How do publishers make more money at CafeMedia?

“How do you make publishers more money?” It’s a question we hear a lot.  So today we’re sharing our recipe for getting publishers the highest ad revenue. Take 1 high-quality site’s baseline open market ad revenue potentialAdd advanced ad code...

By Brynne Delerson

“How do you make publishers more money?”

It’s a question we hear a lot. 

So today we’re sharing our recipe for getting publishers the highest ad revenue.

  1. Take 1 high-quality site’s baseline open market ad revenue potential
  2. Add advanced ad code that constantly optimizes the ad auction and ad delivery
  3. Mix in premium revenue from strong direct sales and add more lift with sales flooring and competition
  4. Layer in unique ad technology relationships that you can’t get anywhere else
  5. Serve with customized ad layout optimization and hands-on consultative support

1. Open market demand offers baseline revenue for high-quality sites

“Every ad manager has access to the same advertising sources, so it doesn’t make a difference where you go.”

“Everyone says they can make you more money, but they’re all pulling from the same pool of advertising demand.”

“Ad management companies all use the same DSPs and SSPs — the rest is marketing and revenue share.”

Have you ever heard these points come up in a discussion about ad management companies?

These common pieces of advice float around in forums whenever someone is trying to understand the risks or benefits of changing ad management or working with a specific ad management company. 

The advice is usually well-intentioned.

It’s also mostly wrong.

What’s true?

Today, the majority of online advertising is bought and sold programmatically through automated auctions, known as “the open market.” 

“Open” can be a bit misleading though. You need custom ad technology to connect to these auctions, and working with an ad management company is the most efficient way to get plugged into the world of programmatic advertising. 

Once you’re connected to the most common SSPs (Supply Side Platforms) like Google AdX or OpenX, your site can participate and earn a baseline amount of ad revenue that’s dependent on how valuable your site’s traffic is to advertisers. Even if you move from one ad management company to another ad management company, you generally keep your “baseline” — your site has a core value on the open market.

But there’s more to the story… 

Open market ad spending should only be ONE piece of your site’s ad earning puzzle. If access to the open market is all that your ad management firm brings to the table, you likely could earn the same amount or more anywhere else.

But that also means your ad management firm isn’t doing much “ad managing” because there’s a ton of other revenue sources that they can and should be bringing to your site.

Specialized technology and custom options are the secret ingredients that take your ad revenue recipe up a notch!

2. CafeMedia’s advanced ad code optimizes the ad auction and ad delivery

The right ad technology running on your site can make a big difference in your take-home ad earnings. Ad auctions take place within moments of a page visit, so if your site is running old, slow, or poorly-coded ad technology, you’re likely missing out on the best bids for your ad slots.

Nucleus is our flexible ad code base. When a reader loads a page on your site, Nucleus handles everything to make sure the highest-paying ads are served every time.

Like many other ad management firms, we work with Prebid, Amazon, and Google to provide the foundation of much of what we do. But built on top of those platforms, we have extensive custom code that optimizes, enhances, and maximizes revenue in every scenario based on machine learning-driven systems providing real-time feedback into the system.

We’re constantly testing, tweaking, and improving our ad code to drive even the tiniest amounts of incremental revenue, squeezing out the maximum value for you every time an ad loads on your site.

And thanks to our positions on the Prebid and IAB boards, we always have access to the most up-to-date information about every change coming in the industry, putting the publishers we work with five steps ahead of anyone else out there.

3. CafeMedia brings premium revenue with direct sales + our sales flooring and competition drives higher advertiser spending overall

There’s a whole world of ad spending that doesn’t transact on the open market. These premium deals are still done the old-fashioned way — through personalized sales pitches and negotiations.

Not every ad management company has a skilled sales team representing your site for these higher-end opportunities and designing unique ad products that attract the interest of world-class brands. It takes years to build relationships and establish that type of reputation.

Thankfully, the CafeMedia sales team can draw on decades of experience and proven results to bring our publishers direct-sold ad campaigns that can pay 2–3x open market rates.

And on top of the added revenue from direct deals themselves, even just having those deals available to your site drives higher ad spending overall. 


When you have direct campaigns running on your site, ad buying algorithms learn to bid higher for all of your site’s ad impressions due to the increased competition. 

While direct sales require lots of hard, manual labor, it’s also one of the more future-proof revenue streams for digital advertising. Sales will play an even bigger role as we reimagine a more privacy-conscious industry without third-party cookies, so make sure you’re working with an ad partner with a strong sales strategy for your business!

4. CafeMedia connects publishers to unique ad technology relationships

Independent publishers don’t have the same access to technology partnerships as giant media conglomerates, but an ad management partner can bring you unique relationships you can’t get on your own. 

The key?

Your ad management partner has to have enough proven scale to land these partnerships!

With the CafeMedia community holding the #11 spot (on the entire internet!) in Comscore’s ranking systems (March 2021), we have a proven history of forging industry-first relationships on behalf of CafeMedia publishers: 

When you work with CafeMedia, you benefit from dozens of one-of-a-kind integrations — and they’re so seamless you may not notice them anywhere but your higher RPMs.

5. CafeMedia’s hands-on support and ad layout optimization equals higher RPMs

The final ingredient in this revenue recipe is the icing on top — our hands-on consultative support and ad layout optimization. 

We work with you to understand your site, your readership, and your overall revenue goals to design a completely custom ad layout for you. 

While we have general best practices we’ve honed over the years, we don’t do “cookie-cutter” templates or squeeze your site into a one-size-fits-all ad layout. If you’re used to working with an ad provider that’s more hands-off, or perhaps relies on you to dial in the optimal settings for your ads, this can be a HUGE benefit! 

Our team of ad performance experts is happy to take care of all the frequent tweaks and optimizations for you behind the scenes, freeing your time to focus on growing your traffic and engaging your readers. Of course if you want to be super involved in your ongoing ad optimization, we’ll support that too — we always love helping our publishers meet their goals!

When you get an email from someone on the CafeMedia team, you can trust that a real human being has personally analyzed your site and ad performance to put together recommendations tailored specifically to YOUR business. 

We invest heavily to assemble a talented team that comes to work each day excited to help publishers live their dreams.


Well, there you have it!

The secret sauce isn’t so secret anymore, but we wanted to give you a peek behind the scenes at how you can know that you’ll take home more money at CafeMedia. 

With proven RPM increases time after time for publishers who join CafeMedia (without cluttering your site with extra ads!), we’re confident that anyone who qualifies for CafeMedia will enjoy higher ad earnings here than anywhere else.