Where are display ads shown?

Given that the core mission of our business is to help our clients achieve bigger and better things through online display ads, it only makes sense to review some of the places or platforms where you would find this kind of advertising.

Before we jump in, a warning: we are diving fairly deeply into the realm of nerd talk. As a rule, we try to keep tech-speak off of our website and out of client interactions. However, we also think it’s important for you to know what we do, why it works, and where your money is going.

So, with that disclaimer in place, let’s dive into some of the terminology:

Ad Exchange

This is an online platform that allows for the buying and selling of digital inventory (e.g., ad space on websites).

Let’s put things in context. The old way of doing business was to negotiate price on media inventory. That’s how most newspapers and magazines brought in revenue. The new way, in the digital age, involves using an ad exchange that allows billions of impressions to be bought and sold in real time.

Google’s advertising universe would be an example of an ad exchange, where placement is determined by an ever-changing set of bids, preferences, and results.

Ad Networks

Networks aggregate the supply from publishers and then match it with advertiser demand.

To put that into clear language, imagine that a website has extra ad space that can be sold. They put that placement into a pool of exchanges so it can be matched with a bigger network of advertisers. Then, the space would be sold at a lower rate within the network. Everybody wins.

Supply-Side Platform (SSP)

Also known as Sell-Side Platform, this software allows web publishers and media owners to manage their own advertising space inventory. They decide what space they have, fill it with ads, and get paid.

Demand-Side Platform (DSP)

This is the type of software used by advertisers (like us) to buy ad inventory on mobile, search, video, and even native apps that has been made available by publishers through SSPs.

SSPs and DSPs make it possible for our industry to function by bringing millions or billions of publishers and advertisers together. You could think of this intersection like a stock exchange, with millions of transactions potentially happening in a fraction of a second – and with ad exchanges and networks communicating with each other in real time to find the perfect fit for every budget, audience, and message.

Real-World Display Ad Examples

Just as very few of the products you buy go straight from the creator to the consumer (when did you last buy milk directly from a cow?), the world of digital advertising is usually too complex to go directly from publishers to small businesses. In the real world there are distributors, retailers, etc., who help to make sure that supply and demand meet in a way – and at a price – that makes sense for everyone. The same thing happens online, except it’s faster and costs less.

It would be virtually impossible for the average small business to approach a major media empire and negotiate an advertising deal. And yet, using a company like ours, you could see your brand promoted on hundreds of high-profile websites.


By leveraging the power of digital advertising, you can have your ads shown anywhere online, from phones and tablets to desktop computers, smart TVs, and numerous other places. In fact, buyers might even see your online ads in:

  • Apps
  • Articles
  • Websites
  • Lightboxes (what you see when your screen greys out and an ad appears)
  • Paused TV (Hulu, Netflix, Amazon TV, etc)

Of course, these are just some of the places where your ads might be seen. To get further into the details, check out our description of different online ad sizes. Or, contact us today to ask a question or schedule a free consultation.

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Wondering how we could help your company succeed at generating new leads and customers? Contact the team at My Digital Advertising today so we can schedule a time to talk!
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