AppNexus: Using the AppNexus platform for retargeting

One of the most interesting companies in the ad:tech space right now is AppNexus. What AppNexus provides is basically the infrastructure necessary to build and run an internet display advertising business. In addition, they also provide a REST API to access the majority of the platform’s capabilities. This post will walk through how to use the AppNexus platform to setup audience retargeting.

What is retargeting?

With the rise of “real time bidding” in the display advertising space, it’s now possible for advertising choices to be made in real time at the individual user level. Basically, what that translates to is that as a web user every time you see a display ad an algorithm is transparently deciding how much to pay to serve you that ad. Using this technology then, its possible to “retarget” visitors that had been on your site as they see ads across the Internet. So with AppNexus, you’d basically be using their platform to “tag” your users and then leverage their RTB connections to show those users ads as they browse the internet.

The setup

Using the AppNexus platform to set up retargeting is relatively easy. First, you’ll need to leverage the “Get UID” call to retrieve the AppNexus id for your user. The URL is structured like:

The /getuid service will generate a 301 redirect to the URL you specify and replace the $UID placeholder with the user’s Appnexus id. If you’re planning to process users with a batch process, you’d want to store the id that gets returned from AppNexus so that you can target those users.

The next step is adding users to AppNexus segments which will allow you to target them across RTB exchanges. There are two ways to achieve this, you can either add users to segments in real time using an AJAX call or you can add them in bulk by uploading a file to AppNexus. Adding users in real time is straightforward, the AJAX endpoint is:

Using the batch process is a bit more involved, you’ll have to generate a file with AppNexus ids and segment ids and then use the batch service to process the file.

Great, but what can I do with it?

Plugging into the AppNexus infrastructure like this opens up a lot potential applications and use cases. Some potential use cases are:

  • Users that are viewing handbags on your site could get added to an AppNexus in real time to re-target them with handbag advertising.
  • Using the batch service, you could dynamically add users to opt-in for promotions to a specific segment.
  • In real time, you could monitor user behavior and add users that complete specific actions to a segment so they receive targeted advertising.

Anyway, if you’re interested in building solutions on the AppNexus API we’d love to work with you so drop us a line.