What exactly is ROS? And what on earth is RON? These two questions come up all the time for people who are just beginning to work with Ad Networks and place their own ads online.
By the way, what’s an Ad Network?
These are the questions that we are going to address in the next five minutes (promise: this won’t take more than five minutes of your time and will impart immortal knowledge).
Don’t have five minutes? Skip directly to the essentials here!
Before we get started addressing RON (Run-of-network) and ROS (Run-of-site), lets first establish what, exactly, an Ad Network is.
An Ad Network is a company or platform that tries to bring together online ad supply (also known as inventory), organize it, categorize it, and resell it to advertisers who want to place online ads.
The Ad Network is one of the oldest digital advertising institutions. It has proven to be a very stable but adaptable business structure with an enduring role in the world of digital advertising.
While there are general-purpose ad networks with no particular specialization, many focus on a particular vertical (such as sports, fashion, etc.) or on a specific ad format (such as Native, Video, or popup). Ad Networks might also focus on mobile ads in particular. These are called Mobile Ad Networks.
An example of a (format-specific) Ad Network would Outbrain or Taboola (who, by the way, recently merged). These two Ad Networks focus on native advertising.
Want to know more about Ad Networks? Check out our in-depth article here.
Blind Ad Networks
Another piece of background information that you should have before we start looking at the terms du jour, Run-of-Site and Run-of-Network, is “Blind Ad Network.”
An Ad Network that is blind is on that doesn’t allow you to choose the exact sites on which you will be running your ads. You can choose a category and a host of other information, but you can’t pick the exact site.
Later on, you can optimize by blacklisting and whitelisting certain sites within the network, but you can’t actually see what the sites are. You generally just get some kind of alphanumeric code that designates the site.
This allows users to blacklist bad subIDs and whitelist good ones, even if they don’t know exactly what the sites behind the numbers are.
Let’s get to those terms. (finally!)
What exactly is ROS?
Run of Site
ROS stands for Run-of-Site (sometimes you’ll see this term unhyphenated).
This is a means of placing an ad on an Ad Network whereby your ad will show up somewhere on a given site.
You generally cannot choose which exact pages, but you can be sure that your ad will always show up on that site and that site alone.
That is to say you might place an ROS ad for awesomegames.com. You can be sure your ad will only be displayed on this site, but you can’t specifically choose to have it shown on the homepage or the review page of the site.
The ad might show up there, it might now. It has run of the entire site.
The primary benefit here is that you have a better idea about what you’re getting for your money.
With Run-of-Site, you know that you want site X and you’ll only get traffic from site X.
This can be extremely useful in a wide variety of circumstances. For example, you might know that a given forum has a very good reputation and is heavily frequented by your potential customers.
In this case, you might want to target this site exclusively and Run-of-Site might be the best way to do it.
So what are the drawbacks? For one thing, while Run-of-Site can give you good quality and relatively qualified traffic, it comes a price.
Run-of-Site is generally more expensive, often considerably more expensive, than Run-of-Network. It’s more exact and specific traffic needs to be provided, and the price reflects this.
But that’s not the only drawback.
The other is quantity. The volume of traffic that you can expect with Run-of-Site is lower, sometimes considerably lower, than you could expect with Run-of-Network.
If you’re only running your ad on one site, then it shouldn’t be a surprise that the volume of traffic is significantly lower than it would be if you were to run the same ad on an entire network.
So not only will you get reduced traffic with Run-of-Site, but you’ll also pay more for what you get.
Example of ROS use
So when would you use Run-of-Site? Let’s look at two quick instances wherein one might choose to use a Run-of-Site campaign.
Run-of-Site campaigns are often used for
Run of Network
Run-of-Network is essentially the opposite of Run-of-Site. Rather than choosing the site on which you are going to be running the ad, you essentially choose to run it on the entire network.
You don’t get to choose part of the network or a specific category of traffic or tranche of sites.
You get traffic from the whole network.
The primary benefit of a Run-of-Network campaign or ad placement is price. Because you are not selecting specific sites and because the Network can put it in front of just about any traffic that they have available, the price is correspondingly lower.
So you get significantly more reach for an often much lower price.
The primary drawback of a Run-of-Network campaign is essentially its main benefit just seen from another perspective.
It’s totally untargeted at a site level. So the only way to be sure that the traffic that you’re getting fits your criteria is by choosing a more or less specific ad network (i.e. Sports ad network, etc).
Oftentimes networks dump their unsold (read: lower quality) traffic on Run-of-Network offers. This means that your ad might appear on the least desirable sites on the network as the network uses your order to fill their more difficult to fill ad space.
Since many ad networks boast a 100% fill rate (i.e. they will ALWAYS serve ads on a site that is in their network) RON campaigns make such a thing possible.
Example of RON use
So when would one use RON?
Here are two examples.
Say you were rebranding one of your most popular products, but your old one was already very well known in your industry.
In order to familiarize those in the industry with your new brand, you might run a general branding campaign that simply presents the fact that your old brand has changed into the new one.
“SuperBookSeller is becoming SuperBooks” or something to that effect.
There are no conversions to drive or KPIs to hit outside of impressions.
In this case, you might choose to run and RON campaign on a Network that specializes in your industry. That way you know that most of the people that see your ad – regardless of what site they’re on – will be somewhat qualified insofar as their relationship to your industry.
Another instance wherein you might want to run a RON ad would be if you had a need to simply drive a lot of traffic regardless of quality.
This can occur from time to time when one needs to boost his rankings on the app store or something.
Run-on-Site and Run-on-Network are both extremely important concepts in the Ad Network world and in the digital advertising world in general.
Neither is inherently better than the other, they simply have completely different ideal use cases and the right one needs to be chosen for each situation.
ROS – Run-of-Site
ROS, or Run-of-Site, is a way of running an ad campaign on an Ad Network. Rather than running the ad on the entirety of a network and using all available traffic, a ROS ad will only be shown on the selected site(s). Hence the name “Run-of-Site.”
RON – Run-of-Network
RON, or Run-of-Network, is another way of running an ad campaign on an Ad Network. Rather than running the ad on a specific site, a RON ad will be run anywhere on the network and the advertiser has little, if any, ability to control where the ad is shown.
Leftover or less valuable traffic is generally directed to ads running on RON.
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