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Difference Between Advertisers And Publishers When It Comes To Ad Networks

Difference between advertisers and publishers

Difference Between Advertisers And Publishers When It Comes To Ad Networks

Digital marketing is a dense field of knowledge. It starts puzzling you from the very beginning when it comes to making out its main actors’ roles. You know Adsterra as an international ad network that connects advertisers and publishers worldwide. But who exactly they are, and what is the difference between advertisers and publishers in the context of getting profit? Which type of account to choose, if you need to buy traffic, and which one to monetize your website?

Today we’ll make it crystal-clear. Read this ABC-article to catch the difference between advertisers and publishers in terms of running the business within an ad network.

What ad networks mean by Advertisers and Publishers

All major ad networks will ask you to choose the type of account and register as an advertiser or as a publisher. But not all of them will explain what they mean by these two statuses and the purpose of each account. Here we’ll sort it out.

Who are advertisers within an ad network?

Shall we start with a real case? Supposing you are willing to advertise someone else’s goods or services and earn from it. You might think you need an advertiser’s account. At 99%, this would be the wrong choice. On average, by “advertising” large networks mean “to create ads and choose the tactics how, where, and whom to show them. What advertisers do:

  •  prepare an offer (a new iPhone, a Christmas Sale, a dating app)
  •  make ads illustrating this offer (ex: a banner 780×90, a popunder with pictures and texts, a short video)
  •  design a landing page with this offer (one landing page or a website)
  •  plan how to attract thousands of visitors to this page to see the offer and buy goods, services, and software.

Here we are! Advertisers are those who have some products they want to sell (goods, services, software, etc.). They can be “direct,” which means they own and sell the product they produced. Like Huawei sells its new Honor series. They also can be agents: advertising agencies who act on behalf of a direct advertiser, resellers, supplier chains (retailers, merchants), and many many more.

If you need to get money from selling goods or services, you’ll inevitably have to advertise it online. Then you’ll need an Advertiser’s account.

Advertiser – Definition

An individual or a legal entity willing to expose its’ goods or services to a broad audience. They pay for showing their offers to the users that are more likely to buy their products. The buy the number of contacts with this audience (views, clicks, downloads).

How advertisers earn

We know now that companies and agencies pay to display their offers loaded with useful goods and services. Actually, they infuse large budgets in the promotion. The global Internet display advertising is forecasted to reach $176 million by 2022.

When users meet an offer they find interesting, they might want to buy something from an advertiser. That’s when a merchant gets the money. The profit comes when goods and services are sold. Advertisers use ROI to measure whether their activities are truly profitable, or they have spent on advertising more than eventually have earned.

Sometimes the goal is brand awareness, but anyway, all commercial organizations are aiming at getting profit.

Now let’s sort out the same issue about Publishers.

Who are publishers within an ad network?

We made out that advertisers are buying the audience’s attention that might be views, clicks, opt-ins, or downloads. It is logical to assume that they buy it from publishers. Who are they? What do they sell?

Here is the key to getting the difference between advertisers and publishers. Publishers are those who own websites and are ready to display the offers to their audience.

Publishers find the best place on a web page to place an advertising unit. They register in an ad network and choose the ad format they are ready to put on the website. Experienced publishers masterfully combine various ad formats to reach higher revenues from ad rotation and not annoy users.

Publisher – Definition

Publishers (or webmasters) are individuals or legal entities that provide advertisers with potential customers via sending traffic to advertisers’ offers. They own websites or have the right to place and rotate ads on them so that visitors could see advertisers’ offers.

How publishers earn money

If retailers sell goods, publishers trade their audience, in other words, their traffic. Webmasters sell the number of times their audience will see or interact with an advertisement. For instance, it can be one thousand banner impressions. That’s when a well-known CPM rate (cost-per-mille) appears. This term literally means a cost for one thousand impressions.

Webmasters care a lot about CPM as it states how valuable their traffic is and influences their revenue. In our previous article, we examined the major reasons for CPM drops.

What advertisers and publishers do

Difference between advertisers and publishers within an ad network

Now we’re going to dry up the details to a simple gist. An ad network connects those who need traffic and those who offer it. Advertisers buy traffic from publishers via ad networks. This is far too simple, but here we don’t focus on the nuances.

Advertising backstage: where, how, and when to display ads

After the registration, all advertisers can launch their first campaign. A campaign is a complex of activities that we are going to unveil right now.

At Adsterra, advertisers can choose where to expose their offers, how often, and at which price. It means they decide how much they are ready to pay publishers and which ones. How does it happen? There is no magic, just math plus algorithms.

All advertisers have instruments to set up and launch campaigns. With these settings, they can choose where to display ads, who to target, how the ads will look, and how much they are ready to pay for promotion. Furthermore, they decide on the action they will pay for; it can be 1000 impressions, a click, a purchase, a subscription, or other action. Pricing models like CPM, CPC, and CPA are used to charge the commission from the advertisers to the benefit of publishers.

Take a look at the most used terms describing these backstage activities.

Advertisers determine publishers’ income

As you might have guessed, advertisers are aiming at reaching the most relevant audience – those who will be ready to increase their ROI: buy, subscribe, download, or play.

If they see that website A is continually driving them ready-to-pay users, they will bid higher for this traffic. Thus, some traffic costs more, and some publishers earn more as they provide advertisers with best-matching traffic.

Ad networks have algorithms that monitor and control the bids. When they detect a soaring demand in traffic from specific GEOs or publishers, they raise the CPM rate.

And we’ve reached the most exciting part of the article. Let’s now see how publishers monetize their websites and blogs.

Publishing backstage: how to monetize website traffic

A publisher’s account is a kind of control center where they monitor and manage their websites’ performance and earnings. After the registration, all publishers add websites URLs, offering them as traffic sources to advertisers.

Publishers can choose what ad units/placement they are ready to display on their web pages and how often. Banners, popunders, VAST pre-rolls  all of these are units or placements. To find out the most demanded ad units, read this guide.

Then they get a unique code to paste on the website. This code will stream ads from advertisers. Actually, the whole process takes less than 10 minutes.

Ad networks can monitor all the URLs and ad placements of each publisher to increase the CPM if traffic from these sources performs excellently. In the same way, they can block placements for driving fraud traffic, or decrease CPM rates if traffic hasn’t brought any results to advertisers.

Let’s clarify some terms that webmasters regularly use.

Publishers make ads work

Just like advertisers determine how much publishers will earn, publishers provide the most valuable resource – high-quality traffic that converts into clicks and purchases. Moreover, publishers are priceless as they make goods and services visible, which is crucial in digital marketing.

All commercial organizations strive to attract as much top-grade traffic as possible to get into contact with their offers. They are ready to bid higher for the most prominent GEOs and audience.

Advertisers vs Publishers FAQs

No matter how detailed this article is, dozens of tricky issues will keep disturbing both advertisers and publishers. Let’s clarify at least a couple of them.

Can publishers buy traffic?

Sure they can! It’s not the advertisers’ prerogative. Publishers may need to refresh their website users’ demographics, or attract more new visitors. In these cases, they will place search ads to attract the most wanted visitors. As you have guessed, they will act like advertisers.

Can a publisher monetize traffic without a website?

We admire you diving so deep in digital marketing and monetization aspects! Publishers may be ninjas in leading traffic to single-page sites or landers with one conversion button on it.

As they don’t have numerous audience (because they don’t have a website), webmasters buy traffic. It can be social traffic (from Facebook, Pinterest, and other social networks), search traffic (Google AdWords), and any other traffic source. So, they land this audience to a single web page with a direct link on it. A Direct Link is a multipurpose code that you can put anywhere – on text, buttons, images – and earn each time a user clicks on it. No banners, no popunders, and almost no web design. Just a strong offer and a compelling call-to-action.


These are the ABCs for understanding the difference between advertisers and publishers in digital marketing. Ad networks are ecosystems where both roles are equal and valuable. To keep the vital balance of profitability, they help advertisers set the best bids to attract as much high-quality traffic to their offers as possible. On the other hand, they must deliver a 100% fill rate with ads for publishers, bringing higher bids to the foreground.

Challenging issues will appear each time you deal with advertising and monetizing online. But fear not! Our team is going to be around to help you establish strong relationships with your partners, whether they are advertisers or publishers. Trusted by 12K direct webmasters and running simultaneously over 20K campaigns, we always find the perfect traffic-2-offer match.

Test drive the leading ad network

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