Choosing an Ad Publisher for Your Display Ads

Posted by Suzanne Kammer on March 8, 2016
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If you’re a digital marketer, you’re no stranger to choosing a publisher for your direct media buys. At first, it seems easy: Find available inventory on a reputable publisher that you can afford. But there’s so much more to consider when choosing a publisher to host your ads.

How do you know where to place your ads? What publishers are going to give you the best bang for your buck? And what makes a ‘good’ publisher? Below, we’ve outlined important questions to consider when choosing the right publisher for your ads:


What are the publisher’s stats?

Using competitive intelligence tools such as, you can find out a lot about a publisher. Some helpful things to consider when choosing a publisher for your ads are:

a. Number of monthly visitors to the site

How many people are you getting in front of on a monthly basis?

b. Where are the site visitors located?

You don’t want to waste your ad on people outside of your geographical target.

c. What are the demographics of the visitors?

Think about who you’re trying to target. Are you looking for a female audience, seniors, high-income families?

What kind of content does the publisher promote?

Paying attention to the content on a publisher is important when it comes to your brand. It’s possible that there is content on the site that can be damaging to your brand’s image. Think carefully about what you are associating your brand with before choosing a publisher to host your ads.

The content available on a publisher also becomes increasingly important when hosting native ads. Native ads see a higher click through rate than display ads. Why? Because they appear as editorial content rather than a standard ad. You want your native ads to blend in as editorial content, helping to increase the likelihood that a visitor will engage with your ad. If you are serving native ads, you’ll want your ad content to be related to the content on the publisher page so that it’s consistent with the rest of the site.

What ad formats are available?

When it comes to choosing a publisher, you don’t want to run into limitations that can hinder your overall ad performance. It’s important to consider which ad types are supported by the publisher.


choosing a publisher

(Source: Publisher Profile for on

Consider these stats:

  1. People view native ads 53% more than banner ads
  2. Mobile commerce will account for almost 25% of overall ecommerce revenues by the end of next year
  3. Rich media mobile ads are 4x as effective as standard banner ads when it comes to click through rate

If a publisher limits you to just display banner ads, your ads may not perform at their full potential. Having the ability to run native, mobile or rich media ads could drastically improve your digital performance. And of course, performance should definitely be a deciding factor when choosing a publisher for your digital campaign.

How often can you update your ads?

Not all publishers will let you update your creatives whenever you want. When choosing a publisher, be sure to keep this in mind. You may want to refresh your ads when you find they’re no longer working. If you’re split testing ads, you’ll want to update your ads often to test different variables to find out what resonates best with your audience. Having the ability to update your design and messaging could do wonders for the success of your campaign.

Where are your competitors advertising?

Leveraging competitive intelligence tools to see where your competitors are advertising can help take some of the guesswork out of choosing a publisher. Your competitors have likely done their homework and have already found publishers that get in front of your target audience. You wouldn’t want your competitors getting all the attention now, would you? Let’s face it- if your competitors are there, you’ll want to be too.

choosing a publisher

Still not convinced that a specific publisher is right for you even if your competitor is advertising there? You can use competitive intelligence again to see if your competitor has had success with their ads on that publisher.

Take Expedia, for example. We can see they’ve been running one of their ads on for 1,047 days. As Expedia is clearly a competent advertiser, the ad must be performing well on this publisher for them to continue paying to have it hosted there for nearly 3 years.

choosing a publisher

Before you hand over a part of your marketing budget to a publisher, make sure you’ve done your research. Check up on the publisher’s stats and make sure you’ll be getting in front of the right people. Go through the content offered by the publisher to avoid associating your brand with anything unwanted. Look into what ad formats are supported by the publisher so you can continue to diversify your online strategy. Be sure that you can update your ads frequently, because you don’t want to waste your budget on an ad that’s no longer working. And finally, leverage competitive intelligence to see where your competitors are having success.

Have any other tips for choosing a publisher? Let us know in the comments section below.




Topics: Digital Strategy, Display Ads, Digital Advertising, Branding, Native Advertising, Banner Ads, Publishers, Online Strategy, Competitive Intelligence


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