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Best Ad Exchanges for Publishers (Top 10)

Confused which ad exchange to try? Here is a list of top 10 ad exchanges (with features) available for publishers.

Wondering what is an ad exchange? Or confused which ad exchange to try? We got you covered! Here is a list of best ad exchanges available for publishers.

Many publishers, advertisers, and ad tech agencies buy their media through ad exchanges, but there’s often a lot of confusion around what they actually are.

In this post, we discuss ad exchanges (or ads exchange), what they’re used for, and how ad exchanges work.

I. What is an Ad Exchange?

Ad exchange is a digital marketplace, where publishers and advertisers come together to sell and buy inventories. Multiple ad networks, SSPs, and publishers gathered by ad exchange to create a large pool of assorted inventories.

This is then presented to buyers (DSP, advertisers, and even ad networks) to purchase the impressions in real-time.

This big pool of impressions includes display, video, mobile, and in-app inventories. Publishers join this pool in hopes of making more profits from their inventories by accessing the global demand.

In return, ads exchange allows complete control of the inventory to publishers. This includes setting floor prices, adding/blocking demand, setting up targeting criteria, and more.

In order to get started with ad exchange, publishers can contact one directly. However, ads exchanges usually have high traffic and revenue requirements. Hence, small- and medium-sized publishers don’t make a cut. In such a situation, SSPs and ad networks help them access ad exchanges.

II. Why are Ad Exchanges Important?

An ad exchange enables advertisers to easily purchase ads across multiple sites at once, instead of negotiating purchases directly with specific publishers. It’s an efficient way of buy and sell advertising.

III. Ad Networks vs. Ads Exchange:

One might think Ad Network and Ad exchange are the same thing. But, they’re different. Ad networks mainly aggregate inventory from a range of publishers, and then they mark it up and sell it for a profit. That’s their business model.

Compared to ad networks, the ad exchanges are more transparent because they enable buyers to see the exact price at which impressions are being sold for.

Read more: Ad Networks vs Ad Exchange

IV. Ad Exchange Benefits:

Ads exchanges help publishers get the best price for their ad space and offer advertisers the ability to reach out target audience in the right time and context.

I. Ad exchange benefit for publishers:

1) Set minimum CPMs for inventory units; filter and block ads with sensitive ads or content competitors

2) Choose ad formats and style to define the types of ads that would appear on the web page.

3) Create customized combinations of corner style, fonts, color and apply them to different display ads at a time.

4) Choose ad location on a web page.

II. Ads exchange benefit for advertisers:

1) Set targeting options, bidding capabilities, budget pacing options, and choose behavioral profiling and price settings.

2) Retarget add across multiple Ad Exchanges

3) Blacklist certain audiences and websites

4) Add limits on frequency with which ads appears to the same user

AdPushup helps publisher increase their ad revenue. We achieve this by our machine-learning algorithm, automated A/B testing, header bidding, innovative ad formats and in-house ad operations expertise. Feel free to reach out and ask our experts.

V. Types of ad exchange:

1. Open Ads Exchange:

It is an open digital marketplace with extensive inventory from multiple publishers available for all buyers. 

2. Preferred Deal :

Preferred deal is for publishers who want to sell digital ad inventory at a negotiated fixed price for preferred advertisers.

3. Private Marketplace (PMP):

Often known as private ad exchange, it is a closed platform that enables publishers to control which buyers can make bids, under what conditions, and at what price.

Best Ad Exchanges

In case you are wondering, where to start from, here is a list of top ad exchanges with their benefits:

1. AppNexus as an Ad Exchange

best ad exchanges AppNexus

AppNexus is one of the world’s largest advertising marketplaces. For the sell-side, AppNexus offers and server, SSP, and advanced to better monetize and optimize the inventory. And for buy-side, the company has a programmable platform to run customized campaigns.

AppNexus, in collaboration with Rubicon Project, also introduced Prebid.js—an open-source header bidding wrapper. The company monetizes publishers like Fandom, Wayfair, and Ranker.

Features for publishers:

  1. Uses an in-house ad server for programmatic and direct deals.
  2. Has an SSP that offers display, video, mobile, native, and audio ads for publishers.
  3. Audience extension enables publishers to ‘pack and sell’ a part of the inventory to advertisers who are specifically seeking that audience.
  4. The advanced analytics feature lets publishers monitor and benchmark their inventory performance to avoid underselling.

2. Verizon Media

best ad exchanges Verizon Media

Verizon Media (formerly known as Oath) is a media and technology company. It connects 800 million people (including publishers, advertisers, and users) every day, around the globe. The company has a huge network of publishers, advertisers, and ad partners to fulfill the requirements of each.

Verizon Media provides simplified monetization solutions for various ad formats across multiple devices. The company also hosts in-house technology to power large publishers like TechCrunch, Engadget, and HuffPost who are their clients.

Features for publishers:

  1. Delivers high-quality creatives while maintaining user privacy by complying with privacy regulations like the GDPR.
  2. Comprehensive inventory management lets publishers track earnings coming via different channels—including header bidding, programmatic, and direct deals.
  3. The demand pool includes its own marketplace and top demand sources (including Facebook and Amazon) available in the market.

3. OpenX as Ads Exchange

best ad exchanges OpenX

OpenX introduces publishers to a powerful programmatic marketplace. Their trademark offering, OpenAudience, empowers publishers with insights about their respective audiences.

The company also offers yield analysts to publishers to identify the true potential of their inventories. To keep ad fraud at bay, OpenX abides with the anti-ad fraud measures. Moreover, the company was one of the contributors to the “Certified Against Malware” program.

CarGurus,, and Graphiq are some publishers monetizing with OpenX.

Features for publishers:

  1. Offers OpenX Bidder—header bidding solution that connects publishers with a premium marketplace of demand partners.
  2. Predicts audience volume to help publishers monetize better. Its “Real-time Guaranteed” feature is known to help publishers improve seller-buyer relationships for more profitable deals.
  3. Has a mobile-optimized ad exchange designed to reach buyers interested only in mobile inventory. Saving publishers time to find suitable mobile demand on their own.

4. Rubicon Project

best ads exchanges Rubicon Project

Rubicon Project (or simply Rubicon) is a global advertising technology that specializes in buying and selling inventories, facilitating over 1 billion deals every month. The Wall Street Journal, GAMELOFT, and eBay are some of the publishers who trust the Rubicon Project.

The company offers demand and campaign management for sellers and buyers. The company was also a contributor in the making of Prebid (with AppNexus), making them one of the top players in the header bidding market.

Features for publishers:

  1. It is designed for non-technical publishers. If required, publishers can also get manual assistance on request.
  2. It offers a unified platform where publishers can access global demand without having to go through multiple channels or services.
  3. Offers client-side, server-side, and hybrid header bidding solutions for better monetization.

5. PubMatic as an Ad Exchange

ad exchange Pubmatic

Pubmatic is a publisher-centric ad technology company. It delivers over 64 billion daily ad impressions to 800M+ unique users across the globe.

The technology is available for web, mobile, and app publishers. Publishers like, Livingly Media, and Times Internet are monetizing using Pubmatic’s technology. 

Features for publishers:

  1. OpenWrap—an open-source header bidding wrapper by Pubmatic enables client-side, server-side, and hybrid header bidding solutions.
  2. Real-time bidding technology with a large pool of bidders, which increases bid pressure and hence publisher earning potential.
  3. The platform detects and filters invalid traffic to ensure brand safety.

6. MoPub as an Ads Exchange

ads exchange MoPub

MoPub is an app monetization platform for publishers and developers. Now owned by Twitter, MoPub offers mobile ad exchange services. The company has a unified auction feature that enables publishers to go for direct deals, ad network services, and access to several DSPs.

The company is now reaching 1.5 billion users across devices by working with over 49,000 app publishers around the globe. Developers like Zynga, Voodoo, Ubisoft, and Trucaller monetize via MoPub. 

Features for publishers:

  1. In-app monetization feature lets publishers see real-time impressions.
  2. The company’s expertise in mobile mediation and real-time bidding help publishers access leading demand sources.
  3. Designed to show impression-level revenue to publishers, which helps them better understand the value of their inventory.

Looking for more demand on your inventory, we can help with our partnerships with 20+ global demand partners. Learn more.

7. Index Exchange

Ads exchanges Index Exchange

Index Exchange has created a marketplace where premium digital media companies come together and exchange inventory.

It offers complete control of inventory and pricing, along with providing access to quality demand. Premium publishers like Business Insider, The Economist, and The Telegraph work with the Index Exchange platform.

Features for publishers:

  1. It is certified by TAG and is a member of the Coalition for Better Ads, which shows its commitment to serving only high-quality ads.
  2. Offers in-house inventory integration and maintenance for better results on buy- and sell-side.
  3. The company is known for transparency when it comes to bid-level auction data and earnings, and for its quality of demand sources.

8. Smaato Ad Exchange


Smaato is an app-based ad exchange platform processing over 150 billion ad requests per month. The self-serve platform provides easy ad delivery with higher eCPMs. 

Liftoff, Gameloft, and Outfit7 are some developers that use Smaato. It offers extensive demand, global reach, and seamless website integrations with the company’s code to drive higher revenue for publishers.

Features for publishers:

  1. Integrates real-time ad exchange to access dynamic demand from more than 450 sources around the globe.
  2. App publishers have options to access private marketplace, direct deal, RTB, and third-party mediation.
  3. Works with technologies like The Media Trust and GeoEdge in order to maintain ad quality standards, brand safety, and user protection.

Google’s runs its own ad exchange where Google Display Network partners can buy and sell ads. Google AdX comes under the umbrella of Google Ad Manager offering third-party demand along with GDN.

It uses open auction (preferred and programmatic deals) and private auction models (programmatic guaranteed) to make inventory exchange possible.

Google AdX is only available for premium publishers and advertisers. Small and medium publishers can access these services with the help of Google Network Partners (like AdPushup).

Features for publishers:

  1. With account-level filtering, publishers can filters out the demand and creatives that they don’t want on their sites.
  2. Publishers can define various parameters (geography, ad sizes, layouts, ATF, and BTF ad units) for their revenue reporting and to better understand the inventory.
  3. Once publishers sign up with AdX, the platform handles everything一from ad delivery to payments.

10. SmartyAds as an Ad Exchange

ads exchange SmartyAds

SmartyAds offers a complete ad tech solution to publishers, advertisers, and agencies. It is an independent ad exchange platform with a premium marketplace.

The company delivers more than 2 billion impressions daily while working with 25K+ premium publishers. It assures unbiased trade and quality exchange while maintaining profits for the parties involved.

Features for publishers:

  1. Precise targeting by SmartyAds gets publishers the right ads for their audience.
  2. Real-time analytics shows inventory performance by different layout (banner, native, video) and different devices (desktop and mobile).
  3. A transparent and brand-safe environment that lets publishers design their layout while maintaining various ad standards.

VI. In Closing:

The future for ad exchanges looks promising considering the shift to digital advertising is already underway. With the rise in programmatic advertising, ad exchanges will eventually become the go-to virtual marketplace for buyers and sellers.

Adpushup helps premium publishers across the globe generate more ad revenue by connecting them to 50+ premium ad exchanges. Book a demo to get free 30 minutes website monetisation consultation.

VII. Key Takeaways on Ad Exchange:

  • Ads exchange is a digital marketplace, where publishers and advertisers come together to sell and buy inventories.
  • Ad Exchange enable advertisers to easily purchase ads across multiple sites at once, instead of negotiating purchases directly with specific publishers.
  • Compared to ad networks, the ad exchanges are more transparent because they enable buyers to see the exact price at which impressions are being sold for.
  • Different types of ad exchanges include Open Ad Exchange, Preferred Deal, and Private Marketplace
  • Some of the best ad exchanges include Google Ads Exchange, AppNexus, Pubmatic, and OpenX.

VIII. Ads Exchanges FAQs

1. What are ad exchanges?

An ads exchange is a digital marketplace that enables publishers and advertiser to buy and sell advertising space.

2. How does an ad exchange work?

An ad exchange is digital marketplace where supply and demand come together to trade ad inventories through real-time auctions. It gathers advertisers and publishers to sell inventory to the highest bidder.

3. Are ad exchanges transparent?

Ad exchanges are relatively more transparent than ad networks. They enable a buyers to see real-time price impressions. In fact, many ad networks now buy their inventory from exchanges.

4. What is the biggest ad exchange?

Google AdX or Google Ad Exchange is the largest programmatic ad exchange. Google AdX conducts the first-price auction and sells display advertising space in real-time.

IX. Related Terms

  • Ad Exchange: Ad exchange provides a platform to sell and buy ad inventories using its connections with various ad networks and SSPs.
  • Ad Server: Ad server places targeted ads on your website(s). It uses a server to store various types of ads and deliver them as per the user’s online behaviour.
  • Ad Management: Advertising management is the process of overseeing and monitoring ad campaigns.
  • Ad Network: Ad networks acquire available inventories from a publisher and sell them to advertisers as packaged impressions.

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