What is Ad Revenue?

by Matt Peck, on Apr 7, 2021 8:45:00 AM

In its most basic terms, advertising revenue is the income you earn from publishing paid advertisements on your website(s), social media accounts, or similar online platforms. 

Content and advertising have a long history of being reliant on each other. If you’ve watched TV, read your local newspaper, or spent time browsing the internet, then you’ve probably noticed that you can rarely have one without the other.

This is because content providers rely on advertising revenue to pay for the content you enjoy. Conversely, advertisers rely on the audiences content providers create in order to sell their products.

So Where Does Online Ad Revenue Come From?

While there are many forms of advertising, programmatic advertising is perhaps the most complex.

programmatic advertising


Typically, publishers have ad operations (Ad Ops) teams that manage the process of placing ads on the site.

When these ads are being placed programmatically, you’ll work through a Supply Side Platform (SSP) like Google Adsense or PubMatic, which takes your available ad space and auctions it off to the highest bidder. 

This can look different depending on where and how you are selling ad space on your website or social media.

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On Your Website

Advertising on your website can come in many different forms, and it would be best to familiarize yourself with some of the most common ones if you want to start effectively monetizing your website.

  • Banner Ads:Banner ads along the top, sides, and bottom of your site are the most common and straightforward form of online advertising.

    Like putting up a billboard on your site, banner ads utilize the white spaces on your webpages to advertise their products and services to users landing on your webpage, while adding click-through functionality to bring customers to their website.

    Through your SSP, you can choose banner sizes, shapes, and locations in order to make the best use of your space without disrupting the vision and content of your site.banner ads examples
  • Adhesive/Sticky Ads: As the user scrolls through your page, sticky ads will “stick” in place and travel with the user down the page. 

  • Takeover Ads : These kinds of ads still linger in the background and do not interrupt site navigation or content, but are able to take over all the empty space to create a more complete ad experience. Often these kinds of ads will have an immersive edge to them in an attempt to increase user engagement.


  • Videos Ads : Inserting video ads into your content pages is another popular and effective way to earn ad revenue.
    Videos are often more engaging than static ads and will be more likely to earn a click, making them more profitable too.

video ads example

  • Native Ads:Native Ads are a kind of advertising that tries to mimic the content that surrounds them. For example, if your website primarily focuses on articles and blogs, an advertiser may pay to contribute an article about their business solution or retail products.

    This is a very effective way of advertising that doesn’t disrupt a user’s browsing. 

native ads example

Once you start selling ad space on your website, you're going to want to focus on increasing your web traffic and session length in order to bring the greatest amount of revenue you can.

Most ad payments work through either pay per click (PPC) or pay per impression (PPM). This means you either get paid every time someone clicks on an ad you are hosting, or for every 1,000 impressions (or views) of the ad, whether it was clicked or not. 

You may also accept payments from advertisers for making simple referrals within your content, or allowing them to contribute to your content. 

Whatever avenue you find is right for you, the more people who visit your website, and the more time each visitor spends on each page, means the more opportunities for ad impressions and click-through rates. 

On Your Social Media

Though similar to running ads on your website, setting up ad revenue strategies for your social media can look a little different.

In-Stream Ads

Much like commercial breaks on television, Facebook and YouTube give businesses and individuals the opportunity to monetize their profiles through paid advertisements that appear within the duration of your videos.

To take the best advantage of this, you're going to want to find a video length that balances enough content to keep your audience engaged with the number of ads you want to serve to meet your revenue goals.social media ads example

Branded Content

Similar to paid referrals and guest blogs on your website, You can also offer advertisers paid promotions of their brand and products through your social media accounts. 

branded content example

And contrary to what you might think, you don’t need to be a Kardashian to do this effectively. Micro-influencers are an affordable and proven way for businesses to market their products online.

Keep in mind that each social media platform has guidelines you must abide by in order to have a monetized account. Once you find which platforms will work best for you, familiarize yourself with their guidelines so you don’t lose your ability to run ads.  

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Proceed With Caution

Opening the door to paid advertisements can help support your business and the content it creates, but it also brings in new challenges.

When you start running ads on your website, you are essentially giving an unknown third-party permission to run code on your website without being entirely sure what it does.

Without the proper protection, criminal advertising organizations, also known as malvertisers, can use your ad space to try and attack your users with pop-ups and redirects.

This is not only harmful to your end-users, but can cut into your revenue by driving your audience or potential customers away from your brand.

Setting up blocklists to stop certain advertisers from appearing on your site can help clean up your ad space, but this still leaves you vulnerable to more sophisticated attacks like cloaking, or malvetisers working under multiple identities.

Not only that, but you will lose out on potential ad revenue by preventing ads placed by such groups from appearing on your site. When most ad-blocking tools tag an ad as malicious, that ad space will then go unused and nothing is placed in it. So as a publisher, you make no money off that potential impression.

Products like cleanAD (which still allow the creative to load and the malvertiser to pay for their impression, but simply blocks malicious activity or disruptive actions) are a uniquely powerful tool against these kinds of attacks. With cleanAD, not only are you protecting your brand and your end-user, but you are also still getting paid while draining money from the bad guys’ pockets.   

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Topics:Malvertising 101AdOps Strategy

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