Definition: Ad Call

What does Ad Call / Ad Request mean?

An Ad Call or Ad Request occurs when one computer requests an ad from another (typically an ad exchange or ad server). It is a generic term that refers to the request for an ad.

“Ad call” is helpful for descriptive purposes but can get messy if you chase down everything it refers to. The process is somewhat reminiscent of the old woman who swallowed a fly.


What is an Ad Call?

When you load a webpage on your computer, your computer asks a server to send it the webpage, including the ads on it. Each advertisement on the page is ‘called’, and each ad that fully loads counts as one ad impression.

The actual webpage on the server can also be said to make ad calls. This is because the ads aren’t usually part of the webpage. They are stored elsewhere, which is why they are different every time you load them. What happens is your computer asks the server to see the webpage. Once the webpage is loading, it ‘calls’ the ads from another server. This then sends the ads to your computer to be part of the webpage.

If the website uses an ad server, that is what makes the Ad Call. So your computer asks the server for the webpage, the webpage asks the ad server for the ads, and the ad server makes an ad call and sends them back down the line.

Of course, an ad server is generally used to manage ads from many different places, so it could also ask another server/vendor/platform (some sort of computer) for the ad, which would be the actual original ad call when you load a webpage.

Any of these actions can (and are) referred to as ad calls, and it’s a convenient way to refer to the action. It would usually be said either in terms of statistics (“the website made 10,000 ad calls this morning”) or troubleshooting (“there is a problem with the ad calls on the ad servers end”).


What it looks like

What it looks like: Ad Call / Ad Request

Click to enlarge


Other names for Ad Call (synonyms)

Ad Request, Ad Impression (sort of: a successful Ad Call = an Ad Impression)


It’s the opposite of (antonyms)

A Broken Ad Call


Not to be confused with

Call To Action, CTA

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