The Difference Between Ad Exchange And Ad Network

5 min readOct 26, 2022



In a world where more than half of all online advertising is bought programmatically, advertisers need to know what’s happening behind the scenes. While an ad network and an ad exchange are platforms allowing advertisers to buy ads through them, they function very differently. Here’s how each works.

Ad networks buy advertising inventory from publishers.

Ad networks are mediators between publishers and advertisers. They buy advertising inventory from publishers or place ads on websites and mobile apps that aren’t part of a publisher’s ad network. The revenue goes to the publisher of the site or app where the ad appears.

Ad networks also help advertisers find the right audiences by connecting with many different publishers and allowing them to manage their campaigns more quickly than they would on their own.


Ad exchanges open the door for real-time bidding.

Ad exchanges are a form of real-time bidding. For example, an online auction system allows advertisers to bid on ad space in real-time.

In this model, advertisers pay for each ad’s impression (or view). Ad networks are the original model for digital advertising. However, they may require publishers to sign exclusive contracts and relegate smaller advertisers who couldn’t afford large campaigns to second-class status.

The open nature of ad exchanges makes them more appealing to startups and small businesses with smaller budgets.

We’ll explore some differences between these two platforms later in this article. First, we’ll look at how they came about and their role in your overall marketing strategy today and in the future!


The ad network model is based on relationships.

In the ad network model, you work with one or more advertising partners who bid against each other for your inventory. The highest bidder wins and pays you for that impression. If multiple bidders offer similar prices, the auction process gives them an equal chance of accessing your inventory.

The ad network model is based on relationships between advertisers and publishers. Because of this relationship building, it’s possible to get more personalized responses from advertisers.

The most obvious advantage of this relationship-based model is flexibility. Some publishers prefer only selling through a single ad network because it allows them to easily control their revenue stream and monetize their entire audience. Moreover, they do so without having any unnecessary ads showing up on their site or app.

That’s why advertisers often say they want to “go direct”

Ad network inventory is often sold through an ad exchange. As such, advertisers don’t always know who they buy from or how the data they buy is used. The vast majority of programmatic buying happens through ad exchanges. That’s why advertisers often say they want to “go direct.”

But what does that mean? Why do advertisers want to “go direct”? As a marketer, you can think of your media plan as a pipeline for impressions and clicks. You expose inventory to your target audience and hope they will take the offer. Here’s where things get messy:

  • You’re not always sure who is selling you those impressions because there are hundreds of buyers in one supply chain. The supply chain includes the publisher that has the content on their site.
  • There is no transparency around pricing. Most ad networks don’t share their rates with publishers. Therefore, they can change at any time without notice.

You can only get your spot in line by bidding in the ad exchange model.

You can get your ads in front of people interested in your product or likely to buy it. That is a great way to spend your advertising dollars!

However, if you want one of those premium placements (the ones at the top), you’ll have to pay for it.

Ad networks will often provide much fairer pricing for publishers and advertisers. Check out how Cointraffic can help you monetize your content and achieve desired results!


Publishers like ad exchanges too.

On the other hand, publishers are more interested in ad exchanges because they can sell their inventory at higher rates.

With an ad network, a publisher may get $1 per thousand impressions (CPMs) sold. However, with an ad exchange like Google, publishers can earn up to $10 per thousand impressions.

Some advertisers may not care which platform they use if they get results. However, publishers should think about how they want to make money while selling their inventory and keeping their sites relevant and engaging visitors.

All publishers working with Cointraffic receive fair prices for their time and effort. More importantly, we guarantee optimal results for our advertiser clients looking to expand their reach across various media platforms.


The new ad exchange model has revolutionized the way advertisers buy online advertising.

The ad network model will continue to be important. Only strong and reliable contenders will survive in this space.

As the loudspeaker for the crypto community, Cointraffic remains a leading crypto ad network with the most innovative advertising and monetization solutions for advertisers and publishers. We have had a stellar reputation since 2014 and continue to expand our network.




The leading Crypto advertising network offering the most innovative advertising and monetization solutions for Advertisers and Publishers worldwide since 2014.