What Is Advertising Business Model? & How it Works? – Explained With Types And Strategies

Irrespective of the platforms we use, the Advertising Business Model has grown fast in this digital landscape connecting brands, creators and audiences.

Let’s explore how the advertising business model will help entrepreneurs or startup businesses to create sustainable ventures – by understanding its core ideas and revenue model of advertising with examples.

📌 Key Points

  • Advertising Model involves generating revenue by promoting products or services through paid ads and connecting advertisers with their target audience.
  • Publishers are vital in this model, providing platforms for ad placement, with a focus on optimizing user experience and balancing revenue with content quality.

Ad spending is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of 4.53%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$247.30bn by 2027. ( Source )

What Is an Advertising Business Model? – Definition

The Advertising Business Model is a framework of how a company generates revenue through various types of advertising activities using its large customer base.

The advertising business model comes in various forms of advertising, including display ads, sponsored content, video ads, social media advertising, and more.

Understanding Advertising Business Models – How It Works

We can easily understand how advertising business models work with simple examples like Google, YouTube etc. Do you know why? – because it just has a massive number of users throughout the world.

The whole concept of advertising depends on the number of audience that a platform has.

To simply state – Revenue generation in advertising is directly proportional to the number of people who watch ads.

3 vital components of the advertising business model are

  •  Advertisers
  • Publishers
  • Ad Networks

Let’s see how they play a major role in value creation.

Role Of Advertisers

The process begins with advertisers, which can be businesses, organizations, or individuals, seeking to promote their products, services, or messages.

Advertisers are the actual driving force behind the advertising model whose primary goal is to reach and engage with their target audience through advertisements.

They invest in advertising campaigns to increase their brand awareness, drive sales, or achieve marketing objectives.

Advertisers create ads in various formats, such as display ads, video ads, sponsored content, or even simple text ads depending upon the platforms they want to display these ads.

Role Of Publishers

On the other side are the publishers, where advertisements are displayed. Usually, the publishers are not only the websites but it includes apps, social media networks, and television channels.

Publishers aim to monetize their content by offering ad space to advertisers. It is not a cakewalk for them because publishers need to deliver engaging content to their audience. Only then, the users spend more time watching ads while it generates revenue from ad placements.

At the same time, they are responsible for a positive user experience as well. This means the platforms shouldn’t be filled with ad clusters and slow loading speeds. These are the big concerns for them.

If they fail to manage effectively with user experience it will surely damage audience engagement.

Role Of Ad Networks

Next is the Ad network!

Ad networks act as intermediaries that connect advertisers with a wide range of publishers.

Their prime activity is to streamline the ad placement process by helping advertisers reach a broader audience through a network of publishers.

Ad networks handle the technology side of ad placements including inventory, tools & tracking etc. while they charge a fee or take a percentage of the ad spend for their services.

This collaborative effort ensures messages are effectively delivered to the right audience, benefiting advertisers, the platforms they choose and also the intermediaries.

These core elements contribute to the successful implementation of advertising business models.

The Evolution of Advertising Models

If we look back into history, the advertising model has undergone significant evolution by shifting its landscape of advertising.

It has continuously transformed its medium from the traditional medium in the past to the internet era with the emergence of new technologies.

The way it makes money, i.e. The revenue model has also dynamically adjusted according to the medium it serves.

For instance, once print media like newspapers and magazines sold advertising spaces, but now companies use AI tools to optimize ads targeting the relevant customers.

Let’s compare how the modern-day advertising model is different from the traditional way of advertising.

Traditional Advertising vs. Digital Advertising

 Traditional AdvertisingDigital Advertising
MediumPrint, Broadcast, OutdoorOnline, Social Media, Mobile Apps
InteractivityOne-way communicationTwo-way engagement
Cost & MeasurabilityHigher production costs, limited measurabilityLower production costs, high measurability
AdaptabilityLess adaptable to real-time changesAgile and responsive
Customer Relationships & ControlLimited direct engagement, limited cost controlDirect engagement, cost control (e.g., PPC)

Types of Advertising Business Models

Advertising business models encompass various approaches for generating revenue through advertising activities. Here are some common types of advertising business models.

PPC (Pay Per Click)

Advertisers pay a fee each time a user clicks on their ad. This model is common in online advertising, where Google Adsense is a good example.

RPM (Revenue Per Mille or Revenue Per Thousand Impressions)

RPM is different from PPC where Advertisers pay a fee for every thousand ad impressions, regardless of clicks. RPM is often used for display advertising and brand awareness campaigns.

PPA (Pay Per Action)

Here, the money is generated in the form of a commission basis for a specific action done. When a user makes a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or filling out a contact form, the advertisers pay for its conversion. This model is also known to be affiliate marketing.

Sponsored Content

Any company or an individual (Advertisers) who wants to promote their content, pays for the creation and promotion of content that is relevant to a publisher’s platform. It’s often prevalent in content marketing and influencer marketing techniques.

Social Media Advertising

Unlike website advertising, social media Advertising targets the right user based on their behaviour and interest in a particular segment. Moreover, it fuels engagement and interactions through likes, shares, and comments.

All these types are not necessarily important to make money, as some of these could be irrelevant producing no value to the business.

So, businesses and publishers may choose one or more types depending on their goals, target audience, and industry, to monetize their content via effective advertising.

The advertising business model, like any other, comes with its own set of pros and cons. Here’s an overview of some of the advantages and disadvantages.

Pros of Advertising Business Model

Low Upfront

Since advertising is a primary source of revenue, initially publishers can invest only in building platforms like websites or apps. That too for social platforms you can go straight away for content creation without spending much money.

This would be a big advantage for publishers, but the only thing they need to be diligent about is choosing a high CPC or CPM niche.

Diverse Revenue Models

There are various revenue models within advertising, such as PPC, RPM, PPA, and sponsored content. This diversity allows businesses to choose the exclusive model that best suits their goals and budget.


When a publisher’s audience grows, they can attract more advertisers and potentially increase their advertising rates, leading to higher revenue. For example, magazines like Forbes, and Huffington Post charge high for advertising and sponsored content.

Measurable Results

Digital advertising provides detailed metrics and analytics about the performances and user behaviours. Thus it enables advertisers to measure ad performance, track ROI, and make data-driven decisions for optimization further boosting the ROI.

Cons Of Advertising Business Model

There are also some disadvantages and inconveniences that prevail in this model that need to take care of.

Ad Fatigue

Overexposure to ads can lead to ad fatigue among users, causing them to ignore or become irritated by ads. This can diminish the effectiveness of advertising efforts.

Privacy Concerns

Data collection for targeted advertising has raised privacy concerns. However, stricter regulations (e.g., GDPR, CCPA) have been introduced to protect user data, impacting some advertising practices.

Ad Blockers

Many users employ ad blockers to eliminate or minimize ad exposure. This can significantly reduce ad reach and revenue for publishers and advertisers. There is no counteract to this.

Competition and Costs

There is always heavy competition for all niche businesses. It will take some time to grow organically and gain a large set of people to make follow your brand. So it is hard to overcome challenges for smaller businesses with limited budgets.

Example Of Advertising Business Model

Google Ads

Google Ads is a prominent example of the CPC (Cost Per Click) advertising model.

Publishers monetize their content by displaying relevant ads to the user. Publishers place Google Adsense codes on their web pages.

Google serves ads that are contextually relevant to the website’s content. Publishers earn revenue through various models, other than cost-per-click (CPC) such as cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM), when visitors interact with or view the ads.

Google either handles the ad selection and placement, or the publishers can place it according to their needs. This makes it a good choice for website owners looking to generate income from their online content.

Strategies for Successful Advertising Business Model

A/B Testing: Continuously experiment with different ad elements to discover what resonates best with your audience and optimize it according to them.

Data Analytics: Utilise data analytics to measure ad performance and improve with the insights on user behaviour.

Mobile Optimization: Optimize ad content and landing pages for mobile devices, considering the growth of mobile usage.

AI Integration: Leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) for ad targeting, personalization, and optimization, allowing for more precise and automated campaign management.


To sum up, the advertising business model remains a vital revenue stream for digital platforms. Even though it brings challenges like privacy concerns, and user experience, maintaining the right balance will take you to the next level. And finally, opting for a good ad network will do it for you.

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