demand-side, and hybrid header bidding), including video ad support
  • Readily available tech support to help with all necessary implementations

5. OpenX

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OpenX is another well-known ad exchange and public marketplace in the online advertising world. The company prides itself on its transparency and inventory quality. This platform uses its advanced integration technology to combine real-time bidding with various video ad networks and SSPs.

OpenX allows advertisers to zero in on their target audiences with its advanced targeting options and reach only the most relevant consumers. The platform also has various means to protect its users from ad fraud and is even a contributor to the “Certified Against Malware” program.

If you’re looking for an ad exchange that supports various ad formats, has excellent brand-safety tools, and rich header bidding marketplaces, OpenX won’t leave you disappointed!

Key Features:

  • Access to premium header bidding marketplaces and demand partners
  • Advanced impression predictions before entering a deal
  • Extensive video advertising solutions, formats, and selling models
  • Brand-safety tools that help publishers meet TAG’s inventory quality guidelines
  • Includes mobile ad support

6. Index Exchange

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Index Exchange is a digital marketplace and ad exchange that’s been servicing several reputable digital media firms like The Economist and Business Insider for years now. It offers publishers complete control over their ad inventory and pricing; it also provides them with access to some of the most in-demand inventory on the market.

Index Exchange is a member of the Coalition for Better Ads, meaning all creatives adhere to the latest online advertising standards. The platform also lets publishers and advertisers track their advertising stats through its extensive analytics across various metrics like revenue, impressions, etc. Index Exchange prides itself on its customer-first business model and its full transparency toward all clients.

If you’re looking for a well-rounded and reliable ad exchange, you needn’t look further than Index Exchange.

Key Features:

  • A certified member of the Coalition for Better Ads, guaranteeing only high-quality creatives
  • Advanced audience targeting and heavily encrypted real-time identifiers
  • Extensive analytics on various metrics like GEO data, revenue, and impressions
  • Complete transparency regarding earnings and auction data

7. Xandr (Ex-App Nexus)

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Xandr is one of the largest programmatic ad exchanges on the market that helps publishers increase their ad yield by selling inventory in real time. The company started its journey under the name of App Nexus, but they recently rebranded and are now known as Xandr. They currently serve more than 11.4 billion ad impressions daily.

One of the most notable aspects of Xandr’s cloud-based ad exchange platform is that they offer some of the most advanced header bidding techniques like header bidding wrapper. When you combine that with the fact that they support various types of ads, including video, banner, audio, and native ads, it’s clear why they’re held in such high regard.

Xandr has been partnered with big names like Microsoft and Axel Springer for years and has collaborated with other ad exchanges like Magnite to supply their clients with some of the most advanced advertising features in the industry. One thing is for sure with Xandr — you won’t regret choosing them!

Key Features:

  • Xandr’s SSP supports video, display, mobile, native, and audio ads
  • Offers the option to sell inventory to advertisers selectively based on their audience preferences
  • Advanced analytics for measuring and benchmarking inventory performance
  • Allows in-depth insight into inventory validation data to ensure complete transparency in all transactions

8. Smarty Ads

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Smarty Ads is a white-label ad exchange that is a perfect solution for publishers and advertisers looking to get a fully brandable ad management system. This platform serves over 2 billion impressions daily and gives advertisers access to premium ad inventory across multiple real-time bidding marketplaces.

One of the best things about Smarty Ads is that it offers ad inventories on both mobile and desktop, making it a versatile choice for publishers and advertisers looking to reach diverse audiences.

Key Features:

  • White-label ad exchange platform
  • Includes an anti-fraud solution that’s easy to integrate via the platform API
  • Real-time analytics across multiple devices
  • Guaranteed transparency and brand-safety

9. MoPub

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MoPub is a platform whose specialty is app monetization. Publishers and developers can use MoPub to monetize their mobile applications with myriad types of rich-media ads. In contrast, advertisers can use it to reach niche audiences they wouldn’t be able to get to on PC.

This mobile ad exchange platform has more than 1.5 billion users and is particularly appealing for mobile video advertisers due to the growing popularity of mobile video ads. Smarty Ads already works with some of the huge names in the mobile app industry like Zynga and Ubisoft, so you can expect high-quality service and premium inventory from this company.

Key Features:

  • In-app monetization with real-time impression tracking for publishers and developers
  • Mobile-first advertising platform with top-tier demand partners

10. Smaato

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Smaato is another renowned mobile ad exchange company that is dedicated to helping developers and publishers make the most of their in-app inventory. More than 90,000 publishers and over 10,000 advertisers are already enjoying Smaato’s advanced monetization and incredible reach.

The platform currently processes over 150 billion ad impressions monthly, making it one of the top-tier mobile ad exchanges on the market. One of Smaato’s features that publishers wishing to cast a wide net will love is its omnichannel advertising feature. Smaato also has multiple ad fraud protection features in place, so publishers and advertisers can rest assured they won’t lose out on revenue due to invalid traffic.

Key Features:

  • Omnichannel advertising
  • No ad serving fees
  • Ad fraud detection and prevention through an advanced machine learning algorithm
  • Open-source SDK for higher transparency and viewability
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