Who Are Publishers in Advertising and How They Differ from Advertisers

Who Are Publishers in Advertising and How They Differ from Advertisers

A person connects to an advertising network, attracts customers and starts earning. This is how beginners see this area. However, as early as at the stage of registration in the advertising network, the question arises – what is more profitable: to be a publisher or an advertiser?

What Is a Publisher: What Are His Tasks and Duties?

To define publishing and clarify what is publishing, we should say that publishers are the owners of sites, forums and any Internet resources that are ready to provide space for placing an advertising banner, announcement, etc. The term «publisher» also applies to holders of the rights for publishing ads on the page. Ad publishers can be both individual and legal entities.

A publisher understands that his platform will show how the advertiser will attract traffic to another resource. He independently chooses the specific location of advertising, can also choose a specific format and even a focus area. There are several types of ad units, for example:

  • Pop up. An advertising page that appears when the publisher's page is opened, or after some time, or after certain actions are performed by the visitor. While it is open, the user will not be able to work with the main content of the page.
  • Banner. An image, video insert, animation clip, which can be located anywhere on the site, and when clicked, it takes you to another advertiser's resource.
  • Push notification. A pop-up message containing text or graphics that prompts you to subscribe to receive notifications about something. A more modern version of in-page push no longer requires a subscription, but simply offers to go to the advertiser.

What does a publisher do? Publishers decide which ad unit to choose, and depending on this, they select a suitable offer and cooperate with advertisers.

What is a publishing company? As a rule, a publishing company is a symbiosis of a publishing house, a printing house, a design studio and an advertising agency. Such a company provides a wide range of services, and its working team includes designers, copywriters, managers and printers. The work of a single publisher is usually limited to advertising. An experienced publisher uses a combination of different formats to maximize profits. At the same time, he needs to think through everything in such a way that the abundance of advertising information does not interfere with viewing the main content and does not make visitors want to quickly leave the page.

Sellers sell their product or service, and the publisher sells traffic, that is, views. Their performance is assessed based on various metrics. CPM is the cost per thousand impressions paid by the advertiser. CPC (cost per click) is an advertising purchasing model in which the advertiser pays for each click made on an ad. CPA is a per-action advertising purchasing model – involves paying the advertiser for each user conversion action: subscription, registration or purchase. CPV is a payment model in video advertising, a cost per view. CPS is a payment-per-sales model that is essentially a subtype of the CPA model.

Typically, their performance is measured by CPM (Cost Per Millenium) – the cost per 1,000 ad impressions. Naturally, the higher the CPM, the more income is obtained, since it is more profitable for advertisers to place their ads on this site.

Advertiser & Publisher: What Is the Difference?

An advertiser is a person who takes responsibility for attracting the target audience to a specific resource through advertising campaigns. Ad publisher is a person or company that promotes a product on behalf of an advertiser. Let's compare the tasks of an advertiser and a publisher in the table below:



Creates a profitable offer for visitors.

Selects a publishing option for his site. 

Comes up with an advertisement that would actively encourage network users to go to the customer's website and take a targeted action.

Places advertisements on a web resource.

The advertiser pays money to display his advertisement.

The publisher receives money for displaying advertisements on their website.

The advertiser owns the product or service being advertised because it controls its advertising.

The publisher advertises such a product or service and directs the user to the advertiser's page.

The advertiser essentially sells advertising.

The publisher can be an affiliate or reseller, or essentially a website promoting a business.

The advertiser makes money on return on investment, i.e. selling the advertised product.

The publisher makes money by publishing advertisements.

Advertisers can be divided into 2 categories – direct and agents. The first applies to those who sell their own product. The second type of advertiser engages in a kind of “reselling”, receiving a commission if someone buys the client's product or uses his service. In fact, these are advertising agents who communicate between the advertiser and the advertising producer. An advertising agent is a specialist in selling advertising services. He negotiates with employees of advertising organizations.

An advertising agent usually deals with small and medium-sized companies. Large companies have their own advertising departments, staffed by experienced professionals who, as a rule, don’t need the services of advertising agents. Often, an advertising agent directly connects the advertiser with manufacturers, bypassing advertising agencies.

Thus, the advertising agent is himself a living advertisement and a seller of the labor of advertising producers. He may sell advertising space in newspapers, airtime, the services of an advertising agency, or the work of an artist. It is for this function that advertising producers need him and that is why they pay for his work.

How to Monetize Your Site?

If there is already a ready-made resource that has a suitable place for displaying publisher ads, then you can make money on this via arbitration. How to turn traffic into profit? There are several ways. Each is worth considering in more detail.

Contextual advertising

You can earn money by registering the site in the contextual advertising network.  After registration,  you will receive a special code. It should be inserted  on the site in a place where an advertising banner or video is automatically loaded. Then all you have to do is wait for users to visit the site and make their first mouse clicks on the banner they like.

It is worth noting that money is credited to the account of the portal owner precisely for clicks, the number of which is influenced by traffic. Therefore, this monetization option is gradually losing its popularity. As for placing the advertising code, it is better to insert  it in the footer or header of the site.

Teasers and banners

Although far from the most profitable, it is still  a simple and popular monetization option for medium and high traffic. The main task of the website owner is to place the advertising banner in a prominent place. More often such a place is a home page: side panel or a middle of the text. If there is still free space at the bottom of the page next to  the main content, you can place a teaser there. This is a special type of advertising that will help attract the attention of visitors. The main advantage of the method is that you pay not only for clicks, but also for impressions. However, people are almost accustomed to such banners, so they pay less and less attention to such advertising.

Another option for generating income from the site is publishing links of a certain nature. This method is preferable for those who have a wide target audience and are confident that advertising will work. Interested users who generate traffic will be happy to follow a link posted by the site owner, which will redirect them to another resource.

In this case, payment is made for transitions, clicks, and completed actions. Thus, the site creator has an expanded range of opportunities for making a profit. To start publishing clickable links, you should register with the appropriate services.

Website branding

Sometimes a site with a high level of traffic is disguised as a certain brand. Often such amateur activity leads to the fact that the site creator ends up ordering branding of all pages.

The most striking example of using such a monetization technique is the design of websites with films, TV series, books and other content in which the majority of users are interested. So, for example, when another new product comes out on movie screens, many sites post posters or commercials of a popular film on the main pages. It is noteworthy that this approach was of interest to many areas of business, which began to gradually implement this method of making a profit. However, website branding has several pitfalls. First, the owner of the virtual platform must agree on the published information or content with those who own the basic information. Secondly, you will need to establish contact with the advertiser, who as a result will be willing to pay for advertising.

Partnership programs

A good monetization option that will require the site creator to register on a site where you can meet advertisers with similar topics. The goal of cooperation is the effective placement of affiliate links, which will subsequently be clicked by visitors to the virtual site. The difference between this technique and the standard method of selling links is the need to publish advertising in the form of banners; links. It is also important to ensure that the topics of partner sites match. Otherwise, the loyalty of the target audience will be reduced.

3 ways of Traffic Monetization with no website

Even in the absence of their own resources, publishers can earn. In this case, you will need to spend on an advertising campaign and purchase traffic from other resources, such as:

The publisher has its own direct affiliate link. This is a special code that can be entered into some text, picture, button, etc. Each click on the direct link is credited to the publisher and brings him earnings.

What's Next for Ad Publishers?

In 2023, the role of programmatic advertising as a major source of revenue is diminishing as regulations tighten and platforms like Apple tighten online tracking and storage of browsing data.

Despite the growth of the market over the years, there is a trend towards the use of automated auctions and targeted advertising based on third-party information. A September 2022 Lotame and PureSpectrum survey found that more than half of marketers plan to reduce programmatic ad spending in 2023.

A survey of 43 multinational companies by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) found that nearly 30 percent of major advertisers say they are cutting advertising budgets in 2023.

Regulators are increasingly concerned about digital privacy, and programmatic advertising faces significant challenges. With more than 35 percent of publishers now relying on programmatic advertising as a significant source of revenue, the paradigm shift could spell disaster in the long run.

Google plans to phase out tracking cookies in 2024. Without cookies and other device tracking methods, brands will struggle to measure and quantify return on ad spend (ROAS).

Avoiding programmatic advertising as your primary source of revenue may seem risky. But there are more and more reasons to develop new areas of focus  – and improve their efficiency. Alternative revenue streams that meet consumer content needs and proprietary data marketing strategies provide new data opportunities for publishers.

Premium advertising
Premium advertising, such as banner advertising, has historically been a key source of revenue for publishers. However, these ads often deter readers from engaging with your content. Additionally, with huge upfront setup costs and declining CPMs, premium advertising faces increasing challenges as a primary source of revenue.

Subscription revenue offers a clear advantage: predictable payouts and reader retention. For many publishers, subscriptions are a great way to build long-term relationships with their audience. However, subscription models have disadvantages. Readers often consider subscriptions a discretionary expense. Setting up and managing subscriptions can be a hurdle for some publishers, especially those still building and growing audiences.

Branded Content
Branded content is a reliable source of income for publishers. Branded content allows publishers to improve the reader experience and increase loyalty. In addition, brands often pay more for branded content campaigns, which often include social advertising. These paid ads drive traffic to your stories, essentially growing your audience for free.

Commercial content
In recent years, commercial content has become a source of income for publishers. According to a Lotame survey, commercial content accounts for more than a third of all publisher revenue in the United States.