UpRival Ad Server Competitors and Alternatives

Chris Shuptrine
Chris Shuptrine
UpRival Ad Server Competitors and Alternatives

UpRival recently announced it was closing for good.

This means that current UpRival customers will need to find another solution. This article identifies the five top alternatives in the market.

What happened to UpRival?

As background, UpRival is a young company. According to their LinkedIn page, "Since 2018, UpRival has been on a mission to create the best advertising tool on the market."

Ultimately, the market has been cruel to independent, tag-based ad servers. In the past five years we've seen many ad servers shut down, including OpenX, Xandr's Open AdStream, Verizon's AdTech, Atlas, Polymorph, Sizmek, UpRival, and more.

Why are so many ad servers going under? For two reasons:

  1. Google Ad Manager has a 90%+ ad server market share. Their free offering makes it hard for others to compete.
  2. Tag-based ad serving is not the future. Publishers are realizing the importance of server-side ad serving and direct-sold native ads. This is pushing brands to build their own ad platforms (or use Kevel to build one quickly).

What are the best UpRival alternatives?

Below lists five alternatives to UpRival you should consider, each with their own pros and cons.

While there are other ad serving solutions out there, we highly recommend you do not sign-up with another small ad server.

Over the next few years, more of these ad servers will go under. If you move from UpRival to, say, AdButler, you run the chance of being in the exact same place in just one year. We therefore advise finding a partner with at least 50 employees.

1. Kevel

Type: Ad serving APIs

With Kevel, you can launch a custom ad server in a fraction of the time and cost as trying to build one from scratch. Rather than spend a year building your own ad platform, you can launch one in just weeks.

There are many benefits to building your own ad platform versus buying an off-the-shelf solution. This includes faster page load times, no ad blocking, the ability to display native ads, and more flexibility around targeting and pricing.

Kevel's clients include Yelp, Klarna, Bed Bath and Beyond, Ticketmaster, Mozilla, WeTransfer, and more.

Capterra: 4.6 stars | G2Crowd: 4.6 stars

Kevel

When to consider Kevel:
  1. You care about your user experience and want fast page load times
  2. You want customization around the look and feel of your ad units
  3. You want full flexibility around business rules
  4. You want to target using customer (first-party) data
  5. You want to get around ad blocking
  6. You want a privacy-law-compliant ad server
When to think twice:
  1. You want something you can set up in hours
  2. You don't have any engineering resources
  3. You want the ad server to provide programmatic demand

2. Google Ad Manager (GAM)

Type: Hosted third-party ad server

Of the popular ad servers, Google Ad Manager (previously DFP or DoubleClick for Publishers) is the leading third-party ad server by a wide margin, and it benefits from a seamless integration with Google's other ad products.

Capterra: 4.4 stars | G2Crowd: 4.0 stars

Google Ad Manager ad server

When to consider them:
  1. You want a low-risk ad server. The Google ad server is not going to be shut down, probably ever
  2. You want something inexpensive. If you have fewer than 90MM impressions a month, it's free. It's therefore the best free ad server on the market
  3. Your focus is on programmatic revenue, as you'll get access to Google’s AdSense and AdX programmatic demand
When to think twice:
  1. You need more customization than what an off-the-shelf ad server can provide
  2. You want flexibility around the look/feel of the ads, targeting options, and more
  3. You don't want to slow down your page/app by installing JS-tags/SDKs
  4. You don’t like helping or enabling Google

3. Revive Ad Server

Type: Free, open source ad server

Revive Adserver is a self-hosted ad server (via an open source script) you can download for free. After downloading, there is additional work needed to host and run the code.

Capterra: 4.2 stars

revive ad server

When to consider them:
  1. You don’t want to pay a monthly fee to a vendor and like the idea of an open source ad server
  2. You don't want to build an ad server yourself
  3. You have the engineering resources to download, host, monitor, and update the code
When to think twice:
  1. You need customer support. They have a community website, but you won't have a support team for troubleshooting
  2. You need scale. Revive is a large script and requires a lot of ad server costs
  3. You don’t have any engineering resources
  4. You want a bug-free solution. Revive is notoriously buggy

4. Smart Ad Server

Type: Hosted third-party ad server for programmatic ads

Smart Ad Server is a Google Ad Manager competitor whose selling point is its integration with an SSP for instant access to programmatic demand. Additionally, they are pre-integrated with multiple brand safety vendors, DSPs, and DMPs.

Capterra: 4.3 stars | G2Crowd: 4.0 stars

smart ad server

When to consider them:
  1. You want to launch quickly without needing engineers
  2. Your focus is on programmatic demand
  3. You don’t want to work with Google or want better support than what Google would provide
When to think twice:
  1. You need more customization than what an off-the-shelf ad server can provide
  2. You want flexibility around the look/feel of the ads, targeting options, and more
  3. You don't want to slow down your page/app by using JS-tags/SDKs
  4. You want to do user-level targeting

5. Adform

Type: Hosted third-party ad server for programmatic ads

Like Smart, Adform is a GAM competitor who focuses on programmatic-focused publishers. Their platform comes with detailed revenue forecasting, analytics for identifying new monetization opportunities, and bidding tools to maximize CPMs.

G2Crowd: 4.5 stars

adform ad server

When to consider them:
  1. You want to launch quickly without needing engineers
  2. Your focus is on programmatic demand
  3. You want tools for understanding and optimizing all your programmatic partners
When to think twice:
  1. You need more customization than what an off-the-shelf ad server can provide
  2. You want flexibility around the look/feel of the ads, targeting options, and more
  3. You don't want to slow down your page/app by using JS-tags/SDKs

What are my next steps?

If you're still unsure of what to do next, we are more than happy to set up a 15-min consultation to walk through your needs and discuss the best path forward. We wish you the best in your quest to replace UpRival.

Chris Shuptrine
Chris Shuptrine

Chris has worked in ad tech for over fourteen years in a variety of roles - giving him customer support, PM, and marketing perspectives from both the advertiser and publisher sides. He previously worked as the VP of Marketing at Kevel.