In-Depth Guide to Ad Platforms for Publishers in 2024

In-Depth Guide to Ad Platforms for Publishers in 2024

There are many different types of ad platforms for publishers including advertising networks, ad exchanges, header bidding partners, and more. Within each category of ad platform, there are important differences that affect how much ad revenue you’ll get — such as whether they pay per click or per impression, whether it’s a self-serve platform or one with experienced support personnel to lean on, etc.

In this guide, we’ll cover the main types of ad platforms for publishers: ad networks, ad exchanges, and header bidding partners. Then, we’ll discuss in detail various factors to consider to ensure you’re choosing the right platform for your needs. Finally, we’ll cover 11 ad platforms by category, starting with an in-depth look at Snigel — our ad monetization solution for maximizing ad revenue with every ad impression.

Clients experience an average revenue increase of 57% when they sign up for Snigel. To learn more, get in touch or read through our case studies.

Types of Ad Platforms

Types of Ad Platforms

The three main types of programmatic advertising platforms are ad networks, ad exchanges, and header bidding partners, all of which have different strengths and weaknesses.

  • Ad Networks are platforms in which ad inventory is aggregated before being offered to advertisers. Ad networks for publishers require less time and effort from publishers than some other ad solutions; however, this comes at the cost of less control over which specific ads appear on your site.
  • Ad Exchanges (also sometimes referred to as a supply-side platform, abbreviated SSP) facilitate direct transactions between publishers and advertisers. Along with getting access to premium advertisers, the main advantage for publishers is greater control over ads. However, some ad exchanges are inaccessible to small publishers.
  • Header Bidding partners give you simultaneous access to multiple demand sources. This lets you force networks and ad exchanges to compete against each other, and it also gives you access to premium markets normally only available to the largest competitors.

There’s one other thing to consider when comparing ad networks and ad exchanges to header bidding partners: how much the platform caters to advertisers. Header bidding partners are typically able to focus solely on optimizing revenue for publishers. Ad networks and exchanges, however, must balance the needs of publishers and advertisers, and some of these platforms end up prioritizing advertisers over publishers. Reviews from publishers can be helpful in discerning whether a platform values publishers or considers them a resource.

6 Factors to Consider

1. Monetization: Clicks vs. Impressions

When it comes to generating ad revenue, it’s typically best to choose an option that lets you get paid based on clicks or impressions. The problem is that most solutions only specialize in one — and services that offer both are typically only good at one.

You can work around this by using two ad platforms simultaneously, but this isn’t possible with services that have exclusivity requirements for publishers, so you’d need to choose two platforms that are both non-exclusive.

2. Self-Serve vs Done for You

Self-serve platforms typically offer standard, preset options that you can turn on or off; however, most publisher websites need special customizations in order to truly maximize revenue. For example, publishers whose sites serve multiple GEOs might want localized ads to enhance the user experience. Publishers can make these customizations without customer support if they have advanced technical skills; however, most publishers don’t.

Therefore, for publishers serious about earning the most revenue from their ad inventory, a ‘done for you’ service that handles the necessary customizations for advanced digital advertising is crucial.

3. Ad Strategy

If you’re already familiar with how to create an ad monetization strategy (e.g. your desired ad verticals, number of ads, ad formats) and how to adapt to changing conditions, self-service might be fine. However, in our experience, it takes years of experience working with many different setups to gain this knowledge.

Most publishers do better when they can lean on the expertise of ad ops specialists. But most ad platforms either don’t offer this opportunity or only provide this to its highest tiers of publishers.

On the other hand, some solutions (like Snigel) offer hands-on ad strategy support to every publisher while still giving you full control over your ad setup.

4. Ad Tech Options

A platform’s ad tech will either limit your options or open doors for earning more revenue. For example, not all platforms support all ad types such as Snigel’s interactive ad units that increase user engagement, which in turn increases CPMs. Many solutions don’t offer this type of ad, which means you may be limiting the amount of revenue you're able to earn.

In addition, the quality of ad tech affects site health, which in turn affects user experience (and revenue). So you’ll want to look for an option that has the best interests of your site built into each solution.

5. Revenue Share

When looking for a digital advertising platform, publishers generally want the one that will give them the most take-home pay. Unfortunately, this isn’t as straightforward as it sounds: even when ad platforms are transparent about their pay structures, factors ranging from ad tech to available support affects how much your site makes overall. For example, if a site offers a high share of the revenue but their ads frequently make your site crash, you may not end up with the revenue you were hoping for.

It’s a good idea to read case studies and reviews to get an idea of how much revenue they can earn for you overall and then contact each solution for an assessment of what they can do for your site specifically. Then, you can use that estimate along with the revenue share to determine which option will likely give you the most revenue.

6. Eligibility

In general, programmatic ad platforms require original, legal content and whitelisted website traffic. Some have additional criteria for prospective clients, such as minimum traffic requirements or a threshold of traffic originating from English-speaking GEOs. Others are invite-only. However, header bidding partners can often provide additional options for smaller publishers who wouldn’t normally be able to access premium platforms.

Header Bidding Partners


Snigel homepage: Unleash the Power of AI for Unmatched Monetization

By providing access to the top ad platforms, Snigel’s header bidding solution AdEngine drives up bids and therefore revenue. We also offer high-quality ad tech and dedicated ad operations experts to optimize site monetization for our clients. In this section, we’ll dive deeper into the technology underlying our header bidding service, the experts who will formulate and implement a top-tier ad strategy for you, and how both of those contribute to our mission to make the most money possible for our publishers.

Revenue-Boosting Ad Tech

Snigel provides a range of ad tech that can be fully customized to fit your exact needs. You can even have different ad layouts for the same webpage: for example, you can use different setups for users in different GEOs, or you can adjust formats for different types of devices.

Everything from basic troubleshooting to custom setup is handled for you, so you don’t need technical skills to take advantage of tech like:

  • Dynamic floor pricing: Every hour, our AI automatically adjusts the minimum bid necessary for advertisers to participate in an auction, increasing ad fill rates and thwarting advertisers’ bid shading algorithms that unfairly deflate the price paid to publishers. This gives our clients an average 5+% revenue increase.
  • Interactive ads: We host ads with elements that users can click on such as quizzes and the ability to vote between two popular options that allow and encourage user interaction, which is how interactive ad units can boost your revenue by 3+%, on average.
  • Video ads: Our AdStream platform lets publishers host eye-catching video ads, which increases revenue by an average of 23%.
  • Adaptive ads: When the combined bid for multiple small ads is higher than for a single large one, Snigel fills the ad spot with the smaller ads, increasing revenue by an average of 10–30%.
  • Super adhesive ads: With this tech, you can fill a small ad unit with a much larger ad. This visible portion moves across the ad as the user scrolls, which increases revenue by 20+% on average.
  • Smart refresh: This feature detects when users take certain actions that indicate a shift in attention or engagement, such as switching tabs, and cycles in new ads accordingly. On average, this boosts revenue by 6+%.
  • Adblock revenue recovery: When users have ad block enabled, Snigel’s anti-adblock feature serves ads that comply with their settings, increasing revenue by 10+% on average.
  • Privacy & consent management: Our AdConsent platform lets you comply with privacy legislation like the GDPR and CCPA, resulting in a 1–2% average increase in revenue.
  • And much more…

Expert One-on-One Ad Strategy Support

To get the most revenue from monetizing their site, publishers have a lot of factors to consider such as:

  • Which ad verticals are compatible with the content they publish.
  • How many ads they can run on their site without cluttering the display and compromising site health.
  • Which ad formats will generate the most revenue given their target demographics, site architecture, and type of content (e.g. long-form vs. short-form).
  • How to adapt site and ad layouts to different devices, GEOs, etc.
  • And much more…

Most publishers aren’t equipped to deal with the level of complexity needed to formulate the right ad strategy. Therefore, Snigel partners clients with ad operations experts who handle the ad strategy process for them: from drafting to implementation. You’ll still have full say over the final implementation — we just do the heavy lifting for you. This includes testing and adapting ad strategies as needed, whether that’s due to changing market trends or a publisher launching a new ad campaign to rebrand themselves.

Make the Most Possible Money from Impressions

With Snigel, revenue is generated via impressions. But you can also use Snigel alongside Google AdSense. AdSense is a click-based ad platform that’s good for ad units with a high click-through-rate (CTR). Snigel’s AdSense Revenue Calculator Tool can help you determine whether the revenue AdSense would generate is greater than what you could earn with Snigel, or whether using both together is the best option.

To learn more about how Snigel can squeeze the most value out of your ad space, check out the case studies on our site.


Ezoic homepage: Ad Monetization, Content Creation Tools & Video Suite

Ezoic is a self-service header bidding platform. Publishers get access to video ads, tools for search engine optimization (SEO), reporting features, and tiered levels of service based on traffic and revenue.

However, it’s difficult for publishers to navigate and implement, particularly if they lack experience with coming up with their own ad strategy.

It’s also worth noting that Ezoic has a one-year lock-in contract.

Further reading: Ezoic vs AdThrive vs Snigel: A Definitive Comparison


Monumetric homepage: Ad Management Done Right

Monumetric offers tiers of support based on pageviews; the four respective minimums are 10k, 80k, 500k, and 10MM views per month. The lowest tier includes in-content, native, and video ads; assistance with integrating their ad tech into your site; a reporting dashboard; and what they describe as advertising management (it’s unclear whether this is a ticket-based system).

Monumetric’s lowest tier also has requirements like operating a WordPress or blogger site; a $99 implementation fee; a minimum of 50% traffic originating from US, UK, CAN & AUS; and 6 ad slots.

Further reading: Ezoic vs Monumetric vs Snigel (Highest CPM, Cost, and More) homepage: Are you ready to maximize your revenue?

A hybrid between a header bidding partner and an ad network, stands out from the crowd by offering cookieless contextual ads powered by the Yahoo! Bing network. They also offer a variety of ad formats (including ad units with customizable sizes), some ad support, and a reporting dashboard.

Revenue is calculated based on click throughs.

Further reading: vs AdSense vs Snigel

Ad Exchanges

Snigel offers access to many top ad exchanges, including Magnite, Xandr, and Amazon Publisher Services.


Magnite homepage: Helping you win across every screen, everywhere

Magnite, a large, premium ad exchange (formerly the Rubicon Project), offers a wide variety of streaming ad formats: live, VOD, addressable linear, CTV, and OTT. They also offer display, audio, native, and digital out-of-home ads. When it comes to monetizing ads, they offer AI for floor price recommendations and A/B testing; they also have a team of experts to advise on ad strategy (though this might be a ticket-based system).

Finally, they offer audience curation and management features based on 1st and 3rd party data.


Xandr homepage: Reach audiences across screens with premium advertising

Xandr offers a variety of premium display ads, including CTV via a partnership with Netflix, and publishers can be directly involved in ad management by manually editing ad placements on their sites. Xandr also offers tools for yield optimization and ad analytics, increasing transparency to give publishers greater insight into ad performance.

Meanwhile, publishers who sign up for Xandr can choose whether to engage in open exchanges or private marketplace deals.

Amazon Publisher Services

Amazon Publisher Services homepage: Build, monetize, and grow your digital media business

Amazon Publisher Services offers non-exclusive solutions for large, mid-size, streaming TV, and audio publishers. Depending on their size, publishers can either take advantage of the Transparent Ad Marketplace or the Unified Ad Marketplace.

While both operate via S2S and have options for mobile, the Transparent Ad Marketplace for large publishers includes detailed reporting features and 50+ buyers and operates via direct transactions between publishers and advertisers. The Unified Ad Marketplace for mid-size publishers is invite-only, offering a streamlined place to deal with ad transactions that pays out on a NET 60 basis.


Criteo homepage: Advertise, Grow, and Monetize more effectively

Criteo offers both a DSP for advertisers and an SSP for publishers. Their SSP Commerce Grid connects to 18,000+ brands, allowing them to serve high-quality, relevant ads. Available formats include standard IAB, sticky footers, native ads, rich media ads, and native API. They also offer Commerce Yield for reporting and analytics, including consumer behavior.

Ad Networks

Snigel partners with many of the best ad networks for publishers, including OpenX and Index Exchange.

Google AdSense

Google AdSense homepage: We value your content

Google AdSense is a good option for beginners given its lack of traffic requirements. Its revenue is based on clicks, though as mentioned above, you can use it alongside Snigel to take advantage of both clicks and impressions (refer to our article How to Make More Money with AdSense for more details and tips).

AdSense offers a variety of ad formats, including desktop, mobile, and H5 ads. Its main drawbacks include being limited to the Google ad network and its lack of reporting features.

Index Exchange

Index Exchange homepage: One Exchange. Every Channel.

Index Exchange offers premium display, video, CTV, mobile, and native ad inventory and allows users maximum control over their pricing and configuration. They also offer privacy-compliant ad tech and provide users with ad metrics and analytics tools. Finally, they improve the user experience through premium demand and addressability solutions.


OpenX homepage: Demand Transparency, Sustainability, and Addressability from Your Media

The cloud-based exchange OpenX operates via real-time bidding, offering a wide range of ad formats (like video). Its packaged deals target audiences specific to publishers’ strategies while its ID resolution tool allows matching of site visitors with 3rd-party data to complement its advanced targeting options.

To learn more about Snigel, get in touch for a free assessment.

About the Author

Ira is Snigel's Head Of Marketing. She supports our team and publishers by creating awesome guides on the latest adtech trends. Ira's background is in software development, communications, and media.


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