When was the last time that you set up a form of advertising and needed an intermediary? Chances are you haven’t even thought of doing this in a while. Thanks to self-serve advertising, you can control many aspects of your ongoing or soon-to-be-launched campaigns. In fact, this is the most dominant form of advertising online today!

You have probably used self-serve advertising in your career. However, to be able to harness its full potential, you need to have a deeper knowledge of the subject. That’s where we come in. In this article, you’ll learn how to empower yourself and maximize your results from self-service advertising.

What is Self-Serve Advertising?

Gone are the days when you had to deal with sales representatives or long negotiations before you could place an ad. Self-serve advertising uses an automated platform in place of any kind of representative. This allows both sides of the transaction — publishers and advertisers — to complete transactions cheaply and efficiently.

But in what ways does self-serve advertising differ from its traditional counterpart? The following subsections will focus on the comparisons between the two to help you better understand what self-serve advertising is.

More Involvement as an Advertiser

As we have mentioned, there is no one else involved when you set up a campaign using self-serve advertising. This means you’re going to do a lot of the work yourself! With your best self-serve advertising platform, you’ll be in charge of:

  • Determining the ad budget;
  • Targeting your ideal audience based on location, preferences and other factors;
  • Deciding on the ad format and uploading the ad content.

Whether you’re doing self-serve native advertising or other types, your level of involvement will remain consistent. However, if you're doing it the old way, you will need to go through all these factors with a salesperson or representative.

Better Access to Campaign Results

Before self-serve advertising became the norm, you didn’t have access to the analytics that you have now. Publishers simply do not have the manpower or funds to do that for everyone who transacts with them. Only self-serve advertising has made it possible. Platforms today provide you with on-demand access to the data generated by your campaign. With technology becoming more advanced, coupled with the advent of AI, a self-serve programmatic advertising platform may have expanded capabilities beyond showing you charts and numbers.

Operational and Available 24/7

All activities regarding buying ad space and tracking results are available to you at all times. That’s the beauty of using a platform that allows for a lot of automation. If you have team members located in other parts of the world, you’ll be able to sync your efforts easily, too. Self-serve programmatic advertising also operates on a principle similar to “set it and forget it.” So, regardless of whether you’re using the platform or not, it will always work according to the established presets.

Benefits of Using a Self-Serve Advertising Platform

At this point, you have already seen how this type of advertising is structured compared to its more traditional counterpart. You probably have an idea of what self-serve advertising can do. But let’s get into the specifics, shall we? Thanks to the automation aspect that is present in practically every self-service platform, you’ll be able to enjoy various benefits, regardless of the type of self-serve advertising you need. Let us get to the most impactful ones in the following subsections.

Access to an Extensive Self-Serve Digital Advertising Network

Access to thousands of potential publishers that may display your ads: that’s what self-service advertising platforms can deliver. You’ll never even have to send them a message. For example, with native advertising at MGID, we automatically match you with a website that’s a seamless fit for your ad. A series of self-serve advertising networks will always be within your reach. There’s no need to build relationships, call anyone or even learn about the publisher itself.

High Level of Scalability

You don’t have to be a big-shot advertiser to be able to reach your marketing objectives. Remember how a self-serve advertising platform automatically matches you with a publisher? That’s how it’s able to accommodate practically everyone. The number of publishers you’ll be matched with through self-serve advertising varies based on the extent of your campaign as well as your marketing objectives. For example, if you’re marketing to people in the US and Europe, the platform will make sure that your ads will be seen by the right people in those locations.

Low Level of Effort Required

Even though there are fewer people involved in self-serve advertising, less effort is required. All you need to do is set up your campaign and then wait for the results. Self-serve advertising also allows you to effortlessly review the impact that your campaign has on your KPIs. Stats, charts and graphs are part of practically every platform, allowing you to easily optimize your ad to achieve even better results. And again, you don't need to do a lot to make that happen. A few clicks is all it takes to make big changes to the success of your campaign.

Self-Serve Online Advertising Platform Example List

As you can see, this form of advertising is very powerful! And here’s some good news: there are many options available for every kind of self-serve advertising! Here’s a list of the most popular self-serve platforms today:

  • Google Ads
  • Microsoft Ads
  • Facebook Ads
  • Instagram Ads
  • LinkedIn Ads
  • Twitter Ads
  • YouTube Ads
  • Snapchat Ads
  • TikTok Ads
  • Google Display Ads
  • Pinterest Ads

There are also programmatic self-serve advertising platforms like MGID that connect you to thousands of reputable publishers across all industries and niches. Isn’t it great how easily you can access the benefits of self-service advertising?

How to Create Ad Campaigns on a Self-Serve Advertising Platform

Are you convinced of the power of this form of advertising for your campaigns? Terrific! In the following subsections, we’ll discuss in detail the steps required to create and launch campaigns in a self-serve advertising platform. You’ll see just how easy and straightforward the process is. We’ll focus on what you should be covering for each step so that you can get optimal results from your self-serve advertising efforts. After this, you’ll have a checklist of sorts that you can use as a reference to mastering the use of a self-service platform.

Don’t Forget About the Step Before the First Step: Choosing the Right Platform

Having the right self-serve advertising partner (and, by extension, the platform that they use) is crucial for your success. Here are a few things that you should assess to ensure that you’re using the best platform for you.

  • Quality of its network of publishers: Are the publishers reputable, and do they cover a lot of locations?
  • Capabilities of the platform: Does the platform have all the customization features that you want?
  • Scope of support: Do they provide resources to help you become a better advertiser?

By thoroughly assessing these factors, you can be sure that you’re getting the best-fit self-serve advertising platform.

Step #1: Set Your Campaign Budget

When setting your campaign budget, you should consider the following:

  • Potential returns: For this, look into the results of the previous campaign. Assuming that you’ll get similar results, will your desired budget make sense?
  • Type of self-serve advertising: If you’re just trying to increase brand awareness, you may not have to spend that much.
  • Risk appetite: Your ad budget is part of an investment, so treat it that way. If you’re willing to spend more for the potential of better returns, then go for it!

You don’t want to be too conservative, but you don’t want to be splurging on self-serve advertising either! Like Goldilocks, determine the budget that’s just right.

Step #2: Select Your Ad Format

If you’re not sure what types there are, we've got you covered! We’ve dedicated a whole section to this. So, what should you look into when deciding on your self-serve advertising format? It will help to ask these questions.

  • What do you want to accomplish in this campaign?
  • Where are you going to show your ads?
  • Who is your target market?
  • What content form will best communicate what you want to say?
  • What performance metrics do you want to prioritize?
  • What results have you achieved using various ad formats with similar goals?

A good self-serve advertising platform supports a lot of ad formats to suit every purpose. So, after asking these questions, you should be able to identify the best one!

Step #3: Make All the Necessary Customizations

Now, let's get to the fun part: creating the presets that the self-serve advertising platform will follow when you finally run a campaign. How exactly you're supposed to do it depends on the platform you choose. Although, at the bare minimum, you should be able to:

  • Set your target audience as well as any segmentations;
  • Narrow down the location;
  • Determine your maximum ad budget and bids;
  • Upload your self-serve advertising creative;
  • Decide when you want your audience to see the ads.

There you go! After doing all these, the platform will work its magic so that you don’t need to do anything more to implement the pre-set customizations.

Step #4 Monitor and Analyze the Results

At this point, you have officially created a self-serve advertising campaign. However, your job doesn’t end there! Once you have enough data, you should look at:

  • Performance metrics;
  • Audience demographics and behavior;
  • Performance of different ad placement;
  • Arising trends and patterns.

Then, look for the same information in your competitor’s ads. You should be able to tell where they've succeeded and where they've failed. Even if you already have preliminary insights, keep your eye open for other developments that you can use to further improve your self-serve advertising campaign.

Step #5: Optimize Your Campaign

What have you learned in performing step four? Every new piece of information that you’ve gathered will be your basis for optimization. Here are a few ideas on how you can make self-serve advertising generate better results for you:

  • Change the elements of the text and/or graphics;
  • Experiment with showing your ads at different times;
  • Explore new market segments;
  • See if other ad formats will yield better results;
  • Adjust your bidding strategy.

Whatever you decide to do must be backed by self-serve advertising data and insights that you’ve gathered so far. Should you still optimize your campaign if you’re hitting all your goals? Definitely! The only thing better than success is even greater success.

Ad Formats in Self-Serve Advertising

Remember step two from the previous section? From that step, you already know that there are various ad formats that you can try out and select. Each of them fulfills a different purpose in self-serve advertising, allowing you to:

  • Communicate your message effectively;
  • Reach your target audience;
  • Adhere to the norms of the platform on which you're publishing the ad.

So, which are the most common self-serve advertising formats that you’ll use? In the following subsections, we’ll discuss the types and include our recommendations on when they may be best to use.

Sponsored Content

A sponsored post is a form of self-serve advertising where you write something that your audience will be inclined to read. Then, you subtly introduce or connect the topic to your brand to advertise. In doing so, you enjoy the following benefits in your self-serve advertising campaign:

  • Improved brand awareness;
  • The opportunity to go viral and vastly improve your organic reach;
  • Permanently increased digital footprint.

This can be very effective in native self-serve website advertising because site visitors are already there to consume content.

Display Ads

This is a combination of text, images and other interactive elements that you'd usually see on websites. Self-serve display advertising is akin to billboards or magazine ads. However, this time, you’re actually able to track results. It comes in different sub-formats based on the combined elements and has the following advantages for your self-serve advertising campaign:

  • High cost-effectiveness;
  • Available on most devices with internet access;
  • An opportunity for audience retargeting.

The visual impact of your selected self-serve advertising display can have a huge positive effect, especially when combined with good ad placement, yet this doesn’t just apply to websites. Display ads are also shown on social media, mobile apps and everywhere else your self-serve advertising platform will allow.

Video Ads

From the term itself, we can gather that video ads are a form of advertising that uses video as its medium. If you’re looking for a way to captivate your audience, self-serve advertising videos may do the trick because they make content much easier to consume. They’re also a great option for:

  • Conveying narratives while touching on multiple senses to create a deeper connection;
  • Demonstrating how a product or service works;
  • Expressing brand personality that may not translate well over text or image self-serve advertising;
  • Keeping the attention of your audience.

Apart from video platforms like YouTube, they can be great literally anywhere that permits video ads, including for self-serve mobile advertising.

Interactive Ads

An interactive ad is a format where the viewer isn’t taking a completely passive role. Here, they are way more engaged because this mode of self serve advertising requires their participation, like games or polls. So, why look into interactive ads? Apart from the improved engagement, they also:

  • Enhance user experience;
  • Can be used to collect data;
  • Encourage voluntary participation.

Interactive self-serve advertising format can be seen anywhere a display ad may be placed, so you won’t have a hard time implementing these advertisements.


What types of self-serve advertising campaigns can I run on these platforms?

You can run most kinds of advertising because most campaigns today don’t require human interference or assistance. These include:

  • Native advertising;
  • Social media advertising;
  • Display advertising;
  • Video advertising;
  • Search advertising.

As long as there’s no human interaction from the top to the bottom of the funnel, the campaign can be considered self-serve.

What is self-serve advertising, and how does it differ from traditional advertising methods?

This type of advertising normally uses platforms or tools so that they can directly control and manage their campaigns. Self-serve advertising differs from the more traditional method in:

  • Human intermediaries: Instead of a salesperson or any kind of human representative, you use a tool to manage the campaign.
  • Real-time changes: Because you’re using superior self-serve advertising platform technology, all modifications will be reflected right away.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Platforms like MGID normally come with amazing features that help you get more out of your ad budget.

How do self-serve advertising platforms benefit advertisers and businesses?

By using this instead of intermediaries, you’ll able to enjoy these benefits:

  • High level of scalability: No matter how much you have allocated for your campaign, self-serve advertising will still work for you.
  • Targeted advertising: As you’re able to narrow down your audience to those who are most likely to respond to your messaging, you’ll get a better outcome from your self-serve advertising campaign.
  • Better accessibility: The self-serve advertising platforms are normally just a quick online signup away! So, even if you represent a small startup, you’ll be able to advertise in the same spaces as large corporations.

Are self-serve advertising platforms suitable for small businesses and startups?

Definitely! That’s actually one of the biggest advantages of such platforms. Even if you have a more conservative budget, you’ll still be able to benefit from the same accessibilities that larger companies have.

How do I get started with self-serve advertising, and what are the typical steps involved?

To get started with this type of advertising, you first have to determine what your goals are. Then, you can proceed with the following steps.

  1. Decide which self-serve advertising platform you want to use.
  2. Select a pricing model suitable to the goals of your campaign.
  3. Set a budget to spend on the platform.
  4. Launch the campaign.
  5. Monitor the results.

If you’re happy with the results, great! But we advise that you still test and optimize based on the initial outcome.

What metrics should I track to measure the success of my self-serve advertising campaigns?

The metrics that you should look at depend on the goals that you have set for the campaign. Any or all of these can be relevant:

  • Impressions;
  • Clickthrough rate;
  • Cost per acquisition;
  • Cost per click;
  • Return on advertising spend;
  • Ad engagement.

What level of control do advertisers have over targeting, budgeting and ad creatives on self-serve advertising platforms?

Compared to the traditional forms of advertising, your level of control is definitely greater. However, it is also limited by what the self-serve advertising platform that you’re using allows. You’re free to set your budget and ad creative, but the targeting capabilities depend on the features that already exist there.

Self-Serve Advertising: A Novel Way of Making Advertising More Efficient and Scalable

Were you surprised to learn how common self-serve advertising is? By becoming an advertiser on MGID, you can enjoy our best self-serve advertising platform yet: MGID Ads 2.0. Through our newly updated dashboard, you can independently create, manage and optimize campaigns. With our brand of self-serve advertising, you'll have access to a range of advertising formats, targeting options and optimization tools. Reaching your desired audience and achieving your marketing goals will become even more convenient. It all starts when you sign up on the MGID platform. And if you miss the human touch, a personal manager and a department of creative specialists are still here for you.