Publisher in Advertising

The publisher is one of the stakeholders in digital marketing that controls one or more web pages with ad spaces to rent.

What is a publisher?

A publisher is a general term that describes personas that are in direct control of ad inventory. These may be owners of single websites, but more likely, are in charge of hundreds of websites or mobile apps and other digital real estate. 

To manage their content more effectively and to negotiate better prices from advertisers, publishers have started to organize themselves under the umbrellas of different types of organizations, such as ad servers, ad exchanges, ad networks, or SSPs. 

What they bring to the table is part of their web pages to be rented by advertisers.

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How do Publishers monetize their inventory?

The publishers usually get a special piece of code that they implement on their pages. This piece of code is not the ad itself. It is rather a script that makes a callback to a platform that manages their inventory. This platform then selects an advertising campaign by applying certain criteria and/or engaging in a programmatic buying scheme. The winning ad is then loaded with the rest of the web page on a visit.

Publishers use various cost models to settle their costs or negotiate separate deals. 

Although it may seem like publishers give total control over their ad space to a platform that manages their inventory, it’s not like that. Publishers still can decide what kind of ads they want to have in order to protect their visitors from an improper ad experience. They can decide on which verticals are allowed, what kind of images are welcomed, and even the types of messages that advertisers can put out.

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What is the difference between publishers and advertisers?

A publisher is the supply side of the digital marketing landscape. It provides ad impressions to purchase and gets rewarded by advertisers for this.

Publishers have control over their websites and rent their ad space under certain conditions.

Advertisers on the other hand are the demand side. They own ads and sometimes also an offer that they promote. Advertisers are interested in purchasing publishers’ content for the lowest possible price.

Publishers and advertisers rarely talk to each other directly anymore. They both aggregate under various platforms to have better negotiating positions.

The advertising industry can sometimes get complex. There can even be situations when a publisher and advertiser are the same person. This for example may be the case with big app developers that advertise their products within their other products (games inside other games).