As the digital world continues to evolve, advertising has become more prevalent across more touchpoints with consumers. Businesses have adapted quickly to the increasing need to advertise their offering and have become quite comfortable creating their own campaigns, rather than relying on a third party. This has increased the popularity of the advertising trend “Self-Service Advertising”.

With so many benefits that come with this type of advertising businesses are enjoying the control of managing their own ad campaigns while seeing impressive results. Hence, it is not surprising that this has been one of the most rapidly growing forms of advertising in recent years, especially since COVID-19.

According to Salesforce, 78% of service professionals say customers have increased their use of self-service during the pandemic, with 86% of respondents from a McKinsey survey saying they prefer using self-service tools over dealing with a sales representative. However, for some businesses, it can be difficult to decide if self-service is the right fit for them. To assist, we will cover some of the most frequently asked questions.

What is self-service advertising?

Self-service advertising refers to any channel that allows an advertiser to purchase ad inventory and publish a campaign without needing assistance from a sales representative or a publisher. Self-service in the ad tech industry is provided on a variety of platforms, you may be most familiar with the platforms offered by the likes of Google and Facebook. Self-serve technologies for advertising enable quick, easy purchase of advertising inventory and supports faster campaign launches while lowering total costs and giving advertisers high flexibility in the placement of their ads. Moreover, self-service platforms can offer programmatic purchasing capabilities, which means they can automatically determine when and where a specific advertisement should be displayed depending on the selected campaign criteria.

What is a self-service advertising platform and what does it offer?

Self-service advertising platforms allow the placement of ads without waiting for a sales rep or ad ops specialist.

To create an ad campaign, it is simply a matter of selecting the campaign objectives, target audience, placements, budget and campaign activation period. Once approved, advertisers are ready to show their ads to the right people in real-time and adjust as needed to optimize the running campaign at any point. This also allows media buyers to have their own bidding tool and manage their audience data in-house to maximize campaign effectiveness.

What is the difference between self-service and managed service?


Self-service digital advertising campaigns, in their most basic form, provide advertisers with instant access to their campaigns. Brands can track their running campaigns in real-time from start to finish, giving them full control and flexibility to make changes as needed, such as:

  • Target audience & placement optimization
  • Ad group adjustments & creative changes
  • Budget & bid adjustments

The ability to manage everything internally is a key advantage when running an advertising campaign through a self-service platform. Advertisers are empowered to execute and optimize campaigns by themselves, substantially reducing setup times. Not to mention that the costs of running self-service digital advertising campaigns are usually lower than other options.

Managed Service

Managed service, on the other hand, is the opposite. Since digital advertising is entirely managed by an external source, be it an agency or any other. As a result, advertisers may test and adopt advertising knowing that the campaigns will be managed by an expert team.

In other words, executing advertising campaigns with fully managed suppliers leaves the campaign activities up to media strategists. The media strategists are the ones who upload everything required, perform constant optimizations and report back to the advertiser. However, the limitation of this approach is that the expertise does not remain in-house and external resources can be significantly more expensive.

What are the benefits of self-service advertising for publishers?

As publishers have implemented digital throughout their businesses in order to reduce costs and improve service efficiency, this transition has been highly appreciated, particularly considering all of the benefits that this form of advertisement brings, such as:

Time and cost-saving

Publishers have traditionally built a sales advertising infrastructure around a salesperson who is responsible for selling to the advertiser. Scaling up using this manual sales model implies a multiple of both the number of salespeople and the infrastructure support needed to manage the advertising they sell. This is where automated self-service comes into play.

A self-service advertising platform, in general, is a low-cost solution capable of reducing the time required to meet customer needs while replacing manual tasks in the ad booking process. This means it can lead to increased market share by offering a more time-efficient, lower cost and scalable approach than traditional sales departments.

Optimized processes

Self-service can help upgrade the advertising process to make it more internally integrated, faster and efficient through the use of automated technology. Streamlining ad operations processes that include:

  • Ad distribution: self-service platforms can integrate with a publisher’s ad server to create a seamless flow from booking to ad distribution, without the need for human intervention to ensure the ad is being displayed in the right place at the right time.
  • Payment and billing: publishers can issue their own invoices and simplify their billing processes by the use of a self-service, prepayment model through a “shopping cart” e-commerce platform.
  • Reporting & analytics: thanks to data collection capabilities, self-service platforms enable users to instantly access up-to-date analytics and historic comparisons of advertising data with customized online dashboards and graphs that can be exported or integrated into external reporting systems.

Ad sales efficiency

Ad sales teams have historically had to work alongside the ad operations team to guarantee that a booked advertisement is placed in the system seamlessly, which leads to multiple time-consuming processes to get approvals.

These two aspects are automated to operate more efficiently by reducing the number of resources required. Allowing sales reps to focus on delivering complete service to bigger clients while the self-service platform handles small and medium-sized customers.

What are the benefits of self-service advertising for advertisers?

Self-service offers multiple advantages and can benefit all parties involved in the advertising sales equation, mainly because it allows to offer a standardized quality of service regardless of the size of the advertiser, who can take advantage of:

Additional control

Given that advertisers invest their own budgets, it is only reasonable that they want to know how they are being spent and what the outcomes are. Just as self-service platforms provide publishers with reporting and analytics capabilities, they give advertisers access to comprehensive dashboards and charts to keep them up to date on campaign performance at all times.

This makes it easy to customize all aspects of the advertising strategy with a single click, from placement to targeting, without the need for external assistance to optimize campaign results throughout its entire active period.

On-demand access

Self-service advertising platforms allow advertisers to control all aspects of an advertising campaign 24 hours a day, without the need to interact with a salesperson. This freedom is what makes self-service advertising so popular. Advertisers can access their ads and campaigns to make changes, place new orders or adjust ad groups settings as needed, which can limit both time and effort to easily update and launch new campaigns without relying on the availability of campaign execution partners’ busy schedules.

Maximized campaign effectiveness

Thanks to automation, maximizing return on ad spend has become easier than ever by reaching relevant audiences that are most likely to convert to customers. As advertisers begin to understand the importance of demographic targeting and purchase behavior, chances of buying ads that could actually make a difference in profit margins increase. Self-service allows advertisers to manage all of these targeting options according to their individual budgets to ensure they are maximizing the effectiveness and profitability of their campaigns.


It is undeniable that self-service advertising represents the future, especially for those who understand the opportunities in the ad tech space. With added freedom to design, execute and track ad campaigns without the need for an intermediary, self-service advertising becomes a compelling tool for making the most of the digital advertising experience through cost-effective workflow automation and access to publishers of all sizes.

Whether you are a small, medium or large company, we hope this guide has helped you understand the many benefits that self-service advertising platforms have to offer and encouraged you to take the next step.