What is adtech and why is it important?

Adtech is an important part of running a digital advertising campaign. Advertisers use adtech to buy, manage, and measure digital advertising.

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If you’re looking to get started with adtech, read on to learn about the adtech basics, including common tools and services, and the benefits of creating an advertising strategy that leverages adtech.

What is adtech and why is it important?

Advertising technology, also known as adtech, is an overarching term that describes the tools and software advertisers use to reach audiences, and deliver and measure digital advertising campaigns. As buying and selling digital ads became more complex, adtech emerged to streamline the process. Common adtech tools, such as demand-side platforms, are technologies that enable advertisers to buy impressions and select audiences across many publisher sites. Now, adtech enables advertisers and agencies to manage integrated campaigns effectively. It also allows brands to make the best use of their budget and help maximize their return on investment (ROI) in digital advertising. Ultimately, the adtech landscape allows advertisers to strategically plan and optimize their advertising campaigns.

The adtech basics

Adtech includes a variety of tools and technologies, such as demand-side platforms, supply-side platforms, agency trading desks, ad servers, and ad networks to help advertisers serve relevant advertisements to relevant audiences. Let’s take a look at each of these technologies.

Programmatic advertising

What is programmatic advertising?

Programmatic advertising is the use of technology to buy and sell digital ads. Programmatic advertising uses an automated process to purchase digital ad inventory from across the web, mobile, apps, video, and social media. Programmatic advertising uses workflow automation and machine learning algorithms to deliver the most effective ads to audiences based on a variety of signals, like demographics, shopping patterns, and more.

Programmatic advertising offers many benefits. Advertisers may achieve greater efficiency, more focused reach, transparency, and real-time measurement and optimization.


What is a demand-side platform (DSP)?

A demand-side platform (DSP) is software that advertisers use to buy video, display, and mobile ads. A DSP is a single, organized marketplace where advertisers access publisher inventory through direct integrations, supply-side platforms (SSPs), and ad exchanges. As its name implies, a DSP is driven by the demand side of the advertising equation: advertisers seek inventory that will help them reach the right audiences at the right time, within a defined budget. Working with demand-side platforms like Amazon DSP allows brands to reach relevant audiences and use insights to inform their strategies. DSPs are a cost-effective and efficient way for advertisers to buy digital advertising inventory.


What is a supply-side platform (SSP)?

A supply-side platform (SSP) is a tool for publishers that automates selling digital ad impressions including video, display, and mobile ads. It is driven by the supply side of the advertising equation: the publishers who want to sell their inventory. SSPs let publishers, ad networks, and ad exchanges sell impressions to a greater pool of potential buyers and allow publishers to set the bidding range to maximize their revenue.


What is an agency trading desk (ATD)?

An agency trading desk (ATD) is a tool or set of services related to media planning and media buying that media agencies provide. Typically layered over a demand-side platform, the ATD is the service piece of the adtech landscape that enables agencies to manage an advertiser’s programmatic, bid-based media purchases as they happen across channels—offering analytics on ad buys to clients throughout a campaign. Agencies typically staff a trading desk with account managers, data analysts, designers, software developers, and other team members on behalf of clients.

While major media agencies own agency trading desks, there are also independent trading desks (ITDs) that smaller agencies or advertisers own and operate.

Ad server

What is an ad server?

An ad server serves ads to a website or app and reports performance metrics for those ads. Advertisers, agencies, ad networks, and publishers can use ad servers to serve ads to a website. Ad servers house creative assets and optimize the process of selecting which ad to place and where, using automated technology. Ad servers can be a central place for managing advertising campaigns and reporting on their results.

The AdTech Landscape

To manage campaigns, advertisers and agencies use a range of adtech solutions, including agency trading desks (ATD), demand-side platforms (DSP), ad exchanges, supply-side platforms (SSP), ad servers, ad networks, and publishers.

The difference between adtech and martech

Adtech is focused on reaching consumers through paid channels using sophisticated audience insights and advertising technology, while martech (marketing technology) focuses on reaching audiences via unpaid or owned channels using a brand’s first-party insights.

Adtech uses technology to facilitate media buying and optimizing ad spend. Martech uses technology to automate or facilitate marketing strategy implementation and processes based on a brand’s first-party audience insights and through the brand’s owned media channels, like social media accounts, email, website, content marketing, and sales nurturing activities. Marketing and sales teams are the primary martech users.

Adtech benefits

Adtech simplifies and improves digital ad campaigns, and the technology is only growing more sophisticated. Machine learning will continue to get better at processing massive amounts of information, further optimizing digital campaigns and their effectiveness. Programmatic advertising continues to grow, and newer innovations like Streaming TV ads and audio advertising are gaining ground in the digital advertising space.

The following are three key benefits of adtech.

  1. Better utilized ad spend
  2. Adtech helps advertisers and agencies deliver the right content, at the right time, to the right audiences based upon first-party and third-party insights, ensuring advertisements are reaching engaged audiences that may be interested in the product or service. By using Adtech, some brands are able to make better use of their budgets than they do through traditional media buying and delivery methods where inventory or ad placement are less controllable.

  3. Operational efficiencies for campaigns
  4. Because of adtech, advertisers and agencies can plan and measure their campaigns more efficiently and effectively. Adtech tools, like ad servers, allow for a bird’s eye view of an advertising campaign, giving an advertiser or agency visibility into where their ads are, and how they are performing. This optimizes productivity and saves time in the ad buying and planning process.

  5. Insights across the marketing funnel
  6. Adtech does away with one-ad-fits-all advertising, as it enables brands to share their stories in unique ways depending on where consumers are in the marketing funnel. Through Amazon DSP in particular, brands have access to exclusive insights so they can refine how to reach audiences at different stages of their shopping journey, including reengaging audiences that have shown previous interest in their product or service.


Ultimately, Adtech allows brands to reach audiences quickly, increase measurability, and run optimized advertising campaigns. Connect with us to learn more about how Amazon Ads' technology suite can help you maximize the effectiveness of your marketing and exceed your business goals.