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What Is an Ad Tag and How To Make One

Mastering online marketing means understanding ad tags and how to make them. Ad tags are highly important pieces of code that ensure that you display ads in the right place, at the right time, and in front of the right people during your ad campaigns.

If you’re not sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. We will explain what an ad tag is, how it works, and how to make one in detail.

What Are Ad Tags?

An ad tag, which can also be called a placement tag or creative tag, is a small chunk of code inserted into a webpage. Once inserted, the ad tag sends a code snippet request to an ad server. The data provider receives this request and uses it to know where to run the ad. This means the server shows an advertisement in a specific place, like at the top of a webpage, in a banner ad slot, or elsewhere.

Ad tags can be included in JavaScript or HTML code, but they are always combined with a URL. That way, the browser can request an advertisement when a visitor views the webpage in question.

It’s important to remember that every ad tag defines how an ad unit should be served on a specific website, including:

  • The ad creative format (video ad, photo ad, etc.). Ad tags define the format based on abbreviations like ADJ (for image or XML files) 
  • The ad’s keyword (represented in ad tag format by the placeholder “XYZ”)
  • The ad space required on the publisher’s website
  • The ad category
  • And more

Depending on advertiser needs, ad tag snippets can be placed into the iFrame wrapper or header of the website if they want to isolate the tag from the main website script. You can discuss how you display advertising with your ad publisher depending on their policies or the kinds of setups their client websites use to show ads in a user’s browser.

Some types of tags are better positioned for certain placements than others.

How Do Ad Tags Affect Digital Marketing?

Put simply, ad tags are important in digital marketing because they trigger ad requests. The majority of digital ads are stored on servers, which are run by publishers or advertisers. When a visitor visits a website, the browser queries the server for an ad to serve the viewer based on a bid request.

This is important in digital advertising so that advertisers can collect data about users and visitors, serve specific or personalized ads, and perform other tasks. Put another way, ad tags are crucial for digital marketing because they facilitate the personalized marketing that consumers often see.

Ad tags typically follow the below process:

  • First, an advertising publisher makes an ad tag on an ad server and puts it on a webpage. Alternatively, they use a third-party ad tag.
  • Second, the ad tag triggers a browser to send an ad request when a visitor views the webpage.
  • The publisher ad server then forwards the digital ad tag to the data management platform used by the publisher. This gives it user data for behavioral targeting (note that this step is optional and only used for personalized marketing).
  • The placement tag is then sent to the advertiser’s ad server, which receives the tag and ships a relevant advertisement to the ad server.
  • Finally, the publisher’s ad server pushes the ad to the inventory slot on the viewer’s webpage.

Amazingly, this entire process happens in a handful of milliseconds. More importantly, it’s incredibly important for modern digital advertising campaigns to be as effective as they are.

Who Uses Ad Tags?

Ad tags are used by all the major parties in any digital enterprise, including:

  • Publishers, who use ad tags to sell advertising inventory to advertisers or organizations. Ad tag source code has unique values that let publishers guarantee that only the right, relevant ads are shown on target websites.
  • Advertisers, who receive ad tags from publishers and then use the tags to direct creative advertisements to browsers and viewers. Most ad tags contain information like user location, browser type, carrier, and more.
  • Ad networks, who managed the complete ad-serving process. They essentially facilitate ad tag shipping in the transition from server to server. Most ad networks use DSPs to run their businesses and processes.

What Are the Different Ad Tag Types?

Depending on your needs, there are a few ad tags your organization may use or make. Still, note that most modern digital ad tags are made partially of a URL. For the URL, a target user browser will request advertisement content and information about the placement, which is encoded in JavaScript by default.

Here are two of the most common types of JavaScript ad tags:

  • Synchronous ad tags, which load simultaneously with all the rest of a target webpage's content. If a tag is rejected, it can negatively affect page load speed since the browser will continue to send ad requests to the server (this can negatively affect user experiences and slow down page load times).
  • Asynchronous ad tags, which are loaded separately from the primary content. If there's an advertisement error, the page still loads in real-time, and the user experience is preserved. Because of this, most advertisers prefer to use asynchronous ad tags.

However, there are also universal JavaScript code ad tags. These are also called Ins tags. Ins tags can run on servers and browsers alike, making them very easy for publishers to implement. Advertisers also benefit because they get extra detailed information on things like where their ads are shown and who views their ads.

How Do You Make an Ad Tag?

Generating an ad tag can be complex, and it varies depending on which ad server you use or whether you are an advertiser. Let’s take a look at this process from the perspective of using an ad server such as Epom as an advertiser or marketer who wants to make an ad tag for a new type of creative.

In this case, to make an ad tag:

  • Open the ad server and click on the Publisher tab
  • Click “Choose/create a publisher”
  • Click “Create a new site”
  • Then, choose a new placement zone for the creative advertisement to belong in
  • Add your new site placement within the placement zone and be sure to specify any details, like size, domain as default channel, etc.
  • Locate the “Invocation codes” tab among the settings for the placement
  • Then, your ad tag should be ready to go. You can copy your chosen ad tag and forward it to your publisher

Note that this process is roughly identical for publishers and anyone else in this industry. The key thing to remember is that generating an ad tag is quick and simple. You just have to know which ad server type your publisher uses, then be sure to copy and paste your ad tag in its entirety and accurately. 

Naturally, typos in the ad tag can cause page loading problems, as mentioned above, or prevent your ads from showing whatsoever. For easier tag generation, try using Google to generate ad tags.

Contact AdQuick Today

Ad tags are necessary ad tech for any online marketing campaign to launch successfully and increase conversions. Now you know how to make ad tags and why they are important in the advertising ecosystem. Fortunately, you don't have to use this knowledge for any out-of-home or OOH marketing campaigns.

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