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What is Revive Adserver?

Revive Adserver is a free, open source ad server. It is a system that can be used to manage and optimize the advertising space on one or more websites. It is a tool for web site owners (called ‘publishers’ in the online advertising industry).

What is an ad server used for?

When managing a website, or perhaps even multiple websites, there can be a lot of work involved in putting advertisements on the site and removing them again, especially when this is done by entering the ads directly into the site’s coding. It takes a lot of time and it reduces flexibility. An advertising server (usually shortened to ad server) like Revive Adserver can provide a real solution in this scenario.

How does Revive Adserver work?

Websites and zones
In Revive Adserver, one can define websites, and also one or more zones for each website. A zone represents a space on the webpages where ads are supposed to be displayed. For every zone there is a little snippet of HTML code, which must be placed in the site, at the exact spot where the zone should go. This forms the integration between the site and Revive Adserver. It is a one time job, that will take little time for an experienced webmaster or developer. The word ‘zone’ is a term in Revive Adserver, other systems refer to it as ‘location’, ‘spot’, ‘placement’ or ‘position’.

Advertisers, campaigns and ads
One can also create advertisers, campaigns and ads in Revive Adserver. Those can be internal campaigns or campaigns from direct advertisers, but also ads from external ad networks like Google AdSense, from affiliate networks, or from advertisers and agencies that use systems like DoubleClick.

Targeting: the right ad at the right spot
The final step is to link the right campaigns to the right zones, effectively determining which ads will appear where. This can be combined with various forms of targeting, matching the display of ads to specific situations. Revive Adserver can handle targeting based on date, day and time, geographic are (country or city, and more), web browser used by the visitor, and language set by the visitor, to name just a few. There are also advanced targeting options, using known information about members or customers (like their gender, education or age range), or from known details about the site’s content and structure (for instance: display the ad only in the ‘news’ section or anywhere but the ‘sports’ pages).

Statistics: to measure is to manage
Revive Adserver measures how often ads are displayed and clicked, and has reports for these numbers plus ad revenue for the publisher, advertiser and webmaster. It also has functionality to measure conversions, leads or transactions on the advertiser’s website that occur as a result on a click on a banner that was displayed on the publisher’s site.

Starting to use Revive Adserver: hosting and scalability

Revive Adserver is a free open source application that can be installed on a publisher’s server. It was developed in the PHP programming language and stores data using the MySQL database, both of which are also open source software. Except for time and hardware, there are no additional costs, and no license fees. Another option is to hire a specialized hosting company to handle the technical aspects.

Revive Adserver can be utilized by small and large websites. The system has been designed to enable installation on a cluster of web servers, allowing it to grow alongside the growth of the sites. There are companies that display in excess of 1 billion ads per month using Revive Adserver. That does involve quite a bit of hardware of course.

The features I mentioned above are in fact only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more advanced features and use cases.

Advanced applications and extensions

With the release of version 2.8 of the OpenX Source software (the predecessor of Revive Adserver), an important feature was released for the first time: the plug-in architecture. This enables developers to change or extend the functionality of the core system without having to modify that same core directly. This is an approach that has proven to be highly successful in other open source software like blogging tool WordPress or web shop system Magento.

More information about Revive Adserver?

There is a lot of information about the system and functionality on the Revive Adserver website. The software is available for free download there.