Once you’ve decided that ads are a good revenue stream for your business, what’s the best way to get started?

In this post, we’ll look at the two main ways digital advertising is bought and sold, and then we’ll explore three options for setting up the actual ads on your site, including the one to make you the most money!

The highest-paying ad strategy involves direct and programmatic advertising

In the early days of the web, advertisers used to purchase ad space directly from publishers. Today, only about 20% of digital advertising transacts through direct advertising

These days, advertisers work almost exclusively with larger partners — making it nearly impossible for smaller independent publishers to directly access their large budgets and special campaigns.

Currently, the majority of the money for publishers is in programmatic advertising. This method is essentially an online auction using a set of technical systems to bid for ad space in real-time, with the capability to personalize campaigns to an individual reader. 

To earn well from ads, you HAVE to connect to the rich revenue stream of programmatic advertising where the majority of the money is flowing! 

But for the highest paying ad strategy for your site, you need the ability to tap into BOTH programmatic and direct advertising.  

Three methods for setting up ads on your site

The digital advertising ecosystem is a convoluted web that’s not easily navigated on an individual level, so let’s break down how you can get started.

There are three main ways to get ads set up and running on your site:

  1. Self-serve solutions like Google AdSense
  2. Setting up your own ads and running them in-house
  3. Working with an ad management company like AdThrive

1. Self-serve solutions like Google AdSense

A publisher can set up ads through a “self-serve” solution, like Google AdSense. This is an easy way to get started and a great way for advertisers to become familiar with your business.

You create an account, get ad tags (a simple code snippet), and install them on your site. There are no (or very low) traffic requirements, and you’ll receive regularly scheduled payments. 

Once you create your account, you get access to that platform’s portion of the programmatic advertising world, and their pool of advertisers start bidding on your ad placements. 

However, you do the manual work of implementing the ads yourself and making necessary updates to your site, which means you’ll need to stay on top of the ever-changing industry news and best practices.

These platforms only connect to a small subset of the programmatic advertising ecosystem and don’t have access to any direct advertising budgets, so they have the lowest ad earning potential. 

2. Setting up your own ads and running them in-house

The second option is to set up your own ads and run everything yourself.

You’ll need to configure your ad server (the platform to serve ads), build relationships and connections to programmatic advertising partners, and make sure you can track and collect payments from many different companies. 

You’ll need to write custom code for your website to optimize your programmatic advertising systems or hire developers and engineers to do this for you. 

You’ll also spend time and resources to vet companies you want to work with — and which ones you want to avoid. There are plenty of shady actors in the digital advertiser ecosystem looking to make a quick buck at your expense, so carefully screening potential partners is critical.

If you want access to direct advertising to take your ad revenue to the next level, you’ll need to build a sales team to manage those relationships and focus exclusively on this part of your business.

As you can imagine, setting up in-house ads from scratch isn’t a likely option for most publishers. Due to the heavy startup, labor, and maintenance costs, generally, only the largest enterprise publishers pursue this option.

3. Working with an ad management company like AdThrive

This is where the third option comes in — working with an ad management company like AdThrive! 

An ad management company represents independent publishers among the giants in the digital advertising ecosystem, negotiates deals for the highest-paying direct advertising campaigns, AND manages everything related to your ads, from technology to site optimizations to advertiser relationships.

For publishers who have successfully built a large, high-quality audience, a good ad management firm can bring both programmatic advertising and direct advertising revenue to your site, taking your ad income to new levels.

One of the best decisions that I made for SportsFeelGoodStories.com was when I pivoted away from seeking advertisers on my own and partnered with an ad network that would seek advertisers for my site on my behalf. I partnered with AdThrive, and in addition to increasing my ad revenue by over 300%, there was a benefit that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. It freed up a lot of my time, so I could spend all my time preparing more and better content.”
-Michael O’Halloran
Sports Feel Good Stories

It’s like having your own in-house programmatic operations and direct ad sales team — but supercharged with the bargaining power of the combined scale of every other client the company works with. 

Instead of focusing on all the behind-the-scenes work related to setting up and maintaining your ad strategy, you’re free to do what you do best — create amazing content and enjoy more passive income than you could create on your own!

You’re looking for someone to manage your ads… how do you choose?

There are several ad management companies out there, with different strategies for building your ad revenue. How do you choose the right one for your business?

We’re breaking it all down: here’s what you should expect from your new ad management company.

And if you’d rather just chat about your ad management needs directly, reach out anytime — we’d love to hear how we can help!