Ad Tech & Ad Ops

What is an ad tag? How do they Work? The Definitive Guide

June 3, 2020 3 min read
everything to know about ad tag


What is an ad tag? How do they Work? The Definitive Guide

Reading Time: 3 minutes

As trivial and minimalist the Ad tags look from the outside, the more important they are from the inside. These little pieces of code are immensely significant in Ad tech. In fact, without any kind of flashing banners or video pay-rolls, the Ad tech business will have no extra revenue. Thankfully, the world has not come to the conclusion of being ad-prohibiting. That is why the Ad tech business is able to use mighty Ad tags which are small in size, yet the core elements of digital ad serving. In this article, we will cover everything to know about ad tag.

The importance of Ad tags increases further of the phenomenon that advertisers, publishers, as well as ad networks, use Ad tags. That is how they are able to exchange data with each other. The Ad tags send a request for showing an ad to the ad server if they are inserted within a web page. The browser requests for an Ad from a Javascript code snippet combined with a URL or HTML. The Ad tags contain an immense amount of information to show how a particular ad should be served on a particular website. Data about the size, category, the ad format, and all other details are a part of the Ad tag. 

The Relation Between Ad Tag And Digital Marketing

The relationship between ad tags and digital marketing is essential when finding everything to know about ad tags. The main function of the Ad tag is to generate ad requests and prompt the browser to send in the requests. In fact, on some occasions, the Ad tag also requests the browser to collect data about the users who view the ad. This is how the placement of a tag is done;

  • A publisher takes the help of an ad server for generating an Ad tag. Then it places it on the web page.
  • Next, as mentioned above, the ad tag triggers the web browser to send an ad request and to the ad server of the publishers.
  • The data management platform then adds user data to the digital tag which is forwarded by the publisher’s ad server. This is done for the purpose of behavioral targeting.
  • Lastly, the placement tag is sent to the advertiser’s ad server. After the server receives the ad tag, it sends back a relevant ad. 
  • The publisher then finally places the ad in the concerned inventory slot.

Everything to know about Ad Tag – Importance


Each digital advertising player uses creative tags for the purpose of the fulfillment of specific goals. On one hand, Publishers need Ad tags to be able to sell their inventory to multiple advertisers. It is of utmost importance for publishers to make sure that only relevant ads are a part of the website. With the help of ad tags, publishers can serve different ads on one placement. These ads are based on the targeting preferences of the advertisers. 

Ad serving can have a lot of errors as well, which serves inaccurate content that is unreadable. Ad tags make the content error-free by specifying strict creative requirements. Accuracy needs to be followed in Ad tags because a minimal occasional bug in the code can result in a mess on the page.


After Publishers send in the Ad tags to the advertisers, the role of the advertiser starts in the process. Advertisers direct the browser to the ads which comply with the requirements of the publishers. The Ad tags also contain personal information like the location, carrier, and browser of the user. This information makes behavioral targeting possible with the help of the Data Management Platform. 

Ad Networks

Ad networks are responsible for managing the whole ad serving process. So they are a part of the ad tag process even before the publisher and advertisers. Ad networks connect publishers and advertisers based on creative tags. Ad networks use an all-in-one advertising platform to run their business in most cases. 

The Advent of Header Wrapper

Ad tag can be used in various kinds for the purpose of utilizing real-time bidding. But a highly advanced technology which has come up for the purpose of selling inventory programmatically is Header Bidding. So, unlike the regular Ad tag, header bidding can be implemented by placing a header wrapper within the page code. 

The header wrapper is not simply a tag. This container of tags gives you the advantage of adding new demand partners without changing the code again and again. A single Ad tag requires you to adapt its code every single time you call out a new partner. But the header wrapper collects multiple bid responses as well as user and performance tracking tags. 

The flaw of a header wrapper is that it is a complex setup as compared to the regular ad tags. The header wrapper has compatibility issues as well. So it is a call that the user has to make themselves as to whether they prefer regular ad tags or header wrapper. Both regular ad tag, as well as header wrapper, have their own advantages and disadvantages. So it is on you to decide which of the two would you be comfortable working with.